Welcome! Please sit down, make yourself comfortable, and have a brownie or three...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Write A Synopsis, Disney-Style (Plus Announcements)

A couple announcements first:

~Miss Snark's next Secret Agent contest will be on Monday, March 21. Click HERE for early info.

~The Next WriteOnCon live chat event is on Monday, March 28 at 5 PM EST with literary agents from Dystel & Goderich Literary. Tell your spouse, kids, roommate, significant other, etc. to mark their calendars too (to leave you alone).

Can you write a synopsis Disney-style?

Ah brevity, you taunt me so! We all know how hard those dreaded query letters and synopses are, not to mention loglines and 2 , 3, and 4-sentence pitches. Trying to keep them all straight in your head when you go to a conference can be maddening.

My 2-year-old daughter recently received a box set of Disney princess stories. They’re little board books, each with about 4 or 5 pages of text. Disney has apparently mastered the art of condensing. Could this be a lesson for constructing a brief synopsis??? Have a look at Disney's exact texts and judge for yourself:

Snow White (in 6 sentences)-
Once there was a sweet, kind princess named Snow White. The wicked Queen was jealous of Snow White’s beauty. Snow White had to run away. She stayed in a cottage with Seven Dwarves. The Queen tricked Snow White with a poisoned apple. But the Prince arrived and awoke Snow White with a kiss, and they lived happily ever after.

If my kid is my kid (and she is), at some point she’ll be asking, “What about the Queen? Isn’t she still around, trying to knock off Snow White?” Loose ends, Disney, loose ends.

Pocahontas (in 8 sentences)-
Pocahontas was a Native American. She loved nature. One day a ship from England arrived in America. Some of the Englishmen were greedy and mean. John Smith was kind and good. Pocahontas’s tribe wanted the Englishmen to leave. The Englishmen sailed away. Bu Pocahontas and John Smith would never forget each other.

So…the Englishmen left just like that, did they?

One more:

Cinderella (in 8 sentences)-
Cinderella was a gentle, charming girl who loved to dream. Cinderella’s stepsisters were cruel to her. Her Stepmother was even worse. The King sent an invitation to the royal ball. Cinderella was not allowed to go. But Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother helped. Cinderella and the Prince fell in love at first sight. It was a dream come true.

I must say, I resent all these wicked Stepmothers traipsing around fairy tales. It’s insulting (I’m a stepmom to two lovely kiddos). Plus, there’s no mention at all of those cute little mice!

So, which movie-book did the best job of summarizing~ any opinions?


  1. I love your commentary :)

    Even though it's not my favorite Disney movie, I like the Cinderella synopsis the best... but why do I get the feeling none of these stories would make it past the query stage anyway?

    Wait, I know what they need... zombies!

  2. They are quite condensed, but a little on the dull side. I'm sure we could come up with different word choice and spice them up!

    You are one of the most beautiful stepmothers I know. Disney has simply given them a bad rap.

    Thanks for the contest heads up.

  3. I loved your commentary - "loose ends, Disney, loose ends!" And hey I'm a stepmom too someday I'd really like to see Disney make a great stepmom.

  4. Thanks for all the links.

    Although I like all of your disney pitches, I think Snow White was my favorite.

  5. I'd say you've got the hang of writing a good synopsis when you can see all the loopholes in these story lines! Fun post. My favorite is Snow White, too, with that great line, "Loose ends, Disney, loose ends." It's a classic :-)

  6. I think Cinderella's got it best. But yes, Disney is lacking on the part about making the antagonists go bye-bye.

  7. Great post and thanks for the heads up on things happening.

  8. Thanks for the links!

    I love your commentary on the synopses--I like the Snow White one.

  9. Your commentary is hilarious. This is my favorite post of the day so far :D

  10. oh laugh laugh laugh! That's so funny!
    Anyhow, pocohontas went after john, and it was love at second sight!

  11. Thanks for the heads up on the contests! And I agree - your commentary was a lot of fun to read.

  12. Hahaha! Too funny. And what is it with all the stepmother-hate??


  13. Disney has left me speechless. At least you made me laugh!


  14. I'm going to have to go Snow White. Maybe the brother's Grimm had a not-so-nice stepmom so they had a lot of venting to do. Thanks for the links.

  15. Something tells me these wouldn't get many requests when the queries went in!

  16. LOL disney style! How funny (and hard!) Cute post and thanks for the heads up on the pitch contest!

  17. hee hee hee! they really are synopsized pretty well! but something tells me the illustrations probably up the word count magnificently. after all, a picture is worth 1,000 words! :)

  18. Just discovered your blogsite. Great information. Thanks so much.

  19. Umm...do I have to pick one? For some reason, they all read in my head in some obscure monotone. :) But, I'll pick Snow White, only because my current wip references it.

    Thanks for the contest updates, too! I need to check out this Miss Snark.... Happy Wednesday to you!

  20. I think I liked Cinderella's the best. Though I do love those mice.

  21. OMG I LOVE that!! Especially the "loose ends" comment. Hysterical! So even Disney finds it hard...

  22. haha I love the Disney synopsis trick. Cinderella is best

  23. the only one of those 3 i'm really familiar with is cinderella. i love the disney version. especially that one part when a mouse character does something good and all of the mice are congratulating the one mouse and this fat mouse gets so filled with emotion that its like "HAP HAP HAPPY BIRTHDAY" lol cracks me up everytime.

    i'm almost certain that this comment will make no sense to anyone, but i just stopped by to let you know that i'm now following you (no creep). swing by my blog to see if anything interests you [=

  24. Soon as I read your annoyance at stepmothers getitng short shrift in fairytales, I immediatley thought of Shakespeare doing the same with those born out of wedlock...

  25. I suppose Disney thinks they already have you, as we know they have our kids, so there's no need to try and 'sell', or 'impress' anyone!

    For my own kids, if the stories were not well-known, the thought of so much evil would turn me off!