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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Write a Synopsis, Disney Style

*I'm taking a sick day today~ this post is a repeat from March of last year*

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 can be maddening.

My young 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. But 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/worst job of summarizing~ any opinions?


  1. These are great. I find that if I include my book in a list of books I've read and speed through it, writing one sentence phrases, I can write one for mine. If I think too much on it, it's a lost cause.

    1. I agree~ it's overanalyzing that paralyzes my ability to write a simple synopsis.

  2. I'm with you on the stepmothers - I think they were just a convenient villain!

    Sorry to hear that you're sick, and I hope you're feeling better soon. How was your trip to Denver?

    1. It was a good trip, thanks for asking! I'll be doing a Van Gogh post on Friday :)

    2. Great! Looking forward to reading about it.

  3. Wow, they really cut it to the bones of the story! I've never tried to write a synopsis, never gotten to that point yet.

    1. ...um, I admit that I've been known to avoid submitting to agencies that request them :) Weak, I know.

  4. These make is seem so easy. How is that possible?

    1. These stories work great on 3-year-olds~ I'm not sure if they would have quite enough development for an agent (even as a synopsis), but they certainly show a way to condense :) By the way, am I missing your posts, or are you taking a blogging break?

  5. This is great, Jess. I love ways to make what could be a hard problem easier.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Yep, they sure know how to simplify :)

  6. Your take on Pocahontas actually made me laugh/snort out loud. If only the colonization of America was so straightforward... ;)


  7. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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