|It's done, it's done!!!|
Like many authors, I hate writing synopses. It feels so wrong to be forced to condense a 260-page manuscript down to a single descriptive page. I'm supposed to cover what took me a year to write in a few breezy paragraphs??
Naturally, I spent the morning today researching the subject. There are many articles and blog posts online that offer advice and guidance on how to write an effective synopsis, and I've gone through them to distill for your reading pleasure five important tips on how to succeed in this gawdawful, onerous task.
5. Remember Your Objective.
A synopsis is a tool you will use to inform a literary agent or publisher about your manuscript. As such, it must answer all their most important questions--what's it about, where is it set, who is it about, and why should I be interested?
As The Literary Consultancy suggests (link below), if you find the job of writing a synopsis distasteful, "think not of yourself, but of the reader, and treat the project as a ... challenge and [an] opportunity to show your work off in its essential form."
4. Stick to the Basics.
Keep it short. A single-page synopsis is best, about five hundred words or so. While book readers use their leisure time to read your work, agents and acquiring editors do not--don't expect them to be happy slogging through five pages when one will do the trick.
Use an active, third-person voice and present tense. Review each word in your draft synopsis and try to find a simpler, punchier alternative.
Avoid back story, avoid dialogue, and don't format your synopsis into separate sections. KISS - Keep It Short and Simple.
3. Cover Your Entire Story Arc.
Describe in a few clear, concise paragraphs how your story unfolds. Use the rule of three: explain how your story begins, how it gets complicated, and how it ends. Cover the primary plot, of course, and briefly allude to subplot, depending on how important it is, where space permits. Agents and editors want to see that your story hangs together and isn't disjointed or incomplete.
While you're busy with this, work in a brief allusion to where (and when?) it's set.
A last word on the ending of your story. Many bloggers suggest withholding your ending in order to entice or tease an editor. I've been given to understand, in no uncertain terms, that this is a bad, bad idea. Spell it out without holding back, otherwise they may suspect you don't have confidence in it, or worse, that you haven't actually written it yet.
2. Demonstrate Character Development.
At this point you've probably already written five hundred words (or more), but keep in mind that agents and acquiring editors will be focusing on your protagonist and your other primary characters. Give them a strong sense of who they are and how your protagonist develops over the course of your novel. Book readers crave compelling characters--demonstrate that you have them!
1. Hook 'Em, Danno.
Our number one tip takes you right back to the opening paragraph of your synopsis. Plot summary can be rather dry and boring, no matter how great your manuscript may read, so make a special effort right up front to hook the person reading your synopsis. You want them to read the entire thing, since you've slaved and slaved over it, but agents and editors are like everyone else--if you don't grab their attention in the first few sentences, they're likely to move on to something else.
If you've written a crisp, attention-getting synopsis, you'll achieve your overall goal: you'll leave them anxious and impatient to read the entire story!
For more information:
Now it's time for me to get busy and write mine. Agggghhhhhh!!!