Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writing a Synopsis

You’ve just written the final word on your novel, and you’ve combed through it no less than 35 times editing, reworking subplots and characters, and you’re ready to submit your manuscript. One thing you may need is a synopsis, or an outline that discloses the plot. Depending on the publisher or agent, the synopsis will vary in length, usually one to two pages.

A synopsis is important to give the agent/editor a disclosure of the plot. They also give a glimpse of your writing style.

When I wrote my second novel, I was surprised at how much time it took for me to make sure every word in my synopsis counted. But it paid off. At least I think it did, because my book did get published. 

But how can a 100,000 word manuscript be squished into two pages? What do you put in? What do you leave out?

A basic outline for a synopsis can be:

  1. A brief summary of the beginning of the story.
  2. A brief description of the characters and the problems they will need to solve as they go through the book, the basic plot.
  3. The obstacles they go through to solve these problems, and climax.
  4. Summary of how the story ends, who the bad guy is and all. (Leaving any hanging ends or questions that haven’t been answered doesn’t generate curiosity here.)
It’s important to keep fluff minimal in a synopsis, use an omniscient point of view, and to do the obvious like spelling and grammar checks. It doesn’t hurt to have others look at it and give you feedback. Would they want to read your story based on what you’ve written in your synopsis? Are the characters and plot presented in such a way that it creates interest? If so, then your manuscript may well be on its way to becoming a book in your hands.


Michael Offutt said...

There are some good pointers on making a synopsis on Nathan Bransford's blog, also Raquel Byrnes has some awesome advice, and then I've seen some just doing a google search. A synopsis is almost 100% necessary unless dealing with Susie Townsend, literary agent.