Got a free eBook code? Click HERE for instructions on how to download.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Makes A Synopsis Good?

The answer to that is both easy and utterly complicated. Your story is what makes the synopsis good. But how do you decide what parts of your story to spotlight in the synopsis? That is the tough part and unfortunately it could be the difference between someone asking to read your manuscript or passing altogether on it.

Now that I'm nearly finished with the editing process I'm faced with having to write a synopsis for my new book. Even if my agent doesn't require a synopsis before he reads it, if he decides to try and sell it I know he'll want one to send to editors. It is inevitable that I will have to write one so I might as well just do it. Sorry to break the news to those of you who were hoping that once you land an agent you'll never have to write another synopsis!

Here's a few things you should ask yourself when writing a synopsis: Why are people going to want to read this book? What makes this book different from others of its kind? Be sure to include the inciting incident (that which sets the book in motion), the major plot points, the character arcs, and the climax/resolution.

I won't really get into the length a synopsis should be, that depends entirely on your agent (or the agent you're submitting to) and their preference. Make sure you know what their preference is. I've covered this in prior posts but it warrants mentioning again. I've seen some agents that asked for a one page synopsis and others that allowed three to five pages. After you've done your research on the agent you're submitting to and thoroughly checked their website and guidelines, if you're still in doubt, ask them.

My synopsis is written and sent off to my Scribe Sisters for critiquing, how about you?

12 comments:

  1. Great post! Synopsis writing is so much harder than it should be. I hate it! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is isn't it Shannon?! I think that's because a synopsis isn't so much telling a story as it is telling about a story. That one difference is what throws most of us out of our groove!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think what it is (and I just posted at my other blog about it), is that you know your story so well, and you know what goes on in it, you somehow have a DUH moment where you forget to mention these, or in such a way that makes it sound exciting to someone else.

    Like I said in "Running With Scissors" I feel that I've got a second chance at sending this out to this first publisher. I'm working on this 1-page synopsis like the world will end tomorrow if I don't get it right.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You hit it on the nose Lorelei! We know our stories so thoroughly that we tend to leave out bits we know and assume we've already mentioned. I'm bad about that! Ctit partners are great for that!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Even though writing the synopsis is a PAIN it really helps finding holes in stories and gets you to realize what your book is about. When you have to condense it to a page or two, you really have to get at the heart of it.

    But no me likey synopsis. Yuck.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Excellent point Karen. A synopsis forces us to get to the heart of our story. Maybe I should start writing mine along with the outline!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the helpful suggestions! I always agonize over synposes. I wrote a ten page one I was pretty happy with; the five page version was better, but it wasn't until I was down to one page that I realized what my story was all about! It's a good exercise, even if you're not giving it to an agent yet.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great point Lorel, the more you can narrow it down, the closer you get to the heart of the story. It's hard to hit all the plot points that way, but it's a good exercise for those agents who only want one page double spaced!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I despise writing the synopsis, but it's an awesome exercise. With my first book, it helped reveal places where my novel still needed more work. Now I find myself writing it earlier in the process, thinking through what belongs there.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Me too Portia! On both counts. The first time I was forced to write a synopsis by an instructor I was blown away by how many issues it shined light upon. Now I know I have to write one for the sake of my story!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I haven't written one yet. It's like a scary monster under my bed. Yikes.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I know huh Julie? The kind that makes you reluctant to dangle your hand over the edge of the bed!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are like good friends, the more the merrier!