Morning writers, I hope you’ve had a lovely week.
A couple of weeks ago I started writing a synopsis based on the early draft of my second novel. Like many writers, I find synopsis writing tedious, difficult and frustrating. However, they are a necessary evil, published or unpublished.
The method I ended up using this time round actually made the process much easier, and I did it in steps. Please note this is by no means a tried and tested method, with no guarantee that it’ll work for you. But it worked well for me, so I thought I’d share. If you have any synopsis writing tips of your own please pop them in the comments below, as I’m always keen on new ideas and advice.
1. Write a bullet list of key points
In this first step it’s important not to think too hard. Write a list of the key points in your story, but don’t worry about what you’re including. Use the first points that come into your head. Chances are that if they stand out, they’re important.
2. Revise the list, with more thought
Now look back over your list. Delete any points that aren’t essential, and add any that you’ve forgotten. Remember, a synopsis should not include every plot point, sub-plot or character. It is supposed to be an outline of the story and only major plot points and key players need to be mentioned. Adding too much will make your synopsis too lengthy, and many agents/publishers are looking for short and snappy.
3. Write a paragraph for each point
Look back over your bullet points and write a paragraph on each point. What you’re doing here is taking the plot point, and turning one line into a full paragraph. Write as much as you need to at this stage. The next step involves editing.
4. Whittle down the paragraphs
Time to cut those paragraphs down. As mentioned above, a synopsis is not supposed to be too long. Take out unnecessary descriptive words, small details that don’t really matter, and mentions of characters that don’t really carve the basic outline of your story.
5. Link the paragraphs
More editing. You now need to get these paragraphs to link. While they should still be standalone paragraphs, make sure they flow into one another in a way that is natural to read, and fits in the correct chronological order.
6. Check for spoilers
9 times out of 10 your synopsis should include spoilers. Who committed the crime, who takes the throne, who saves the day…whatever your major plot twist or reveal, it should be included. That said, make sure you do your research. I attended a writing event, and found out an agent I wanted to pitch to hated spoilers in the synopsis. In this incident, you should save a version of the synopsis with no spoilers, or warn the agent that spoilers are present.
7. Save different versions
Different agents/publishers will have different preferences when it comes to a synopsis. When submitting to agents, always check what they’re after. As mentioned above, some want spoilers, others don’t. Some want 500 words, others 1,000. It is worth having various versions saved, to suit different needs. However, be prepared to adjust your synopsis where needed, to suit the agent you are sending to.
What do you think? is this a method you’re going to try? Remember, this worked for me, but may not work for everybody. And it’s also worth noting that you will likely need to tweak your synopsis as you make submissions, especially if you’re not getting any interest.
Share your tips below, as I am super keen to learn more about this process,