Writing a synopsis is often dreaded by writers. While some love it, others loath the process of condensing down their story into a page (or less). I use a step by step process to write a synopsis, and I still find it difficult. I’ve been working on my synopsis for novel 2, Vanishing Act, this week. These are some of the things I’ve realised you need to know to write your synopsis. Of course, you already know these, but I found it helpful to jot them down before I started writing it.
The key players
Main characters are easy. Protagonist, antagonist etc…but the synopsis is all about the key players of the story. The people who need to be mentioned in order for your summary of the plot to make sense. You could have regularly present supporting characters, who add to the main character but not the plot directly. Likewise, you can have a minor role that proves vital to the direction of the story. Take some to think about those you really need to mention, and those you could leave out. Your synopsis shouldn’t include your whole cast.
The main conflicts
The synopsis is an outline of your story, but it still needs to be packed with tension and intrigue. You still want the agent/publisher to be drawn in enough to read your first three chapters. All stories have conflicts, in some way or another. And these conflicts are what drives your readability, and keep people eager to press on and see what happens next.
Why do your characters do the things they do? Even if you’ve never thought about it directly, your characters are surely motivated to behave the way they do in your story. Maybe they want to save somebody’s life, or discover a hidden treasure, or find someone who is lost. They may want to avenge someone they love, or steal a sum of money or catch a criminal. Motives are vital to characters and their arcs, and so these need to be clear in your synopsis.
Yep, most agents/publishers want to see how your story ends. This can be hard to accept when you want your big twist or final reveal to be a surprise. But often, those you’re reaching out to want a sense of the story as a whole. And that means divulging your secret and spilling your spoilers. Make sure you have a clear ending laid out here.
Side note: Some agents do specifically ask for no spoilers in the synopsis, so make sure you’ve done your research before you send it out.
What have I missed? What else is key to a good synopsis? Like I said above, I do find this process tricky, so advice is always welcome. Pop your tips and tricks in the comments below.