Do you feel like this when you think about writing a synopsis? I know I do!
- I’ve written a manuscript.
- I’ve polished a manuscript.
- I’ve written a query letter.
- I’ve polished a query letter.
- I’ve researched agents.
- I've weeded out agents.
- Now all I have left (what I’ve been putting off for months) is the EVIL synopsis.
I am aware that some agents don’t want it, but better safe than sorry. And I’m not capable of whipping out a synopsis on a whim. So if you are like me and need to tackle the synopsis, I’m going to share what I’ve learned:
Keep it simple. Stick to just the main plot. Leave out all characters but the main ones. Leave out subplots. Leave out as many proper names as you can. No themes. No symbolism. No flowery description. Simple. Simple. Simple.
Use story structure as your guide. I stole this from Janice Hardy’s blog (read her post on writing a synopsis) and it really helped me. A synopsis is structured something like this:
- Opening Scene
- Inciting Incident
- Act One Crisis
- Act Two Revelation
- Mid Point Reversal
- Act Three Disaster
- Wrap Up
I used this to decide what should stay and what should go.
Use tension and conflict to your benefit. Use paragraph breaks to act as mini cliffhangers to propel the synopsis forward. Make us bite our nails wanting to know what is next.
Don’t be afraid to write a terrible synopsis. You have to start somewhere. And thanks to the magic of computers—you can always edit :)
Spoil the ending. A synopsis in NOT a hook. It is meant to show agents that you know how to construct a story. So throw it all in; twists, surprises, cliffhangers, and a well executed ending. Don’t use the synopsis as a teaser.
Get a second opinion. Once you think you have it down let someone who hasn’t read your MS read your synopsis. Does it make sense to them? Are the stakes clear? Do they want to continue reading from paragraph to paragraph?
There you have it. Sadly that is all the synopsis knowledge I possess. What about you? Does anyone have any great tips?