The Not So Dreaded Synopsis.

When you’re querying, you will find that most agents request a synopsis along with a query. The synopsis, for those of you who don’t know, is a short summary of your book. In other words, you need to take your 74,000 word novel and summarize it in 500 words! Fun, right?

Impossible, I declared. I complained and cried, pouted and moaned, and finally sat my butt down and wrote. First attempt, 1400 words. Okay, that’s a bit too long. I cried some more, and then my lovely friend shared a great link in which the author summarized Star Wars in a few short, compact paragraphs. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen that movie enough times to know it backwards and forwards, but after reading the synopsis, something just clicked. My second attempt was in the 500 word range, and became the synopsis I used when querying agents. And I actually had fun while writing it! Who expected that? Certainly not me!

So what did I do? I focused on the facts by following the main storyline that starts at the beginning and takes us all the way through to the end. Anything that I considered a side story, or not important to the main storyline, I omitted. Sure, it’s still important, but when you’re trying to tell an agent your entire story in about 500 words, you really don’t need to write about a fight your main character had with her parents when it’s quickly resolved a few chapters later, no harm done. If the fight she had with her parents triggered something major to happen, then yes, you would include it. But all the little things that happen to your characters that you may have spent weeks writing? Don’t even mention them in your synopsis.

You also need to keep your sentences precise and to the point. Use as little words as possible, and don’t feel weird if you’re summarizing an entire chapter in one sentence. That’s actually really good! Each word is important, so make sure they all count!

The main reason I had fun while writing the synopsis was because I stuck as close to my narrator’s voice as possible. Yes, my book was written in the first person and yes, the synopsis must be written in the third person, but as I wrote it, I imagined that my narrator was telling the story. For example, how did she feel when this scene happened? Writing with your character in mind gives the synopsis a unique flair, making it much more interesting than the basic “and then this happened” ones.

Coming up with a working synopsis will take time, so don’t give up if your first few attempts are too long or too wordy. Keep trying (you might want to start from scratch each time, but that’s up to you), and eventually you will succeed! Good luck! For more tips, please see this great post!

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4 thoughts on “The Not So Dreaded Synopsis.

    • Your title made me lol. (And that’s how I felt about the query! Funny how you didn’t mind that, while I didn’t mind the synopsis!)

      I think part of the reason I nailed it was because of my narrator’s very unique voice. So I owe a lot of thanks to her! 🙂

  1. I’ve always thought that my synopses make the story sound stupid and trite. I dread people saying, “Oh, you’re writing a novel. What’s it about?” Uhhh, where to begin? It just takes practice though, as you said.

    • The way I see it, you’ve put so much time and effort into your story, so you’re bound to love it, right? Therefore, the synopsis, which is just a giant summary of something you love, definitely won’t be stupid and trite! Where to begin? The beginning, of course! 🙂 As long as you keep telling yourself, “summarize the important stuff,” you should be fine!

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