17 August 2013

WRITING A SYNOPSIS



If you plan to pitch your book to an agent or publisher, you will need a synopsis.  Even if you plan to self publish, I believe it’s a worthwhile exercise to write a synopsis because it will make clear in your mind, in a concise manner, your complete story.

Don’t confuse a synopsis with a‘book blurb’, because they are two different things.

A book blurb is a snapshot of your story, written to catch a potential readers eye - enticing, but not giving the story away.

A synopsis is a précis (summary) of your complete story, written with a publisher or agent in mind.  It encompasses the main conflict, the plots twists and turns, and the final resolution.  It’s length can be anything from one to ten pages depending on the length of the book.  My own have been up to two pages in length.  Following is the first paragraph of one of them:-


JAMES WEARING, a forty-five year old archaeologist, returns to Sydney in the knowledge his brother, ALEX, an eminent professor, has been murdered.  At the same time, a Celtic dagger, gold torque and a ring are reported missing from the University of Sydney where Alex and James work.  When James finds the dagger in his office and it is later found to be the murder weapon, he becomes, CHIEF INSPECTOR FITZJOHN’S, prime suspect.  James sets about to find his brother’s killer and to prove his innocence.

A synopsis is written in the present tense, focusing on the main character while mentioning secondary characters and sub-plots in passing.  It has all relevant elements of your story without telling the whole story, but enough to enable a publisher and/or agent, to assess your work.

There are many books to be found on writing a synopsis like this one  THE DREADED SYNOPSIS by Elizabeth Sinclair.

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3 comments:

  1. Good advice Jill, a good synopsis is very important in pitching a manuscript. I, personally, find it very hard to condense a story, so I usually write it, then keep paring down the paragraphs until I have it at an acceptable length.

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    1. I think describing it as the dreaded synopsis, as Elizabeth Sinclair does in her book is an apt description of what it's like when you start writing one, Anna. Not an easy task.

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  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

    http://tattleterry.blogspot.com/

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