Tips for writing a synopsis.

Here’s what I know about writing a synopsis. I HATE it. I mean it. There is very little I hate in this world. I am extremely easy-going and have been called happy-go-lucky by many people, but I truly hate writing a synopsis of my own work. Other people’s work is no problem. I think it’s like that for a lot of writers. We’re too close to our own work to see it clearly.

Anyway, I tried something new with my latest manuscript. I started the way I always do, a scene by scene synopsis (15 pages, single spaced!!) Then, I made a one page list of all the points I thought were important to include, WITHOUT looking at the scene by scene. Then I wrote my synopsis from that list, NOT the scene by scene. That made it 7 pages single spaced. Then I had my sister (thank you, sister!!!!) cut it down for me. She cut it to four pages single spaced (at one AM in the morning no less!) This made it seven pages long, double spaced, which is really to long for a query letter, but oh well. It’s tight and interesting, and I really don’t think I could cut it anymore. My plot is kind of intricate. I will say this though, every other synopsis I’ve ever sent out has been no more then two pages double spaced. In fact, some places (like Harlequin) don’t want a synopsis over that, so you really, really need to try to get it cut down.

I really liked this way of doing it. It was much easier than my normal way which is to take the scene by scene and cut. How do you do your synopses?

10 thoughts on “Tips for writing a synopsis.

  1. irony: they are reading a whole freaking BOOK you’ve written and you fear they’ll think you’re illiterate. Having never gotten to the synopsis part, I’m just going to guess but: If there were a test on your book, what would someone need to know?

  2. First of all, I have to say I hate writing my synopses. Hate them with a passion, so I feel your pain. As for the synopsis, after much research, I’ve found that everyone should have a short and long synopsis. The short shouldn’t be more than 2 pages but the long can vary from from 3 – 10 pages, so I think you’re good to go.

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about the cover letter. If they’ve requested your full manuscript, they already have proof you can write well. It’s just one of those things. Now, sit back and wait. that’s the hard part. Suggestion: keep writing on anything. It helps the time go by faster. Good luck. I’ll be biting my nails along with you until you share the good news. 🙂

  3. I’m terrible, I ramble and miss out parts and it ends up sounding like jibberish to anyone other than me! I think I’ll try it your way next time, sounds more organised :o)

  4. Pingback: How to get a literary agent or publisher. | Amy M. Newman

  5. I HATE writing a synopsis, too! I struggled with it for a long time until I thought about it from the perspective of my day job. I spend a lot of time teaching my students how to summarize and write concise essays. So, I adapted one of my teaching strategies to the synopsis process. It made a huge difference in how I approach the synopsis conundrum!

    I posted the strategy on my blog and you can check it out here:

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