Nailing the synopsis is critically important on authonomy, when that little snippet of prose makes all the difference between your book flying into the editorial desk or falling off the radar.
Luckily, writing consultant and award-winning author Nicola Morgan is at hand to share her wisdom on perfecting this tricky literary nugget. Her 5-star rated Write A Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide is out on Amazon now.
A few words about synopses, by Nicola Morgan
“Synopsis” – so many different things to so many different people. Which is part of the problem: no one agrees on the meaning. Bit like life.
So, people, let’s crack this. It’s not so difficult. The word means, literally, “together seeing”, so we are looking for something that allows the reader to see the whole thing (book) at once. Thus, it’s a short way of seeing the whole book.
But how short? Well, here’s the first question you ask yourself: what is this synopsis FOR?
If it’s for an agent or publisher, it should be as short as the submission guidelines specify. If there aren’t any, up to two pages, single-spaced, sensible font and size.
If it’s for yourself, so that you can see how your book pans out, as long or short as you want. Seriously, decorate it with sparkly tendrils, if you wish.
If it’s for your lovely, gorgeous readers on Amazon and you’re in charge of the publishing process, SHORT, really really short. Like, 250 words max. (No sparkly tendrils.) BUT, although we might call that a synopsis, it’s not. Because if we’re to show ALL the book, we have to show the ending, and that’s the last (literally) thing you want to show your readers. So, a “synopsis” that you might put on Amazon or wherever for your readers is a shorter-than-normal-synopsis thing without the ending. And for that you will write it in whatever way makes your book sound fantabulously compelling, in as few words as possible.
BUT, BUT, BUT: the synopsis that agents or publishers annoyingly want before they will give you a deal is different from that synopsis. It’s a) the scary thing and b) not at all scary because a) it’s the least important part of the package (though that doesn’t make it UNimportant) and b) it simply requires you to give the bare bones of your book and doesn’t need to be a thing of Wondrous Beauty. I promise. Functional Reasonableness is all you require, with only a moderate degree of style. As long as it hangs together, which is what you are actually being tested on. If you can write a book, you can write a synopsis, honestly. Relax.
Writing a synopsis of YOUR book is stressful, though, because you are so close to your book. You think everything is more important than it is. Try to forget all the details and sequence and just think: Who is it about? What drives them? What will they lose if they fail? What sort of obstacles get in the way and how do these obstacles test them? How do they overcome them?
That’s is basically it! I have some suggested methods and some examples in Write a Great Synopsis, and I answer lots of specific questions that writers have asked me. It’s a calm and calming book, I hope, sensible and straightforward, and it will sort out any fears or confusions you have and make you realize that this synopsis thing is just a tool, with the aim that the reader will get certain information. It also has opinions of agents and editors, to reassure you.
Would you like the chance to win a critique of your synopsis by me? The details are here and all the blog posts that you can comment on are to the right of the page. Comment away! I want to help.
Full details of the book, including purchase links, are here. It’s not a long book, priced at £2.25(ish) and remember: you do not need a Kindle or e-reader – you can use a computer or whatever, too.
And there’s a quick video trailer made by my daughter here.