How Writing a Great Synopsis Can Help Your Book

By on October 30, 2016
How Writing a Great Synopsis Can Help Your Book - Writer's

Every author dreads writing their synopsis, and yet it is one of the most important parts to get right when it comes to approaching publishers and agents about your book.

Why is writing a synopsis so difficult? You know your story, and its characters inside out - you’ve written a whole book about them after all, so being able to sum it up in a few paragraphs should be easy... right?

Well, no, it’s really, really not.

Usually, the problem is precisely that - you know your book far too well and are far too involved in it to be able to condense 100 thousand words into a few paragraphs or even a few pages. How can you possibly leave out any detail without ruining the story or making it impossible to understand? If you don’t adequately describe your protagonist and their history how will the reader get a sense of their rich and tangled past?

The truth is that you don’t need to include every plot twist and every detail in your synopsis. By definition, a synopsis is an outline, a summary. As with most elements of writing and editing, producing the perfect synopsis takes practice. However, the great thing about it is once you do have a fantastic synopsis in hand not only will you significantly improve your chances of a publisher or agent looking at your work with greater interest, you will also improve your manuscript along the way.

Don’t try to write the perfect synopsis on your first attempt. If you start writing it and you know it is going to be way too long that’s OK. But when you have finished read over it and look at what you have decided to keep and which scenes or details you decided to leave out. Then ask yourself ‘do I need these scenes in my book at all?’ If you can write a lengthy synopsis without touching on them, are they that important? Do they actually enhance your story in any way? If they do perhaps you just need to revisit that scene or chapter and make it stand out more, make it more interesting and significant, give it a little more oomph.

Writing your synopsis can also reveal your books themes. When writing your synopsis you’ll be picking the most important details from each chapter - when you have gone through your entire book doing this; you should see pattern or theme emerging. This can be so helpful when it comes to defining your books genre and your target audience. Alternatively, it can show you that perhaps your book doesn’t yet have a theme - and this might be something you need to work on.

Your synopsis can become your plot outline and vice versa. Next time you are struggling to write your synopsis, why not look over your plot outline and see if it is not already written? If you are the kind of author who loves to plan your plot, it might be that your synopsis is already there. Alternatively, try writing your books synopsis before you start your story or even when you are halfway through it. It might just influence the outcome!

Writing a synopsis is never easy, but if you can look at it in a positive light - as a tool to help improve your work, perhaps next time you sit down to do it, it will feel more like a challenging but helpful writing exercise rather than something painful and laborious. At the end of the day we all have to do it, and so the sooner you can learn how to use synopsis writing to your advantage the better!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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