Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How To Write The Dreaded Synopsis

Hello friends! Today we're going to talk about one of the worst words in the history of writing. Brace yourselves. Maybe grab a drink or 10. I know I did. You ready? Now don't go running away when you hear this word okay? STAY STRONG.


I know I know, I'm sorry I scared you! Please don't cry. Please don't.

That word strikes fear into 99% of writers. Here we writers are, pouring our blood, sweat, tears and imagination all over paper (or computer?) and we've ruthlessly chopped it up and had others chop it up to make it beautiful. And then we go to submit to agents or Online Publishing Houses and they smack you with this:

"Please hand in a synopsis."


If you're a writer whose had to write a synopsis this reaction is perfectly normal. If you're a fresh faced writer who has never heard of it and you think "oh, so just a summery then. No problem!" then you're in for a rude awakening. Go head, go try and write a detailed summary of your entire novel in two pages. In fact, go research how to write a synopsis.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Ah, I see you're in tears and haven't slept for two days after doing your research and are on the brink of a psychotic breakdown. Welcome to the club! Now that you've seen how terrifying a synopsis is, I'm going to help you so that you can get your book out into the world okay!?

I can't tell you how many website and blogs I went through trying to find out how to write them. And the problem is that most of them will tell you to do TWO DIFFERENT THINGS AT THE SAME TIME. To spare you having to research more, here's a summary of what they say a synopsis should be:

"Your synopsis should be no longer than 2 pages. You need to be able to tell all of the important parts AND the ending. Don't leave us guessing. Also, while only giving the bare bones of your story you need to write in your writing style. Make us interested. Make us want read it so that we get a feel for your voice. But make sure its short and concise."

Do you see why it's so confusing? How the hell are you supposed to write a short, concise, bare bones synopsis but also imbue it with imagery and our 'voice'? HOW THE HELL!?!? Don't worry, I'm going to clear this up for you.

Basically, there are two ways to write a synopsis. One is to give the bare bones, cut and dry story. Think writing papers for college. No imagery or prose. Just the facts ma'am. The other way is to write it with lots of imagery and in your writing style. So what if it's 5 pages!? It's beautiful! Its a fantasy rich world and you're showing a sample of how your book is written.

But somewhere along the way the internet decided that you need to do both at the same time. So here's the good news:

That's right! Throw away the straight jacket and stop pulling out your hair. You only have to pick one style! Isn't that great!?!? The only problem of course, is you don't know what style the agent or Online Publishing House is looking for. You're just going to have to take an educated guess and hope for the best. And there's nothing I can do to help you with that, other than to suggest writing two synopsis; one with only an outline, and the other with lots of imagery/in your voice etc.

Honestly synopsis's suck to write no matter which path you pick. It's hard and frustrating because often times we're too close to our story to see what's important and what's not. So my advice to you on that matter is this: Have some one whose read your book read your synopsis. They can probably tell you what's important and what's not (it's helpful if the person is also a writer).

As for the process of writing a synopsis I have a few tips, and hopefully they help you out!

Synopsis Writing Tips (as written by a girl who hates writing them): 

-When introducing your main character or important supporting characters put their name in CAP LOCKS the first time you introduce them. After that, just write their name as normal

-Your synopsis can be single spaced if it's only 2 pages (unless stated otherwise on an agent or publisher's website) 

-If you really have no idea where to start, write 2 to 3 sentence summary of each chapter. It'll help you figure out what's important from that chapter (if any) and then you can decide what to cut out or keep in after that! It worked for my YA  Synopsis really well!


-Pick one way of writing it. Don't try to make a concise synopsis along with putting in your writing voice. It's not possible to do it in 2 pages. Or maybe it is: but I've yet to see anyone do it.

-DRINKING WHILE WRITING THIS IS ENCOURAGED (but your choice of drink of course. I always head straight for wine. Perhaps you like coffee. I suggest wine)

There you have it! I hope this has helped clear up a lot of the nonsense written on the internet! Because let me tell you, reading the opposing views and opinions of writers on blogs nearly made me give up hope of ever trying to write a synopsis and therefore ever submitting my books. SO PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR BOOKS! Because I believe in you!

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