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What makes a good synopsis?

(13 Posts)
SuckingEggs Tue 15-Mar-16 21:57:07

Trying to finish mine but every time I read it, I edit.

Any tips, please?

wordassociationfootball Thu 17-Mar-16 09:05:25

Brevity. Using the voice of your book. Cracking verbs. Cliche avoidance.Not vague but not too specific. No further plot revelations, only hints or questions after 2/3rds of the book.v limited sub plot secondary character strands.

Love to hear what others think!

ImperialBlether Thu 17-Mar-16 10:13:18

Agents I've spoken to say they read the first page of the first three chapters. If they don't want to read on, they shelve it then. If it's okay, they read on. If they can't be bothered after chapter one, they reject it. If it's okay, they read on. After chapter three, if the think it's okay, they'll glance at the synopsis, so at that point they're on your side.

I agree with what wordassociationfootball says about the way you should write it.

I found writing the synopsis really hard and this time when I submitted I made it more like the blurb of a book and all of the agents were happy with that. They really don't want a blow by blow account of everything that happens in the book - that tends to suck the life out of it.

SuckingEggs Thu 17-Mar-16 15:57:32

Thanks both. It's really tricky - more than the book! How many words, please?

ImperialBlether Thu 17-Mar-16 16:27:45

I've just looked at the one I sent in to the agent who accepted me and it was 530 words.

In the covering letter I also wrote the following paragraphs:

- an opening paragraph asking for representation and saying I was attaching three chapters and a synopsis

- a two line description of the book: title, genre, length and that it was complete

- a paragraph summary - a blurb - about the story

- why I like to write in that genre

- an issue I wanted to tackle in the novel

- my creative writing history - courses - self publishing, number sold (be accurate) and reviews etc

- my job and how it helped me with writing

- a thank you for reading paragraph.

SuckingEggs Thu 17-Mar-16 19:11:49

IB, that's immensely helpful. Thank you flowers

EricNorthmanSucks Fri 18-Mar-16 08:45:35

Check each agents website for submissions as different ones want different lengths of synopsis.

Some want a super short blurb type affair, others something more akin to a treatment.

You might need to write a few!

First thing is, don't over think it. Tying yourself up in knots is unhelpfulgrin.

Second, write it in present tense. A clear run through of plot ( no teasers). Keep your style consistent, this is not the place for voice.

Third, make it interesting and active but not quirky. And don't overthink it!

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 18-Mar-16 14:21:04

Yeah, I had different lengths. It gets easier with practice.
I have heard different things about whether you should give away the ending but I am of the school of thought that says you should. You're trying to show the agent you know how to tie up a story, and so many books have weak endings that if yours is killer you want to advertise the fact.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 18-Mar-16 14:24:03

There's a Nicola Morgan ebook on how to write a synopsis that I found helpful, too.

SuckingEggs Fri 18-Mar-16 15:17:18

Fabulous, thank you, you literary lot.

I've read a few guides on synopses online and they recommend revealing the plot (including twists) so I will do that.

wordassociationfootball Sun 20-Mar-16 08:48:49

Countess is right. Yes. Give away the ending. My advice was not for synopses at all blush. I'm writing two blurbs at the moment and that's the advice I would give for blurbs (I'm doing one for the London Book Fair and one for Bologna).

I also agree about the Nicola Morgan ebook. It's fantastic. There's great stuff about how you can cover 50 pages in a few words which I found liberating.

Emma Darwin's blog This Itch of Writing is a superb resource too.

EricNorthmanSucks Sun 20-Mar-16 09:30:30

Yes to setting out all the twists and the ending.

Part of the point of a synopsis is to show you can write a book as opposed to just being able to write.

Many writers can create beautiful images etc but nothing novel shaped.

SuckingEggs Sun 20-Mar-16 21:44:11

Great stuff - thanks.

I've edited and re-edited my synopsis. It's a very good tool, actually. Feels like being in an English lesson, being told to write a summary, but the forced brevity has got to be a good thing to learn.

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