my synopsis handout from today
WRITE THAT SYNOPSIS
Check your target agent/publisher’s site and follow their directions. They’re looking for reasons to reject you. Do they prefer a mini-outline or a quick summary (e.g. back-cover copy with spoilers)?
EVERY SYNOPSIS SHOULD CONTAIN:
- information about the plot, the core conflict and the characters’ GMC. (see other sheet for definition)
- word count and genre (usually in first sentence)
- The title, your name, and contact info on every page.
- Too much emphasis on first 3 chapters. (An editor says, “I can tell when it’s based on a partial. That’s fine for authors I know and trust, but not for new authors.)
- Hit main points and avoid unnecessary detail. Ask yourself is this fact or scene necessary to understand the characters or plot of my book?
BEFORE YOU SEND, SHOW IT TO SOMEONE WHO HASN’T READ YOUR BOOK:
- 25 words or so, what is this story about?
- Can you describe the characters’ GMC?
- Can you tell me about the core conflict?
Their answers will help you write cover copy and the tag-line
QUOTES FROM EDITORS:
(Samhain, Harlequin, Harper-Collins, Simon and Schuster, Kensington—and an agent)
Agent: Hates questions posed in synopses. State the facts simply and straightforward. Save the “will he overcome his hatred of vampires?” for the back cover copy.
Editor: If you ask questions, just be sure to answer them. It’s not my favorite format but I’ll tolerate it.
Editor: In romance, the emphasis should be on the romance. I want to see how the hero and heroine grow and change because of love and how the external and internal conflicts are resolved.
Editor: Don't hide the ending or leave me hanging--I don't want to be surprised… Don’t worry about your style, just tell story. I don’t read them for style, just to find out if there’s enough tension for an entire book.
Editor: I don’t like excerpts in synopses instead of telling plot details. Seems like author can't be bothered.I also hate synopses that switch from past to present tense.
Editor: get rid of subplots and secondary characters’ names.
Editor: If you’re writing a romance, don’t forget the development of the romance. It’s the core of the book. If you’re writing an erotic novel, don’t forget to include what sort of sex they have and when. Sometimes I see synopses of erotic novels and no sex is even mentioned, just plot points—when the sex is supposed to be integral to the plot.
Remember the synopsis is your friend! You can nail plot holes and weak conflict by crafting one. If you’re having too much trouble with a synopsis, maybe there are deeper troubles with the book. Let your synopsis help you become a better plotter.
For more help, check out:
Lisa Gardner: http://www.lisagardner.com/tricks/synopsis.htm
Bob Mayer (go watch him here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmF3Zr3L2tI )