Publishing Tips, Writing Tips

The Dreaded Synopsis

Recently, when my agent asked for a synopsis for my new manuscript, my shoulders slumped. Let’s face it. It’s no simple task. To boil your story down into a one-page summary is a little daunting. How will I not lose the essence of the story? Every published author out there has had to create a synopsis in their writing career, many still do. If I wanted my creative work out there too, then I just had to do it.

The purpose of a synopsis is to inform an agent or publisher of the book you are writing/ or have written. It is to help orientate with the story. Below is a little information on how I prepared my synopsis.

The first paragraph – The introduction- The first thing potential Agents/Publishers will read. It would help if you gave them the hook. An opening sentence could be something like this example- Set in a suburban home, Mr Potatohead is shocked when Mrs Potatohead packs her bags and leaves him. Here we have introduced the setting, the character and the problem.

You could also add to this first paragraph, something like. – Stubborn, quick-witted Mr Potatohead has to face the terrible reality of his new life. He struggles to adhere to the demands of being rejected. This sentence adds his characteristics and the challenge he encounters.

In this first paragraph, you could close it off by adding a part of the plot- etc. When he takes matters into his own hands of finding a new wife at the local department store, his plans are altered when Ethan, a human child, snatches him from a busy street. In these sentences, we have moved the story along but have also added the Antagonist.

Second paragraph- The major plot of the story. What sparks the central conflict of the story? For example. Where did Mr Potatohead end up and what he does to fix the problem? Give away the height of the action, the exciting plot of the story. The tension and obstacles that stand in the way of him finding his home, him finding his wife. Include the character’s motivation. Only mention vital characters who move the plot along. Who create the events to happen. Hook the Agent/Publisher with the exciting bits of your storyline. Highlight any unique plot twists.

Final paragraph – how to end the synopsis. Is the resolve, the ending of the story. Always reveal the end of your story, unless the submission guidelines state that they don’t want to know. (Some publishing houses like to keep the ending a surprise but always check) You need to bring the arc to a close. Reveal any surprised endings.

Tips to remember – make sure your writing flows – make sure it representatives your writing. If it flows, then your manuscript will flow. If it’s hard to read, an agent/publisher won’t want to spend time with something that’s hard to read.

With a synopsis, you need to tell the story, not show as you do in your manuscript. Wordiness- does it waffle on with pointless parts of the story that contribute nothing. If it does, cut it down. A synopsis should be around 500 to 700 words. If unsure check with the submission guidelines of the agent or publisher you intend to send it to.

Lastly, remember you have taken the time to create a magnificent manuscript that you are proud of. Take time preparing a synopsis that does your manuscript justice. You could have the most fantastic manuscript, but if your synopsis is uninteresting or rushed, then chances are an agent or publishing house will not attempt to read your story.

Please note the above is the way I drafted my synopsis for my agent. It may vary from country to country, but the process may still be the same. Also just to let you know my manuscript has nothing to do with Mr Potatohead. I hope this information helps anyone struggling to start the daunting task of completing a synopsis.

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