Novelists often moan and groan when it comes to writing a synopsis, and complain that their masterpiece can’t be whittled down to a single page. Well, it’s time to get over it, because if you want any agents or publishers to look at your work, you’re going to need to write a decent synopsis.
If you used The Novel Factory to plan and write your novel, then you’re already halfway there. But if you didn’t, here are a few important pointers when writing your synopsis:
Don’t rush it
It’s tempting to think that it’s only a single page, it’s not as important as the novel, so you can just dash something off and be done with it. But this is really shooting yourself in the foot, because if the synopsis isn’t up to scratch, then nobody’s ever going to see the full novel.
Distilling an entire novel into a single page is an extremely difficult task, and should be given the attention and effort it requires. It’s much harder to be concise than it is to waffle, and often writing a synopsis is an excellent exercise for writers who are sloppily wordy.
Many novelists make the mistake of writing the synopsis in a very dry, this happened, then that happened manner. This is a mistake, because what draws readers into a book is emotion (yes, even in spy action novels!) and leaving inner turmoil out of the synopsis will give the impression of a flat novel. The synopsis should include the key emotional struggles the protagonist goes though, the major relationships between the key players and how they change by the end of the story.
Don’t try to include everything
This is probably the most common pitfall. You may feel that all the details, characters and events are important and fascinating, but the core story arc of your novel needs to stand up on its own, without the sub-plots and all the twists and turns. Every single word and point has to justify its inclusion in the synopsis – if you’re not sure whether it’s critical to the core plot and relationships between the main characters – leave it out.
Do include the end
Novelists might be reluctant to give away the end of the novel feeling that it will ruin the book for the agent before they’ve read it. But a synopsis without the end is incomplete and will not serve its purpose. The agent wants to be sure that they’re not going to invest the time reading the book only for it to have a spectacularly poorly thought out conclusion, such as aliens, an act of god, or ‘it was all a dream’.
The Novel Factory is novel writing software which helps you write your novel, and practically writes your synopsis for you (sort of). Why not have a free trial? Go to the www.novel-software.com.