Write A Great Synopsis

2012 is the year I finally finish off my two ongoing WIPS, then begin the ordeal of putting together a submission package and sending it all off. With that in mind, it’s perfect timing that I’m helping Nicola Morgan with the blog tour for her new book, Write A Great Synopsis: An Expert Guide. This short ebook has got some brilliant ideas in for turning said ordeal into something manageable and even exciting. No, really!

Without further ado, let me hand over to the Crabbit One…

Hello, Becca, and thanks for hosting me on the Write a Great Synopsis (WAGS) blog tour. Not that, *cough*, you had much choice…

I thought a sensible thing to do for my lovely blog hosts who want an actual post would be to give each one a different extract from the book. (There will be links to the whole blog tour on my blog sidebar.) So, what will I offer to your readers? Well, in WAGS I have a whole chapter devoted to answering actual questions from writers. I thought I’d give you three of them here.

What if your novel is exceptionally long?

It doesn’t mean that the synopsis should be or even needs to be. If you’ve written Anna Karenina, leave out the farming stuff and that should help a lot. A book that is very long is usually so because there are many obstacles or incidents to get through, in which case not all need be mentioned individually: “Seraphina spends fifteen years on the ranch, working her way through a series of increasingly unsuitable men” is a perfectly adequate way to convey a whole section of your saga. If your book is long because of rich description or characterisation, or farming, that is stuff which doesn’t appear in a synopsis anyway.

Do I really have to include the ending?

Another blog-reader, Laura Mary, wondered whether this is necessary if the ending gives away a vital twist, the knowledge of which will spoil the enjoyment for the reader. Yes, almost everyone agrees that endings must be given in synopses for agents and editors. Yes, it may remove some of their anticipation while reading the book, but they are professionals and they will survive the pain. Besides, if you write your synopsis well enough, they will still get that “Ahhh, clever ending!” feeling when reading the synopsis itself.

What’s more important: content or style?

Neal wondered whether it’s a “judgement call between content and style.” He says, “I’m struggling to work out the balance between making a synopsis a proof of the structure as a viable vehicle for a compelling story, and it giving an idea of style and tone, which seems to me needs a slightly more expansive approach.”

I don’t think the two ever have to be mutually exclusive. I certainly don’t think style and tone require a more expansive approach: they can be conveyed with no extra words, just well chosen words. I do understand the question, though, and can see why writers might ask it. I just believe that a writer who is even asking the question most likely has enough skill to tread the balance and satisfy the needs for both content and style. However, you cannot hope to achieve a piece of flash fiction; a synopsis is a functional exercise, little more.

(Extract ends)

Hope that was useful!

Write a Great Synopsis covers everything about synopsis-writing, clearly and reassuringly. At the end of it I believe you truly will say to yourself, “Don’t panic – it’s only a synopsis!” That is my aim.

All commenters below (by Feb 15th) will be entered into the Big WAGS Competition, with chances to win a critique of your synopsis by the Crabbit Old Bat herself! One comment per person on each blog – though you can add to your chances by commenting on the other posts on the tour. Details of all stops on the tour will appear on my blog (Help! I Need a Publisher!) as they go out.

Thank you for listening and I do hope I can help you write a great synopsis! For details about the book, including buying options, go here.  The link direct to Amazon UK is here.

Thanks again for letting me visit!

Pleasure! Now, off to write…

8 thoughts on “Write A Great Synopsis”

  1. I think this book may have saved my life! I look at my wip and feel like a sense of calm, I think about turning in to a synopsis and it’s blind panic! Sure soon this book will have seen me right.

  2. Hi Rebecca first, it seems that it’s Safari that is bugging, I can comment on Firefox. And now to Nicola, it does seem a shame to give away the ending, but I’m getting over it.

  3. It’s always great to see the answers to other people’s questions because they usually answer my own.

    One think that (thanks to my inbuilt crappy memory tool) I’ve forgotten how much it is covered in the book is if you have a book that is written with flashbacks etc, do you write the book synopsis chronologically by event or in the order presented in the book or is this a moveable feast depending on what works best I’ve probably just answered my own question there).


    Rebecca – how much do you have to go on your two WIPs? Good luck with 2012 being the completion year.

  4. Your advice is very practical and has been the most straightforward I’ve so far found – thanks. I really did think that a synopsis should be a step-by-step condensation of the book. I’m doing one now without referring to the novel and hopefully will capture the essence of it this way.

  5. Hi Becca
    A BIG public thank you to you for hosting me (not for the only time!) on my WAGS blog tour and for all you’ve done to help people know about it. Good luck to you and to all your readers, not only in your writing lives but specifically in the WAGS competition. I’ll let you know if any of your readers are amongst the winners but I have a long list of names amassing to enter into the random generator!

    Thanks again. And remember: it’s ONLY a synopsis 🙂


  6. Jane, it is indeed intreesting and chilling, if taken at face value. I also think it over-simplifies the situation. For a start, making a book available in a particular territory, language or format is not so cheap that it can be done unless a sugnificant number of likely purchasers exist. My books are not available in the US, for example, not because I, my agent or my UK publishers don’t want them to be, but because they have not yet found a publisher willing to make the necessary investment. My publisher owns most of the US rights and all my agent and i can do is push them to try to sell them. If they don’t, my book can’t be available in the US until the rights revert to me, and then my agent and I have to find a US publisher. (However, you can buy books through Book Depository, wherever you are inj the world and the postage is free ).The Lost Book Sales site DOES raise an intreesting situation and make a useful point but it’s actually an array of situations and the reasons for those situations are less straightforward.

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