Friday, January 14, 2011

Synopsiphobia - Fear of Writing A Synopsis

Writing a synopsis is one of the most grueling and intimidating aspects of the submission process. 

Query letters are easy compared to the dreaded 3-4 page synopsis that goes with your proposal. But this mini-novel is a very important part of the pitch for your manuscript.  

So making it the best you can possibly create is essential.

One major aspect to consider is format...

~ Not all agents or publishers accept the same type of synopsis.~

Some require a one-page, while others would like an "Extended Synopsis" of three or four pages.

They are generally written in PRESENT tense, THIRD PERSON.

~ This is regardless of your novel's POV.~

They are single spaced.

The top left-hand corner has your book title/name in the header. Some people also add the genre and word count.

There are three main sections: The Hook, The Background, The Stakes.

The Hook
Start with an exciting statement. What is the character's major dilemma or conflict? How might they react? You worry over the first sentence of your the same over  your synopsis.

The Background
Introduce your character with just enough info to make things clear. Who is the book about. What kind of person are they? Make sure they are sympathetic to your reader. Make them care what happens.

The Stakes
These are your plot points only list the MAJOR ones. List the public AND private stakes. Show how they escalate. Create tension.

Remember: This is NOT where you have cliff-hangers or questions. This is the whole story.

Finally don't forget the punctuation and grammar. This is a professional pitch for your product...polish it up.

There are many websites out there that offer more in-depth, step-by-step guides on the synopsis. One of the best is...Charlotte Dillon

Her website has a link to many winning synopses. Take a moment to check them out. What works for you...what doesn't?

The important thing is to keep in mind that this represents you as an author, so take the time to make it as clear, concise, and professional as possible.

Until next time...Go Write.