I like to write. It feels really good to be in my comfy desk chair, my research piled around me, my fingers flying over the keyboard. What I don’t so much care for is all the extra stuff writers need to do, such as writing a synopsis. Still, I know it is an important part of any proposal. No synopsis, no book deal.
So how can you write a successful synopsis? Follow these 5 steps:
- Start Right. Your first paragraph should be sharp enough to grab the editor’s attention. Think of it as a possible jacket blurb. Establish the mood and tone right at the beginning.
- Introduce your Main Characters. Flesh them out enough to make them real, but leave out what is not essential. Succinctly lay out their motivations, conflicts, and goals.
- Construct the Body of Your Synopsis. Tell your story, taking care to include the high points—conflicts and resolutions–in the order in which they occur. Include a few bits of dialog–strong lines (funny, exciting, interesting) that reveal important information. Keep your writing tight.
- End with the Crisis and Final Resolution. Nope, don’t keep the editor guessing about how your story ends. Make the resolution as compelling as possible.
- Edit Until it is the Best You Can Make it: Rewrite until every word and every sentence is right. Be certain the synopsis is entirely written in the present tense. Keep it concise but strong; the best length is no more than three pages.
Easy? Nope. Important? Absolutely!
“Every writing project must be reduced before you start to write.”
William Zinsser, On Writing Well