Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WRITING THE NOVEL SYNOPSIS

WRITING THE NOVEL SYNOPSIS

In a previous blog I mentioned that when you pitch your novel you need to have a strong synopsis ready to roll. Next to query letters the synopsis is the single most dreaded piece of writing a writer faces. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some notes on writing that pesky synopsis.

WHAT IS A SYNOPSIS?

*****: A synopsis is a narrative summary of your novel, written with brevity but with style and feeling.

*****: A synopsis is always written in present tense.

*****: A synopsis is always written in third person.

*****: A synopsis is written in the same style as your book, which means if the novel is spooky and moody, then so is the synopsis. If your book is action-packed, fast-paced, filled with dialect, or any other style, your synopsis should be as well.

*****: The synopsis introduces all of your main characters and each of their essential conflicts, all woven together in the narrative. (It does not list your characters.)

*****: Weaving, by the way, is important. One paragraph should flow logically to the next. If you are switching ideas, you need to make sure you build in a transition to connect your paragraphs.

*****: You do not have to include every character or every scene, plot point, or subplot in your synopsis. But your synopsis should give a clear idea as to what your book is about, what characters we will care about (or dislike), what is at stake for your heroes, what they stand to lose, and how it all turns out.

*****: Yes, you must put the conclusion to your novel in your synopsis. No cliffhangers or teasers. Agents and editors want to know that you know how to successfully conclude your story. (Often agents don't read the synopsis until after they've read the entire ms--but not always.)

FORMATTING YOUR SYNOPSIS

In the upper left hand corner you should have the following info: Synopsis of "Title here" Genre:................. Word count: By__________
e.g.

Synopsis of PATIENT ZERO
Thriller
140,000 Words
By Jonathan Maberry


*****: If the synopsis is going to run one page, single-space it.

*****: Synopses longer than one page should be double-spaced. Its paragraphs are usually indented, with no spaces between paragraphs.

*****: Don’t use a cover page or any fancy headings or fonts. Stick with Times New Roman or Courier, at 10-12 points (12 is preferred unless you’re really trying to fit it to one page)


TIPS ON WRITING THE SYNOPSIS

*****: Does the opening paragraph have a strong narrative hook to grab the reader and keep him reading?

*****: Are your main characters' conflicts clearly defined?

*****: Are your characters sympathetic?

*****: Can the reader relate to them and worry about them?

*****: Have you avoided all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes?

*****: Have you hit on the major scenes, the major plot points of your book?

*****: Did you resolve all important conflicts?

*****: Did you use present tense?

1 comment:

Stephen Lowe said...

Hi Jonathan!

Thanks for posting this info! I'm not ready for this step, but when I am, know I'll be coming here for the info!

Thanks for helping all us newbs out! :)

Stephen