By Meredith Bond
A synopsis should be the easiest thing in the world to write since it is a summary of your book. So what’s so hard about writing a synopsis? Simple: You know too much―every detail of every character in your book. Unfortunately all of it can’t go into the synopsis.
The trick in writing a synopsis is what to leave out. All of the fabulous scenes filled with passion, tension or humor—they’ve all got to be left right where they are, in your manuscript. Only include the big turning points, and don’t forget to let your reader know what kind of book you’ve written. If your book is funny, your synopsis should be funny. If it’s romantic, your synopsis should be romantic.
Let’s get started: Start your synopsis with a great hook (first paragraph) that will draw in your reader (usually an editor or agent). If you don’t grab them right off with a compelling hook, they’re not going to take the time to read the rest.
If your novel is character driven, then you’d probably want to include a paragraph about each of your major characters. If you’re writing a romance, you would have one about your hero, heroine and villain, especially if the villain is an individual who plays a major role in the story.
We want to know what their internal and external goal, motivation and conflicts are and nothing else, unless, of course the details are vital to understanding your story. Also, be sure to keep these paragraphs short and sweet (for more on this method read Deb Dixon’s book Goal, Motivation and Conflict).
Here are two forms of synopses you can implement:
The inductive synopsis (like a newspaper article) starts out with the big picture and then works its way to the details. This format is great for plot driven novels. Start with your story’s question―what are your characters trying to do or figure out throughout the story: For example, will Dorothy ever get home from the magical Land of Oz? Questions must be specific and include story details. This can go right into your first paragraph either with your hook, or as your hook. Questions like “Will Mary ever find true love?” or “Will the detective ever find the killer?” won’t work. The rest of the synopsis will focus on the major events in which your characters try to find the answer.
In the deductive synopsis— after your first few paragraphs detailing your character’s GMCs and maybe one about the world (especially if you’re writing science fiction or fantasy), your synopsis will start to form from the beginning and go right to the end hitting only those major turning points. Careful, you don’t want a laundry list of this or that happened. You’ll need to infuse these events with emotion and excitement without being wordy.
For the conclusion of your synopsis, you need to include the book’s ending. Editors and agents will want to know, even if it’s a mystery. Good luck!