The manuscript continues to confound me, and I continue to try to **not** be frustrated, to remind myself that all books and stories grow in their own time, that the plotline will eventually make sense to me…some days, I’m more successful at these attempts to comfort myself than others.
In the meantime, I’ve been going through old files, partly to remind myself that even if it doesn’t feel like it on a daily basis, on a long-term basis, I’ve actually made progress and grown as a writer. The other part is to look at my notes and remember how difficult the manuscript was, but look at that!, I finished it.
The hilarious thing is that I came across a synopsis that I wrote–and submitted–in 2008. I’d forgotten back then a short synopsis was four pages, double-spaced. Four pages?! That’s a novel! These days it’s one page (two is pushing it, though I have seen editors/authors/agents say that two pages is fine, so perhaps it’s best to read the submission guidelines (and to have both a one-page and two-page synopsis at the read).
Some things to remember when writing a synopsis:
- Brevity — a synopsis details the main storyline and follows the arc of the main characters. Resist the urge to tell the agent/editor every single detail. At best, you have 500 words. Don’t waste them by focusing on the weather instead of the plot or characters.
- Introduction of characters — when I first mention a character, their name is in all-caps (i.e., Enter JOHN SMITH, the town crier and resident lost boy).
- Business, not artistry — while it feels counter-intuitive to *no* add flair and dramatics to the synopsis, don’t. That’s not its job. Its job is to give the editor/agent a sense of the story in a straight-forward way. And while we’re at it…
- Give the ending — the blurb is the back-jacket cover and that’s what will show up in your query letter. The synopsis is for the editors/agents, so you need to tell them the ending (they need to see how you resolve the storyline)
- The format — For me, I try to answer 5 questions when writing a synopsis: (1) Who are the main characters? (2) What is the event that unsets their lives? (3) How do they try to fix that event? (4) How does them trying to fix the problem make it worse? (5) What is the resolution?
There it is, some of the things I keep in mind when writing a synopsis.