05 December 2010

Writing synopsis (2)

I'm writing synopsis for my NaNo novel to submit to SoYouThinkYouCanWrite contest. As I find writing synopsis much more difficult than writing the actual novel I've tried to gather advice on how to do it first.
There is a summary of what I've found.

5 rules of writing a synopsis:

1. Synopsis is narrative summary of your novel; it tells the story, hence goes beyond the plot, introducing your characters and showing the conflict and the main emotional arc; the events of the story should be shown as they appear in your novel

2. You need to start with a good hook and end up showing the resolution of the story conflict (no cliffhangers allowed!); include major plot twists and turns, but not every detail

3. In the next paragraphs you introduce your characters showing their goals, motivations and conflict; you need to show how they change as the effect of the emotional journey they embark at the beginning of your story (action-reaction-decision); focus on the main characters, introduce secondary characters only if necessary and relevant to the emotional journey of your H&H

4. The body of your synopsis should have three major parts: Introduction (The precipitating event, which sends your heroine and hero on their journey), The Bits in the Middle (the journey through obstacles and escalating conflict towards the Resolution), the End (the Resolution of the conflict); remember to show how your characters develop and are tested during their emotional journey towards the resolution

5. Be tight, use strong verbs and cut extra adverbs and adjectives; try to reflect the pace and style/voice of your novel; write in present tense, third person and format your synopsis as per your targeted publisher requirements (or other publishing standards).

ps. more resources on Lou's blog. and there is more on writing the dreaded synopsis by editor-at-large Leslie Wainger at eHarlequin website.


  1. I agree that writing the synopsis can seem harder than the rest of the novel.

  2. Oi. Synopses are evil. I was hysterical this morning when I found out the SYTYCW contest wanted a 5-7 page synopsis, but managed to pound out 8 pages on the first try. lol. Best of luck with yours!!

  3. Patsy: I remember you saying on your blog that writing synopsis 'is a real pig' :)

    Carrie: I'm also worrying how I can get these 5-7 pages (and if I remember well it's single spaced). I've hardly got 2 pages and I'm past half of the novel!
    best of luck to you too