Writing A Plot Synopsis – And Learning To Like It

Here’s a great way to write a synopsis for your novel without it becoming a nightmare. You can face this piece of work and it can be fun to do. Your synopsis is not just a summary of your plot, it’s also designed to make an editor read your sample chapters and want to see the rest of it. You’re selling your book with your synopsis, just remember that it’s not what’s going on the back of your book’s cover. This will help you produce a synopsis that sticks to the point, without draining the life out of your story.

Thanks to Paul for all his help with this – this is really his idea.

  1. Complete the following sentance for your novel.
    • [Protagonists] stop [antagonists] from [doing bad stuff] by [doing clever stuff].
    • You might not use this in your synopsis, but it will keep you focused on the type of story you’ve written.
  2. “I loved the bit in this book where ______”
    • Make a list of the events in the plot that people talking at the water cooler will talk about once they’ve read your book.
  3. “I loved this book because I like books where_______”
    1. With ______ in them.
    2. Set in _______.
    3. Which talk about ______.
    4. That make me feel _____.
    5. This is about the themes, issues, feelings, settings, etc – anything great that would interest someone – particularly an editor.
  4. Combine #2 and #3 in sentances in narrative order. This gives you a view of your story and, with some tightening up, you now have your synopsis!

I liked this idea because my first pass at a synopsis was six pages. Way too much. This method kept me focused and caught up in the task, fired up about my story and, importantly, it was really good fun to do. Writing should be something you want to do and without the above method I’d be tearing my hair out.

(Yes I realise my head’s shaved. I didn’t mean it literally.)


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