8 points to consider when writing your synopsis


As I regrettably procrastinate over writing my novel synopsis, cherished writing time slips through fingers that ought to be on the keyboard. There simply isn’t time for procrastination, either. This summer ought to be my most incisive lesson on focus; with my children’s wildly varied summer schedule requiring me, your humble fiction writer must perform duties of activities director and chauffeur. The time I can grasp for myself–for my book- are precious indeed.

Tomorrow evening is the Pen On Fire event, and I am very excited indeed! (Thank you so much to everyone who helped critique chapter One.) While it will be a casual meet-and-greet with literary agents, I don’t want to be caught empty-handed under any circumstance.

So, I am completing a one-page synopsis of my story. The beauty of this task lies in my synopsis’ multi-use value; For as important as it is for me to clearly express a persuasive outline of my story, it will be both motivating and clarifying to revisit it throughout the writing process, checking to see that I am on the correct track, focused (there’s that word again) and remaining true to my vision.

I found Chuck Sambuchino’s excellent blog “Guide to Literary Agents” and his easy-to-understand advice for writing a synopsis. Here are eight pieces of Chuck’s useful advice with helpful links.

1. A synopsis can sell your story. Agent Caren Estesen discusses why you need a good summary.

2. The advice “show, don’t tell,” doesn’t apply to a synopsis. Author Diana Peterfreund explains why.

3. Here’s how to write one. Agent Nathan Bransford shares his guidelines on writing the synopsis.

4. Ask yourself five questions. Writer Beth Anderson asks five questions in order to write a tight synopsis. Find out what they are.

5. Keep it simple. Romance novelist Brenda Coulter suggests dropping the pretense and just tell your story.

6. A writer answers common questions. Writer Sally Hanan answers commonly asked questions about the synopsis.

7. Grab readers, even with a synopsis. Romance Author Meredith Bond believes you have to “grab them by their eyeballs and don’t let go” and that’s just the first paragraph.

8. See examples of fiction synopses. On this very GLA blog, you can see many posts related to synopsis writing – including several actual examples of synopses in all genres.

Hungry for more? Check out Crafting the Perfect Outline Identifying 5 Major Plotpoints

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