Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Synful Trio

#1: Someone (you know who you are) asked me if there was a one-size-fits-all-genres synopsis template anywhere on the web. I found a site that offered instructions on how to create your own template using Microsoft Word, which will make and store a blank template formatted for a synopsis (you still have to write it.)

#2: While looking for the template, I found the Vivian Beck Agency, and their excellent page on 5 Steps to Writing a Synopsis. If you get mired down in writing synopses, or don't understand them, definitely check this out.

#3: Although I've not yet found a synopsis-generating software program that doesn't cost an arm and leg, our blog pal Simon Haynes's yWriter freeware can be used to create a synopsis using the summary data entered for each chapter. Another reason to adore Simon: he understands our pain.

I think I got over my serious dread of synopses by following some advice to write one for a novel by one of my favorite authors. Great practice, and no pressure involved.

What's the best synopsis tip you've ever gotten?


  1. Anonymous11:39 PM

    from my agent.

    She told me not to worry about little details, or even some of the bigger ones. She said my editor just wanted to make sure there weren't going to be any surprises, as in, she'd bought a romance and that meant the H+H=HEA deal.

    Knowing that my editor wasn't looking for an in depth summary made it a lot easier to plunk out something.

  2. Excellent! I have to write one by the end of the month, so this is just in time. And I've not written one before.

    Thanks PBW, and the person who asked for it!

  3. Also from my agent... don't be too fancy, or clever or try to incorporate "voice" as that is shown in the sample chapters. A synopsis should read very straight forward and matter-of-fact.

    Now I hate writing synopses. ;-)

  4. There's nothing quite like trying to boil a 116K word novel down to a page. One thing I read somewhere is the idea that you don't need to put each little nuance, and every minor character into a synopsis. The agent or publisher will see all those things in the manuscript, but you have to get them to read the manuscript by sending a snappy synopsis. Keep it short and sweet.

  5. Thanks for the help and the tips! I'm working on a novel now, probably going to approach 100K words, and while the book has lots of twists and surprises, I've wondered how I would write a synopsis for it. I think I've got a better grasp on that now. Thanks so much!

  6. Thanks for the post. This comes at a good time, since my agent is asking for a synopsis and chapters for a book three proposal.

  7. I use a bastardised version of the snowflake method to write anyway, so my synopsis gets written BEFORE the book. I'm going to give Simon's software a try though - I use his reminder programme (RMP) and it's made my life so much more organised, I'm hoping yWriter would do the same with my writing!

  8. Lisa GArdner's synopsis project really clinched it for me. But GAa on the not using voice--my synopsis tend to have that, it's easier for me to write them that way.

  9. I'm just now struggling with my first synopsis and trying to get it down to 5 pages. Then I'll see if I can get it down to one. It's been hard to try to filter it down as far as it needs to be filtered!

    Thanks for the topic!

  10. a fellow writer told me to write it as if I were enthusiastically reviewing the book for RT (with spoilers of course)


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