On Writing a Synopsis

It’s Wednesday – marketing day!  When you start sending query letters out to agents and publishers, you’ll find that you need to write at least one version of a synopsis to include either in the query itself, or as a follow-up to your introductory letter, if you’ve peaked anyone’s interest.

First off, I’ll explain why I wrote three versions of my synopsis.  I have one version (I call it the “blurb version”) that’s a one-paragraph summary of the setup, much like the “blurb” on the back of a book you’d read to decide if you want to buy it.  That’s what I put in the query letter itself, to (hopefully) catch the agent’s interest.  Then I have a full, straight-up point-for-point synopsis that summarizes the entire book and its ending, which I wrote mainly for reference, to keep myself straight on what order things happened in when I was writing my third synopsis.  The third synopsis is the one I give to agents who ask me for one – it’s in the style of the book itself, to give a taste of the voice, tone, and character of the novel.

What surprised me about writing the “blurb” synopsis was that I didn’t find it particularly difficult.  I expected it to be agony.  Instead, it was kind of fun and it flowed easily for me.  Yes, I chose my words carefully and considered the gravity of this being, most likely, my one and only paragraph with which to hook an agent, but it really didn’t seem that hard to write.  On reflection, I realized that my time working as a supervisor in a bookstore had served me well in this endeavor.

See, we used to write up a certain number of staff recommendations every week, with a little summary of what the book/movie/album we had picked was all about and why it was good.  I loved writing those summaries because it gave me a chance to share a little of my passion for good stories with anybody who took the time to read my recommendations – plus, it gave me a rare opportunity to work at my desk, but that’s beside the point.  Anyway, I think it stood me in good stead to write those blurbs for other people’s books.  It was great practise at making the most of a limited space in which to show and generate enthusiasm for a particular story.

So, although it’s Marketing Wednesday and not Exercise Friday, I give you Marketing Exercise Wednesday, and recommend that you practise writing exciting blurbs for your favorite books every now and then, as a warm-up to writing a synopsis for your very own novel.  It’s been a good tool for me!

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One thought on “On Writing a Synopsis

  1. Pingback: MARIAN ALLEN · Friday Recommends

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