Tips on writing a synopsis

Somehow over the years I have developed an inherent dislike of writing a synopsis. Recently I completed a new manuscript and I always make it a rule to write a 1000 word synopsis soon after. Even though my critique partner hasn't finished working through it, I like to write my synopsis while it's still fresh in my mind.

Luckily enough I have been able to find some helpful hints on making the job easy, because it doesn't matter how many contests you enter, or submissions you make, they will all ask for some length of a synopsis.

I find they can range from a 1000 word, to a one page synopsis, or even a 300 word version. Hence the reason for wanting to tear my hair out. Here I am, just finished a 80000 and something story and I'm required to tell you what it's all about in a single page?

Some hints to make the job easier.

1. Start by introducing your main characters. Usually a story will have a heroine and hero. Use a different paragraph for each one and always use capital letters the first time you use their name.

2. Use one POV per paragraph.

3. Use present tense.

4. In a synopsis you are allowed to tell, rather than show.

5.When introducing  your main characters in the first two paragraphs, tell us who they are. The heroin might be a brilliant musician struggling as a single mum. The hero might be a wealthy billionaire wanting to escape the family empire he knows will soon become his responsibility.

This paragraph for each of them has to tell the reader what it is they want. If you follow the framework of the GMC then you have a clear notion of what their goals and motivation are. That is, what they want and why.

Also in this paragraph, tell us what brings them together. Hopefully, when you describe what brings them together, the conflict will be obvious.  Remember leave all backstory out of it.

By now you've written your story and all conflicts have been resolved. But there would have been different goals for the hero and heroine which should have created conflict. Remember, without conflict you have not story.

In my most recent story, I have twin brothers separated during the war, but not before they bury family jewels with the intention of returning to claim them after the war. Seventy years later, the grandson of one twin and a non-blood relative granddaughter of the other twin find themselves a world away from where they live in search of the jewels that both were separately asked to find by each twin after their death. The heroine's purpose in finding the jewels is to give her aging grandmother a better quality of life. The hero's purpose in finding the jewels, is firstly he promised his grandfather he would find them, and secondly he will use the money from their sale to escape the clutches of his over-bearing father and escape the family's financial empire and start afresh on his own.

So the situation that brings them together is the jewels. Each has their own reason for wanting them, thus creating the conflict.

Who they are, what they want and what brings them together should all happen in this first paragraph for each of them.

6. Writing the main part of your synopsis requires that you pin point main events that cause emotional changes. You will know you're story best. Emotional events will lead to a black moment, which is an event in it self.  There's a good chance just before the black moment, that the high point was reached in their romance. They may not have their conflicts resolved yet, but they cannot hold back the chemistry, which is why the black moment shatters everything for them until a resolution can be reached.

So the middle of the synopsis will list the main emotional events

7.  After the black moment a resolution needs to be reached. You will need to tell us by pin pointing the main turning points that lead to their resolution and tell us how their conflicts are resolved. As the black moment is the part of the story where the character's are at their lowest, then the conflicts at that point need to be resolved. Don't bring up earlier conflicts that have already been sorted out.

8.  A final word, don't hint at what happens in the end. Be specific. The purpose of a synopsis is for the reader (editor, publisher) to know what happens .

Good Luck

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