So...why should I bother with a synopsis?
Quick answer: because agents and publishers are more time-poor than ever and they like a bit of shorthand as to what your book is about, who it's for and why they should even bother turning to page one.
In the old days (when life was sunny and fairies danced in the meadows...and editors said 'yes' every morning), I never wrote a synopsis. Now I do. What's more I slave over it every bit as hard as I do my books. I have news for you. The rainclouds are overhead, the fairies have gone back to Tir na n-Og...and children's book editors (and agents) say yes as often as geese lay golden eggs. A professional-looking synopsis is therefore essential.
Aarrgh! Scary! So how do I construct one?
Glad you asked. First of all, get all those romantic wishy-washy writer dreams out of the way--or mostly out of the way for the purposes of this exercise. I know you're the one with the imagination and the ability to write but publishing is a business, so:
- Synopsis Essential Rule #1: Think commercial. That first page is vital. You have to sell your story/novel/series, so make it jump out.
Right. You've done that. Have your USP firmly at the forefront of your mind. Now you're ready to begin.
First, head the page with:
- Book title and a strapline or very short paragraph to seize the editor's attention.
by JRR Tolkien
Wizards, dwarves, trolls, elves, wolves, spiders...and a fiery dragon. How will reluctant thief Bilbo survive his terrifying journey to Smaug's mountain?
Second up on the page is your:
Third up is your:
Fourth up is your:
- Plot Description
S-U-M-M-A-R-Y. You might also want to give brief sketched plot outlines of any sequels or further storyline ideas here. BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE RELEVANT!
Last, but not least:
- Who are you?
Ok. So now you've written your synopsis. What next? Why, the even scarier business of submitting, of course. But that's a 101 for another day. For now just remember the wise words of meercat supremo Aleksandr Orlov:
KEEP IT SIMPLES!
Links to all my other Writing 101 Productions are right HERE on one handy page. Have a browse, why don't you?