This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Caroline Hogg has worked in publishing for almost ten years. She is Senior Commissioning Editor for Commercial Women's Fiction at Pan Macmillan.
This week a Novelicious reader asked:
Writing a synopsis is notoriously difficult and I find it more terrifying than writing an 80,000 word novel. What are your top tips for creating the dreaded synopsis?
Caroline says: I’m personally not a fan of a very very detailed synopsis, though I know that some agencies and publishers do ask for them. I would personally always prefer to see a one-page synopsis (on A4, double spaced) that gives me the main thrust of the plot, without every single twist and turn explained. The purpose of a synopsis, from my point of view, is to show me what’s special and unique about the story, what kind of arc the characters go through and whether there’ll be a satisfying ending. I usually turn to the synopsis after I’ve read a chunk of the book and have enjoyed it. The synopsis should make me want to read on at that point. If it’s too dense or elaborate the effect might be overwhelming. Having said that, reading a synopsis where the author is vague about the ending, or leaves it off altogether, is very frustrating! A good thing to remember is that agents and editors have lots to read and not much time to read it in, so give them ‘the headlines’ in your synopsis – the main plot developments you want them to remember and that you think will hook them in. Make the synopsis as punchy as possible – approach it as if you were writing the blurb for the back of your book, so it ‘sells’ the novel as much as possible.