the heartbreak of writing a synopsis

A while ago, I wrote a post about the process of writing a synopsis. I’m in the middle of synopsis-itis. I’ve just completed a long synopsis of a book, and was asked to look at someone else’s short synopsis. And that brought back some uncomfortable memories.

Before I say anything else, I make this recommendation:

If you are writing your first novel, or the first novel you plan to market, make sure you don’t leave writing a synopsis to the very end, something to do the day before you send off the query.

Because writing a synopsis may well be the most heart-breaking thing you do. You struggle for days, and when you show your efforts to others, only the most the intrepid readers will comment that the whole thing doesn’t make any sense at all. Or that they can’t see a plot.

And you know, the heartbreaking thing is, that if you’ve struggled to write this thing, not because synopses are hard to write (which they are), but because there IS no coherent plot. Or the plot is way too complicated, or plot threads are not complete, and character arcs unsatisfactory. And the trouble your readers have with the synopsis is not because the synopsis is flawed, but because the BOOK is.

So grab that synopsis-thing by the horns and use it as a tool to streamline, simplify and focus you plot. Do it. Save yourself the heartbreak.

5 comments on “the heartbreak of writing a synopsis

  1. You know, I’m writing my first novel and I had glanced at the steps to writing a synopsis and, well, I’m sorta scared of it! Reason being, my book’s all over the place and I’m not sure what will result from analyzing it, once I feel it’s ready to be analyzed.

  2. I discovered the truth in that only recently, writing a synopsis for a well worked out plot. How easy it was, compared to other synopses for stories that proved themselves to be still in a mess.

  3. Pingback: My three month plan (from draft to agent submission) – Scribbles and Dreams

  4. Interestingly, I couldn’t write the synopsis until I got the plot worked out… and the fact I have been able to write one now is what has given me a lot more confidence in the idea that I might have finally cracked it!


    M T McGuire

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