How-To Write a Synopsis
Rebecca Sinclair

Picture your plot, as well as your synopsis, in graph form. There should be peaks and valleys, where tension and plot rise then fall, with each peak being bigger than the last. The last peak should always be "the black moment"--when all the protagonist has been striving for in the book is in jeopardy.

One of the more simple tricks I've learned to writing a good synopsis is to keep a notebook next to the computer while writing the rough draft. This serves a dual purpose. First, I can jot down any story threads I want to carry through to other parts of the manuscript (you'd be surprised how fast you can forget them when the momentum of the first draft hits), but more importantly the notebook refreshes my memory and gives me a reference to use as a guide when it comes time to write the book's synopsis.

Look at the notebook BEFORE you write the synopsis. Locate and note the high points in your story. These are the points you'll want most to cover in the synopsis. Between these points you'll need details on how the protagonist(s) GET to those peaks in the manuscript.

The synopsis should be written in omniscient point of view. Editors prefer the prose go into the manuscript, NOT the synopsis. Use the synopsis as a tool to tell the editor exactly what the book is about and how it progresses logically from Point A (Chapter 1) to Point B (The End). Never, never, NEVER leave questions unanswered. Don't tease the editor and leave him/her guessing as to Who Dunnit, or how the internal/external conflict, plot, subplot(s), etc. are resolved. You can keep your readers in suspense, but keeping an editor in suspense is a sure way for him/her to make good use of your SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to send your manuscript whizzing back to you, rejected.

Writing a good synopsis is like anything else. You need to practice, practice, practice. Whenever possible get an objective opinion. Better revision suggestions come from a friend than an editor.

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1995 Rebecca Sinclair