Writing a Synopsis

When talking to writers about writing a synopsis one of the first question I am usually asked is, ‘how long should it be?’ The answer to this is, how long is your novel? The important thing to remember is it should be relatively short and succinct. Some writers manage this in less than 10 pages, others ramble.

What you should remember, is:

• A badly written synopsis is like telegraphing to a prospective editor, agent, publisher that you have no idea how to write. It needs to be well-written and positive.

• Your synopsis should highlight the salient points of the story arc, character’s growth, and the scenes that move the story forward.

• When I say salient points, I mean things like character ‘conflict’, ‘challenges’ and ‘resolution’. How did they get into that mess to begin with, how do they solve their problems, meet their challenges, over come their obstacles? And what are the consequences, if any? Followed by a resolution.

• Do not give a blow-blow dry account of each chapter, rather your synopsis should read like you are retelling the story, verbally, for a listening audience. Make it zing!

• When writing genre, make sure you convey to the editor/agent you know your stuff, but don’t bore them senseless.

• Remember to show not tell. It’s the same principal for writing your synopsis as it is for writing your novel.

• Also, your voice should be as evident in your synopsis as it is in your novel.

As an aside, remember this: Practice makes perfect. They more practice you have at writing down a synopsis, the better you’ll get at it. That said, however, writing a synopsis (for some) is like catching lightning in a bottle. Practice, and hone your skills.

Good luck!

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

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Writers Write

Fundamentals: knowing the basic building blocks.

If you are a writer, you work to convey a story to readers by way of the words you write. Words are not only your building blocks they are also in and of themselves, mechanisms—mechanisms that trigger images and thoughts in your readers’ minds eye. It is through a writer’s words that readers acquire the story and, depending on how well those words (those all essential building blocks) are strung together, depends on how well a reader imagines the story and thereby, get immersed into its characters and landscape. And yes, I know, before you so amiably point out, it also depends a lot on the reader’s imagination. True. But that, as they say, is a whole other post to contemplate.

It is critical for all writers to understand vocabulary as well as they do grammar and structure. It is not enough to think you know how language works; you need to fully realize its colour, nuances, flavour and beat, and be able to capture the essence, repeatedly, in every sentence that you write. If you don’t understand how to build with your words, you are not effectively communicating your story to your readers.

All language, whether written or oral, has structure. As a writer you need to have a good grasp of that structure, never mind your tools—language, grammar, vocabulary—in order to bring your stories to life and give them depth, background, believable characters and more, a heartbeat.

Alexandra Wolfe

Alexandra is the founder, owner, and publishing editor of the Kissed By Venus web site and magazine.

Website - Twitter - Facebook - More Posts

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