The Joy of Synopses


Well, I’m being a little sarcastic, in case you hadn’t guessed. It’s no secret how much I love to write, but there are some things I enjoy writing far less than others. One of those things is the dreaded author bio – it’s such a fine line between sounding interesting and sounding like a tosser (and to be honest, not sure which side I’m currently on) πŸ˜€

The other is the synopsis. Right, I muttered, as I slogged and sweated my way through the very first one I ever wrote, I bet Tolkien wasn’t asked to distill Lord Of The Rings down to a single page summary.

Well, I bet he probably was, actually. And I’m no Tolkien. I’m just a writer with a book I need to send out to agents and publishers, and part of that process involves writing a synopsis.

I remember hearing an agent saying once that a synopsis was simply a blow-by-blow account of everything that happens in the book. All the main plot points and character, distilled into This happens. And then this happens. And then that happens. Sounds pretty easy, when you put it like that. But the actual writing of it is something I find quite arduous, trying to choose which events to include and which ones to omit.


So when Sacha Black posted a few weeks back about a book she’d read called ‘Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide,’ by Nicola Morgan, I decided to check it out. And it was well worth doing so. Not only was I able to distill my story down to a 26-word pitch, perfect for the covering letter, I was then able to expand that pitch into a synopsis that fitted onto one page. The book was an easy read as well – short, well written and engaging.Β  So I would definitely recommend it to anyone caught in the snarls of their synopsis, as it definitely helped me.

I still sweated and slogged a little, but not nearly as much as before πŸ™‚

18 thoughts on “The Joy of Synopses

  1. I equally enjoy the act of distilling 80-100K words full of sweat, depth, and intention down to a one-page play by play that can just as easily be folded into a paper airplane and sent into a trash can. Glad to hear I am not the only one. I may have to check that guide out. That is, I will after I read at least, one of your books.

    • Oh, it’s an awful thing to ask a writer to do, isn’t it? It’s like *wails* ‘But EVERY scene is important!’ However, I did find the book really helpful, so I would definitely recommend checking it out. And thanks – I have to read at least one of your books as well! πŸ™‚

      • I’d consider exchanging stories with other writers and write their blurbs or synopsis for them as a neutral third party, except I know that if I enjoyed their work, I would run on just as much retelling their details as I do mine (if not more).

      • Yes. I do wonder if it would be easier to do that though, as you wouldn’t be as close to the story as they were. Maybe we need to start some sort of swap program!

    • Oh, that is so true! I considered calling my post ‘The Demon Synopsis’, because that’s just how it makes me feel too. And poor you, having to write two different synopses – I have a feeling this is going to happen to me as well in the near future. Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. And I definitely recommend Nicola’s book, it really helped me πŸ™‚

  2. Pingback: The Hurdles I’m Jumping Along the Way | S.K. Nicholls

  3. Well done, Helen. Thats a chore I have yet to face, but know I can’t avoid it much longer. I got the book too after reading Sacha’s post. I feel very confident at giving it a go now that two people I know and trust have found it helpful. Still not looking forward to it though… there will be much gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair and drinking of wine before I’m done, I suspect! 😁

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