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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Yes, I actually do know the plural for synopsis, it's just that I thought that title was funnier.

Anyway, wanted to whine about writing synopses for awhile. I've got synopses on the brain at the moment since I just did a conference call with Susan Mallery and Chris Rimmer, to plot my next book for NAL. Got a lot of great stuff, but now I actually have to write the damn thing!

I don't know a single writer who enjoys this part of the whole book process. It's impossible to get down all the nuances of character and story arc and plot in a ten page synopsis.

And yet, it's something that can't be avoided. Thankfully, editors always insist that they don't buy or reject on the strength of synopsis writing (since they know none of us shine at that), but they do need to see it. They need to know that we've got a beginning, middle and an end. They want to know that we've got a road map to guide us on the way to finishing the book.

Still, for your own sake, you have to try to make that synopsis as fluid and compelling as possible.

The best way to do it, (Just my opinion by the way), is to write the synopsis as if you're telling a friend what your book's about. That way you hit all the high notes and leave out the insignifigant details. Yes, the details will be important when you're writing the book, but in the synopsis, we don't need to see snatches of dialogue or know what the heroine's wearing or what kind of car the hero drives.

So keep it simple and smooth. I suggest doing one paragraph on the heroine, then the next on the hero. Then you flow with the story arc, showing the editor the growth of each character. And looking at the storyline through the two very different viewpoints can give you some ideas for when you're actually writing the book. Always useful.

Oh, and most importantly, always tie up all loose ends in the synopsis. Never ever write a synopsis ending by saying, 'if you want to know how the book ends, I'd be happy to send you the manuscript'. The editor will not be amused.


  • At 8:11 AM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    The plural of synopsis never looks right to me and therefore, I avoid it :-)

    Synopsis writing is torture, but your advice, Maureen, should ease the pain some!

  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said…

    Thanks, Jen........Lordy, I LOATHE writing synopsi!!

  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said…

    We did come up with some great stuff--and of course, left you to do all the work. LOL

    I do like the "telling it to a friend" idea. Great one...

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said…

    Thanks for the advice. I've got to start mine today, and you make it sound so simple and I know it is, I really do...but the thought of sitting down and doing it...I think I should take a nap first. *g*


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