The “S” Word: Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

Cue the doleful music.
I’ve been busy writing synopses.

This synopsathon began with an agent request for a full manuscript and synopsis. Of course, I’d never query a book without previously having written a synopsis, so this should have been no problem, right?

Wrong. One glance at said synopsis, and I was hit by revision fever. Before I knew it I was rewriting the whole thing.

And that was fine. The new and improved version is, well, new and improved.

Unfortunately, the next task on my writing agenda was another synopsis, this one for a novela contest entry.

I’ll interject here with an explanation for non-writers, but don’t worry, I’ll make it short and sweet (kind of like a <insert the s-word here>).

Writing a synopsis sucks. Okay, that was a little too short (and not very sweet either). Here’s why writing a synopsis sucks: It requires a writer to distill her 90,000 word book into, oh, say, five pages. Or less. That’s a bit like saying, “Tell me your life story. You’ve got five minutes. Start now.”

That’s why I’m employing a sneaky psychological technique called “avoidance” and writing this blog post instead of finishing the #$%&@ second synopsis.

It would be nice to think this brief descent into synopsis hell will benefit my writing career. Certainly, I’ve read many articles on how to write one.

Does this mean I can give you advice on how to write a brilliant synopsis? Of course not! (Did you not just read the above post? Why would you even want advice from me on this subject? Are you crazy?)

But these people can.

Jane Friedman – Great tips and links to more: Caro Clarke – Breaks the process into stages: Shannon Donnelly – “Writers in the Storm” blog gives a checklist:
Therese Walsh – Quick overview:
DMatriccino – Writer’s Digest guide:
Some examples from Writer’s Digest:

Feel free to leave a comment about how you hate synopses too. If you love them, I don’t want to know.

About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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7 Responses to The “S” Word: Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

  1. IreAnne says:

    I’m with you! I hate them… just read my book 🙂 LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a fan of synopses, but I have made my peace with them. Enjoy your break and then get back to work! 😉


  3. I don’t know anyone who actually *likes* them, but they’re definitely valuable. I’ve made changes to my books based on what I discovered about then while writing my synopsis, and the books were better for it.


  4. Pingback: Do you start stories with a nutgraf? | jean's writing

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