Monday, March 7, 2011

Cooking the Perfect Synopsis

So, I've been working on my synopsis for my middle grade novel, which means I've scoured sources for suggestions, formats and instruction on getting it right. 

Why? Three reasons: 
1- It's a vital marketing tool, next to the Query.
2- If it isn't right you may have a flaw in your story. 
3- At some point someone is going to request one.

I've coalesced what I've researched into a basic recipe. 
Rockin' Synopsis
Preheat: Present Tense
Serves: Agents, Publishers anyone looking 

1 cup Voice               [Gives a taste of your unique voice.] 
1/3 cup   Who       [Main characters: What do they want?]
1/3 cup   Why       [Why should we care?]
1/3 cup   How       [How is he/she going to get it?]
1/2 cup   What      [What goes wrong, who/what gets in the way?]
1/2  cup  Risk            [What is he/she risk? No risk, no story.]
1/2 cup  Reward    [Do he/she get what they want or version of it?]

Mix well trimming extra words, unnecessary phrases until you have a succinct mix. Set aside for several days. With fresh eyes, revise again perfecting every sentence until you have the exact flavor you want. Then share it with several  CP's or Beta's to see if they see what you see, feel what you want them to feel. If not, revise again. Repeat this until the synopsis has risen to the desired level. 

I found several excellent suggestions for how to obtain the perfect ingredients and boiling them down to the exact proportions. Here are a few links you may find helpful!

How to Write A Synopsis
How to Write A Book Synopsis: Tips, Techniques
Writing A Synopsis
Writing a Synopsis That Rocks

I know there are tons more out there! Do you have a post on your blog? Share a link in your comments! 

*Check in next Monday for Middle School Review of Savvy and Scumble by Ingrid Law


  1. This is such a great resource! Thanks for putting it together. Personally, synopses feel like sticking needles under my nails. AND I'm really bad at writing them, so any help I can get is a good thing.

    Nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. I know I'm going to have to do it sooner or later, but I must admit I haven't been looking forward to the synopsis much at all! Thanks for the links--I've bookmarked, and I'll use them when it's my turn.

  3. Pam,
    First of all, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving kind words. Second, this is awesome! I'm in the whole querying stage now and I know this synopsis post is going to be very useful. Have you heard of Pam McCutcheon's Writing the Fiction Synopsis? It's the only book I've found that focuses solely on how to write a synopsis and it's so helpful!

  4. @Lydia K I totally agree with the needles bit. I really had to force myself to do it.

    @Amie Kaufman I really want to have my blog be as useful as so many great ones I have found, including yours!

    @nutshell Thanks for the book recommendation. I think that is what belonging to the writing community is all about. Thanks!

  5. Great resources, thank you! I'm about to write my first synopsis and I'm so nervous that I just haven't made myself sit down and try it. I read something that said to make it a short story version of your novel, that it needs to have all those components you listed and be compelling.

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!


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