Synopsis (Part 2):Style

Here is part II of my synopsis study. Look back for the blog on content of the synopsis.

Now that you know what to put in the synopsis, we now come to the problem of how to write it. Here a few things to think about before starting the synopsis.

Tense—our books are written in past tense, more than likely. However, the synopsis (like the blurb) should be written in present tense. It gives it more immediacy and excitement—like a sale’s pitch.

Viewpoint—it doesn’t matter if the novel is written in 1st or 3rd point of view. The synopsis is the Author’s summary. Use the author-as-narrator viewpoint. This is something we avoid when writing our books but is necessary when putting together the synopsis.

Nouns and Verbs—Make your nouns concrete and your verbs vivid. Not unlike in your novel—but even more so. Get rid of to-be verbs (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been) and limit passive verbs. Give the synopsis a sense of action, excitement, and movement.

Length—a paragraph or two synopsis within a query is adequate. Only one to two pages when included with the query (single spaced with double spaces between paragraphs). If a synopsis is requested with a partial or full manuscript, then the standard length is five pages (double spaced). This is the length sent by agents to acquiring editors. Boil the story down to its essence.

Story Chronology—time can be complex when explaining your novel in a synopsis. Backstory and such. No need to capture the shifts in time exactly as they occur in the novel. Use turning points to show the chronology.

Variations—adjust the standard style of the synopsis writing to fit your unique story and style. There are a couple extreme variations that can be utilized when incorporated skillfully.

Short Summary when followed by a longer summary—this is for the longer synopsis—usually five or more pages. The short summary is like the hook or blurb. It starts with a one line hook—like a tv guide description.

Narrative Hook—using the tense and pov of your book. It isn’t the actual opening of your

book. It is used to entice agents or editors to read your book. After the opening narrative hook, you go into summary synopsis format.

Short story hook—this is a variation of high risk. The first several pages of the synopsis read like a short story. For example it could be written in 3rd person, past tense, and include dialogue. The last page shifts to synopsis summary.

*Most of the information I’ve put together on writing the synopsis comes from The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit by Elizabeth Lyon. It’s a great resource and I recommended it highly.


Mary Ricksen said...

I love a blog that teaches me something! Thanks Cindy.

Cindy K. Green said...

Thanks for stopping by Mary. :)