The Dreaded Synopsis: Does writing one make you concerned for your book?

Created 11 months ago by Kaytalin Platt with 6 comments
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Ajsmall Alistair James · Author · added 11 months ago
I think that sounds like a happy medium.  Seems to me there’s a limit to planning - past which things can become stale.  Good to keep some room for improvisation and at least a few little surprises.  Are things more fun that way?  Maybe, guess it depends on the person.
13754503 10154253591838162 3039736012072528628 n Kaytalin Platt · Author · edited 11 months ago · 1 like
I recently started the synopsis first approach for helping me lay out what should happen in what chapter. It is really nice, and I think I’m going to carry that forward. I’m normally a pantser. I’ve read every book on novel plotting and being a planner, but I can’t seem to conform to graphs and pacing charts, but the synopsis approach is a lot like pantsing, but... planning ahead. I like it. 
Ajsmall Alistair James · Author · edited 11 months ago · 2 likes
For me at least, I’ve found that writing the synopsis before I start the story really helps.  Over time it will change slightly, but it helps to keep the story on track.  (I guess I am a "planner" instead of a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of writer)  I like to start by cramming the story into a single sentence - then from a sentence into one short paragraph, then expanding each sentence into its own paragraph.  Pretty structured I guess.  But it’s definitely hard to cut out all the good stuff :)
Self G. R. Paskoff · Author · edited 11 months ago · 1 like

I hate synopsis writing! But it is the second most important part of a book, after the cover. I have read good books with bad synopses, but many times I’ll put a book down if the summary doesn’t grab me.

Writing a synopsis is torture for me, too, because it makes me feel like a car salesman (sorry if I am knocking any car salesmen out there!). But it really is the first glimpse of your work a potential reader will get. Then there is the book-jacket synopsis versus the Inkshares synopsis. These can (and often are) written in a completely different tone and voice.

I approach the synopsis the same way I approach my writing: get it all out, then edit judiciously. Before I am done, I will usually have different length versions - a half page (book jacket version), a one page, and sometimes a two to three page version.

In general, stick to your most critical plot points - the details are meant to be in the story, not the summary (What’s the problem? And what’s the consequence if that problem doesn’t get resolved?). Don’t introduce multiple characters (more than three) unless they are super important to your plot points. And (I am guilty of this one), don’t end your summary in a question.

Hope that helps take some of the pain away.

18278952 10105531439962004 7699412381249820269 o Evan Graham · Author · edited 11 months ago · 1 like
I hate writing synopses. It never feels like you’re quite doing your story justice when you have to trim out most of what’s in it just to fit a reasonable length. It’s hard to decide what is and isn’t important enough to include, since you know it’s all important or it wouldn’t be there at all.
It’s a hard balance, but I think it’s also a good exercise to prepare you for making revisions. Sometimes when you start evaluating the story as a whole and trying to condense it into the smallest narrative possible, you start to realize there is stuff you can really afford to cut that you thought you couldn’t afford to lose.
13754503 10154253591838162 3039736012072528628 n Kaytalin Platt · Author · edited 11 months ago · 1 like
I’ve been getting things ready to submit the manuscript to Inkshares and, as usual, I’m stuck on the synopsis. Taking a 300+ page book and cramming it into a page can be maddening. 

Does anyone else ever get to a point while writing their synopsis where they begin to wonder whether the book is crap? Perhaps is the pressure of trying to make the synopsis short, but also convey the interesting plot points. I feel like I can’t seem to cram all the complex plot points in and keep it concise. While writing it, I realize I’ve left out important tidbits of information. Then, again, I wonder if they are really important or just important to me. 

So, I’m interested in other perspectives on synopsis writing and how it affects the way you view your work. Also, what are your methods for synopsis writing? Has anyone found a way to keep it from being torture?