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Stephen B. Pearl


Writing a Synopsis

     Here is a summary of the points and suggestions that were made at the panel I was on about writing synopsis. It is frequently difficult to write them.

     A synopsis is an important part of the submission package you will use to sell your novel. But what is a synopsis and how is it developed and polished? Is there an ideal length? How much detail should it include? Panellists discuss common problems and errors. (Erik Buchanan, Michael Martineck(M), Stephen B Pearl, Karl Schroeder, with additional points from Draumr Publishing.

  1. Take a sentence from each chapter as a key and use these to build the flow.
  2. There is a big difference between a synopses to sell a finished book and a synopses to sell a book on spec.
  3. If you have trouble, work out the tag words you'd use for the book on Amazon and the like as your start point.
  4. Avoid "ly" words. (Adjectives and adverbs) especially suddenly, very and finally.
  5. In writing, in general, look for and avoid superfluous characters. If you can combine two or more minor characters in to one do it.
  6. If you are selling on speck, don't feel overly bound by the synopsis.
  7. For blurbs look to the film industry for good examples.
  8. As always, write to the publishers stated preferences.
  9. Don't get cute. This is a professional document so be professional.
  10. Synopses don't have to be boring.
  11. If you are stuck, just write the thing, then edit. Write a synopsis and don't worry about the length. Then write a synopsis of your synopsis and repeat until you have the length and quality you need.
  12. Find your main theme and stick with that.
  13. Don't go into why your characters do things, it is enough to say they do them.
  14. Give an overall description of the book not a retelling.
  15. Cover the entire story including the end.

Copyright © 2009, Stephen B. Pearl
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