1. WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN A SYNOPSIS?
You only need four things in your synopsis: your working title, the genre of the book, the word count and your extended pitch.
The genre should merely be several words, using a publisher’s language, i.e. rural romance, modern women’s fiction, historical fiction. If you’re not sure precisely how to describe your genre, go to a few publishers’ websites and then look up titles within your type of heading. In the description on the site for each of the books, there will be a statement of the genre.
2. WHAT IS AN EXTENDED PITCH?
It’s a review of the story. It’s commonly around 200-300 words. Bear in mind; your synopsis shouldn’t be more than a page.
The key here is the word “story”. A synopsis isn’t a summary of the themes of the novel; a publisher should be able to work that out if you’ve explained the story well enough. People don’t read for topics; they understand the story. Your plot is what will catch the attention of the publisher. A synopsis shouldn’t tell the publisher how to read the book either. It’s just about the story.
3. SO HOW DO I REVIEW THE STORY IN 200-300 WORDS?
Good question! Apparently, you will have to leave a lot out. That’s the point that most people find the hardest to do. You want to concentrate on the main plot and maybe one or two subplots.
4. THE SIX SENTENCE METHOD
I find the six-sentence method helpful. Try to review your story in six sentences, then expand a little on those six phrases in the synopsis.
The six sentences that should be in focus are:
* what life is like for my protagonist character at the beginning of the novel
* what is the characteristic that sets the protagonist off on their journey and that is the inciting incident, described compellingly
* what is the mission or the intention of your character and why is it so necessary to them
* what is a couple of obstructions that get in their way
* what is the most significant barrier of all (doesn’t need to be fully described if it gives away too far, but the drama needs a hint)
* end with a question/hook
Then, in my synopsis, my first two paragraphs will be about points 1-3 above. The next two articles will tackle a couple of the obstacles. The final section will be the significant obstacle, and the question/hook.