Live, Love, Create!

Ep 7 Writing The Dreaded Novel Synopsis

August 19, 2021 Stephanie Bourbon Episode 7
Live, Love, Create!
Ep 7 Writing The Dreaded Novel Synopsis
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I talk about writing a synopsis for pitching your novel to agents & publishing.
 
What makes it so hard and how you can write one once you understand what it's meant to do.

Why they are needed?

Agents want to know and understand what your story is from beginning to end.
They can also realize plotholes and issues in your manuscript.

It's not easy to write them.
The main reason that writers can't do this is that they are too much in their own heads and don't understand why it's needed.

Please don't confuse your synopsis with your query letter pitch/book blurb.

The best way to write your synopsis is knowing your story's big narrative arcs.
Most synopses are between 1-2 pages, but make sure you check the agent's submission policy.

Once you know your story arcs and have them down, your book is finished through revisions you can write a strong synopsis.

Story arcs/plot
Character arcs

BEGINNING
INCITING INCIDENT
NEW WORLD
MIDDLE
CRISIS
ALL IS LOST
CLIMAX
RESOLUTION

In your synopsis be clear and concise.
Don't put in too many characters.

A huge mistake that many writers make is to add too many details.
 
Even though you are using your story arcs as an outline to write your synopsis please don't ever break up the synopsis. It needs to read straight through and flow nicely.


 
Here is also a great example of a short synopsis of LES MISERABLES 

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/lesmis/summary/

Please click on the link below to learn more about writing them.

Here is the link to Jane Freidman who I mention in the episode
https://www.janefriedman.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis/

As well, here is the link to my writing query letters PDF
https://stephanie-bourbon.newzenler.com/crushing-your-query

Please join my FREE FB group for female writers The Female Writers Society HERE

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https://www.stephaniebourbon.com/



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0:00  
Hey, this is Stephanie Bourbon, and welcome back to the love, love create podcast. I'm super excited that you are here. This week, I'm going to talk about the dreaded synopsis. Why you need it, why it's important, and why they are so hard to write. I'm Stephanie Bourbon. And this is the live love creative podcast for female writers with a focus on fiction, screenwriting and television writing come back every week for new episodes.

0:49  
Welcome back to the podcast. Today, like I said, I'm going to talk about synopsis and why you need them the reason that you need them, it's because an agent or a publisher sometimes wants to see what your story is about from beginning to end. It's not possible for every agent to read your book, from the beginning to the end, I know that you love your book, and you've spent time working on it. And as Brian, it's super close to you, but understand agents and publishers are in this every single day. And they're reading tons of books. So sometimes they just want to get an overview. The other reason is, sometimes, an agent or a publisher can actually realize some big plot holes and some issues that could potentially be happening in your story when they get your synopsis. Many times however, it is because the writer doesn't actually know how to write a synopsis, it is hard, I will tell you that it's not easy. There are many reasons why these are hard to write, I find that the main reason that writers can't do it is that they're too much in their head. They're thinking too much about it, and they're putting too much stress on it. And they don't understand actually why it's needed. Once you understand why it's needed and how to do it, it'll become a lot easier for you, it's really important that you don't confuse your synopsis with your query letter pitch or the marketing back description that is on your book. Like when you go into Barnes and Noble or you see on the Amazon description, you're not trying to sell the book in the synopsis, you are trying to convey the narrative arc in your story. It's the story arc, and it's the character arc it is what happens in the story from beginning to end. And the best way that I find to write a synopsis, it goes like this, you need to understand your stories, big narrative arcs, somewhere between five and seven. Honestly, I believe that there's a few of them that you can put into one paragraph for the synopsis most synopsis that are requested are between one and two pages max now there is a long format synopsis that you might need. But for the purpose of querying for the most part, they want short synopsis, it's simply because they just don't have time to read the super long drawn out things, they really just want to know the overall arc of your story, the characters, etc. So once you know your story arcs, which you should know because you've finished the book, you've revised it, potentially you've worked with a book coach like me, or developmental editor, I also do that and or you have worked with the line editor gone to workshops, etc, etc. So your book is finished, you should know your story arcs. And they should go something like this beginning which is your introduction to the character, the inciting incident, which is what launches your story forward, the new world or new reality, which is the character in the new story, whatever that is, the middle which is going to be your mirror moment or your recommitment scene, then you are going to have a crisis, you're going to have an all is lost moment, the climax, and then the resolution and the end. That is the arc of your story. 99% of all stories, follow that story arc and yours should too unless you are super famous and you can get away with whatever you want. And then you're probably not listening to this podcast to understand how to write a synopsis. So you want to make sure that you hit all these points in the synopsis in a very concise, clear way. Which means don't talk about the characters dog unless the story is about a dog like Marley and may or a dog's journey or something. Don't talk about the characters dog. Don't mention every character that they're in connection with at the beginning of the story unless it's important to the story. You want to talk about the main protagonists and her journey in the story. So that's a huge mistake that I see many writers make where they just put in way too much.

4:55  
They're thinking about the details and they're putting in way too much They're not thinking about the overarching story. And that is why many synopsis fail, I have read synopsis where three pages in, they are still not into the inciting incident. It's almost like they're rewriting the book. Please don't make that mistake. And even though you're thinking about your synopsis in the story, arc, overall arc of your story, don't make the mistake. To break it into sections, you want to make sure that the synopsis starts and ends without any breaks, you want it to have no subheadings, you want it to just be a one page. This is what happens in the story. And it's not as hard as it seems. Once again, once you know your story arcs, you should be able to succinctly put it into one page, what I recommend doing, if you're brand new to this, if you haven't written the last synopsis you haven't been successful is literally take each big story arc and write just one or two sentences of what happens. And then write one or two sentences of how that made the character feel. This is something that also you can do for the entire book for every chapter. But for the purpose of the synopsis. Do it with your main story beats, and then you will read it and you will see that you have something that shows all the way from the beginning to the end. Another great way to learn how to write them is to literally Google your favorite books or movies, I think books are better if you're writing novels, Google them and write book summary and see if there's a one page synopsis that you can follow. Recently, I found an amazing one page summary of the novel lame as Rob, which I believe the original unedited version is like 1700 words, it's a very, very long book, and it spans the life of john Val john, from him being in prison. I actually think the book might start when he steals a loaf of bread, I actually can't remember I haven't read it since high school. But it basically starts at the beginning of the story is when he's being let go from prison and everything goes from there, up until the end of his life. So it could cover a lot. Imagine somebody writing a synopsis for that could go on and on and on about all the things that happens in all the people that he meets, but they don't what's important in that story is that he's let out of jail is that he goes back to a life of crime immediately. And then somebody pardons him and let him go. And then he realizes that he made this huge mistake and put this girl's life in jeopardy. So he promises to take care of her daughter, then he confesses that he is actually a criminal that the main police man is looking for or is going to convict somebody else. And then it cuts to you know, quite a few years later. And then he realizes that he has to leave because he he feels like he has to leave because he feels like they've discovered him. And then he realizes that the person who's in love with his daughter, and that his daughter, the woman's child that he has raised is in love with this man who's going off to fight this war and is probably going to die. So then he rescues him. And then there's the end of the story that comes shortly after that there's main story beats and that's all you really need to write. Now you have to be very clear, I want you to look up how to write synopsis and I want you to try to do it on your own. I recommend Jane Freedman calm in the show notes is a link to her how to write a synopsis it is honestly the best thing that I have found online. And it makes the most sense. So I always send my client to her when we're working together. So they can read it first and understand pitfalls. They can understand mistakes that writers make. And she's very clear and intentional on how to do it. Now I'm going to finish this up and just say that oftentimes I see writers and social media groups arguing about this, oh, it needs to be 10 pages, oh, it needs to be 200 words, oh, it needs to be this or that. You really need to look at the agents website, or who you are submitting to not just the agency side, but that agent specific. Every agent is different. I find that writers or I'm sorry, agents on query tracker often want to synopsis that's just the way it is. And there are a lot of those query submission forms and they asked for a synopsis. The synopsis is not the same as the query even though you aren't on a query form like query tracker, please understand your query pitch is something completely different. So please, please, please, when you're researching your agents, and you're making a list of who to submit to make sure you go

9:38  
to their website to their specific page and do exactly what they say they might not even want a synopsis or they might want a 200 word one or they might want a full synopsis which can be eight 910 pages or more. I personally am not a fan of the big synopsis. I like the short ones. I like it to be as short as possible. I just want to know what happens in the story. So I hope this is helpful. If you have questions, you can always email me find me on social media. Everything is in the in the show notes. Thank you for listening. And that's it. Happy writing and good luck writing those synopsis and your query letters. If you are, go to my website, I have a download for how to write query letters that should help you with at least that part of your submission process. Okay, have a great rest of your week. Cheers.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai