The Synopsis – Yes, it’s Actually Really Useful

So, in the writing world, there are planners and there are pantsers. The planners have detailed plot outlines, a series bible, character sheets filled to the brim. Pantsers just write and find the beauty in the messy process of writing without a guide.

Honestly, both are good methods of writing, though of course it depends on your personality. For me, I’m a planner for the most part, but if I nail down too many details before actually sitting down to write, it does take some of the fun and joy out of writing, so I try to keep things as open as I can.

If you’re like me then, I’m sure it’d be pretty tough to have to write a book synopsis for novels you haven’t written yet! Well, yeah, it was. But strangely, I did it anyway, and I’m glad I did.

Jane Friedman has a great comprehensive post on her blog. Here’s an excerpt:

What is a synopsis?

The synopsis conveys the narrative arc of your  novel; it shows what happens and who changes, from beginning to end.

There is no single “right” way to write a synopsis. You’ll also find conflicting advice about the appropriate length, which makes it rather confusing territory for new writers especially. However, I recommend keeping it short, or at least starting short. Write a 1-page synopsis and use that as your default, unless the submission guidelines ask for something longer. Most agents/editors will not be interested in a synopsis longer than a few pages.

Mine was about a page for each book. Now, I actually had to write a synopsis for books 2 and 3 – a lot of people write synopses for books AFTER they’ve written them. Marissa Meyer actually has a great blog post about how to write a synopsis after the book’s all done – really detailed! Why write it before? Well, in my case it was a good way to have a better idea of where the story was heading. I’ve always had a vague idea of what I wanted to happen, but having to write a synopsis really forced me to sit down and think through it and figure out stuff out including, in more concrete terms, the kind of background information that’ll inevitably help me craft the resolution of conflicts. Selling the first book is a great feeling, knowing you’ll have a series out there soon is an even greater feeling, but there does tend to be somewhat of a ‘now what?’ sense of panic once you have to actually sit down and write the next books. And again, mine was only about a page: 600-700 words. Which means lots of room for blanks to be filled in, and things to change. But it’s great to at least have a guide. This exercise was exceedingly helpful and made me feel tons more better about diving in again.

So…. what’s gonna happen in the next couple of books?


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