Short, Sweet Synopsis

One of the biggest struggles I have (totally a first-world problem) is trying to sum up my unpublished novels in a short, sweet synopsis that will draw the reader in and make him or her want to read the whole book.

Writing advice/how-to books will tell you to look for examples of TV show and movie descriptions on Netflix and the back cover blurbs of popular books in your genre. These can help you build a short, professional-sounding pitch.

BookPage can also help. It’s a free (yay, free stuff!) magazine distributed by the local library that features reviews and descriptions of new and forthcoming books. (The online version is here.) Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast was described with this simple sentence:

When a 9-year-old boy known for crying wolf disappears, the villagers of Three Pines are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.

You can tell a lot about the story from reading this: you know the characters, the setting, and the conflict. You can guess at the genre (possibly suspense or mystery based on a fable, which could include some fantasy or supernatural elements). It’s just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity. I kinda want to read this book if the library purchases it.

Crafting the perfect synopsis is a kind of art, not unlike writing a haiku. Thankfully, there are tons of examples out there to guide you.

7 thoughts on “Short, Sweet Synopsis

  1. Right? A synopsis is crazy! Also known as an elevator pitch, it’s one of the hardest thing an author has to pen, I think. I’m currently working on mine and it’s tough! I never know if I’ve revealed too much or left too much out. Thanks for the link!

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  2. Unless you’re Salman Rushdie or somebody like that, I think pretty much all writing problems are first-world problems. 🙂

    I always find it very tricky to do a quick synopsis like this. My main problem is that recently I”ve been writing stories where the genre itself should come as a surprise.

    I’ve described my story Stevie One like this: “The story of a teenage girl who runs away from home, for very compelling reasons. She falls in with bad companions, and learns quite a bit about herself and the world. And, in the process, does something pretty remarkable.”

    That’s pretty generic, probably not that compelling. But to say any more would give too much away.

    Good thing I’m not trying to sell these stories. 🙂

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