June 27, 2016

When you publish your books yourself, you enjoy a great deal of freedom and creative control.  You also have to do every. single. thing. yourself.  Including writing the synopsis for your book.

The tricky thing is, there is no way to tell you exactly how to do that since what you end up with varies from book to book.  What you’re trying to accomplish, however, is pretty much the same.

You want to entice the reader.

But if you give too much away then they don’t need to read the book to know what happens. Or you’ve made your own work predictable.

You want to give the audience something they find interesting.

You know–a sorcerer prince, a spy ring, a heroine who must succeed against all odds.

You want to give them enough of the world that they know what they’re getting into.

And yet you want to evoke more questions than you answer.

In a lot of ways, in fact, a good synopsis is a little like a movie trailer.

One of my favorite movie trailers is the teaser for Legends of the Fall (the fabulous music is from the Last of the Mohicans score). It’s great at evoking emotion, showing you the world of the story and leaving you with plenty of questions.

How you create something like that for your book is the key.

In my experience a synopsis requires a few tries, at least. Like the author bio you want to start with a handful of things (plot points, story themes, character introductions) to include. You want to play with how to arrange them in a paragraph or two that gives the reader an overview of what your story is about without giving too much away. And you want to use the most evocative language possible. Great verbs and stunning adjectives in a writing style that matches the tone of your book.

One incredible resource is From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson.  Granted she’s discussing query letters, but the fundamentals are the same for both the synopsis and a query letter–you’re trying to get someone interested in your book.

Elana walks you through creating a hook, the set up, the conflict and the consequence for your story so that the most important elements are captured in a way that’s intriguing to potential readers.

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Posted in: Publishing ~

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