Synopsis Hell!

The best way to put readers off your novel is to write a scene-by-scene synopsis. Or so it can feel. Prose is replaced by dry description. It’s like looking at an image of your most precious one rendered as an x-ray skeleton; the bare bones revealing nothing of what made them special.

Yes, I’m in the midst of writing a synopsis for a potential literary agent … and not managing it very well … and feeling that because of it i will fail, facing a winter of rejections. I don’t know if this is a common feeling. But it’s when the doubt creeps in – going over the whole thing again and finding yet more careless errors.

The main problem: how do you compress 100,000+ words into less than a thousand? Whole scenes have to be omitted. Which ones?  This is where it’s so easy to become lost; not able to see the wood for the trees. The funny thing is, writing a blurb-style teaser précis hasn’t been a problem – you give an impression, set up the tension (must stop rhyming now). But by the same token that can build false expectations in much the way advertising often does.

I’m certainly not expecting much sympathy from anyone in the publishing industry. They’d probably tell me: “If you can’t manage to sum up your novel in less than a thousand words then maybe there is something wrong with the book itself.”


3 thoughts on “Synopsis Hell!

  1. I know what you mean. It’s hard to write a synopsis for your own book. I’ve found that it helps to have someone else write it that has no attachment to the story. I’ve did some editing to your summary. I hope you like it, or it at least gives you some inspiration. (Didn’t actually read the story, just went off of your summary)
    Torbin is enjoying a prosperous career and a fantastic marriage when suddenly something strange happens that makes him question his entire life; has it all been a lie? The only person that has the answers Torbin seeks is a man that has come back from the dead. Torbin sets off on a desperate journey to find this man, but someone else wants the truth to remain hidden.
    Aliens infiltrate Earth! To study its people one alien must disguise them self and integrate into society. But their involvement goes far beyond observation and they become embroiled in a dangerous struggle to save humanities remnants. A powerful enemy emerges from the depths of space to offer assistance against a growing threat. But their motives are called into question and trust may be a risk no one is willing to take.
    As more civilizations are consumed by a relentless enemy; the only options are desperate ones and the only allies are old enemies. Do the rules of war still apply when facing extinction?

  2. I asked my husband to write a review of my book. What he actually wrote was a half page synopsis that gave the whole plot up (exactly what a literary agent wants a writer to provide on submission). I’d spent weeks and weeks, if I’m being honest months, trying to do just that. Great advice. Get someone to write it for you!

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