Synopsis: The Tool You Need (whether you know it or not)

Kobo Writing Life

by Chris Mandeville

Tools for WritersA synopsis is a document —sometimes a paragraph, sometimes several pages— that describes your book. What could be simpler? As a writer, I know my story better than anyone and thus should have no problem summarizing it.

Really? Yes, theoretically. But in the real world, writing a short summary of a novel can be a challenging task, particularly for the author, who often has a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

A synopsis is “a way of relating your story in a logical, chronological manner that hits the high points of plot and character development and resolution” from Writing the Fiction Synopsis: a step by step approach by Pam McCutcheon.

Setting aside for a moment the ease or difficulty of synopsis writing, let’s take a look at why you should care about synopses.

A synopsis is a tool used by writers, editors, and…

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  1. So true. I did NaNoWriMo four times. OK, I “won” it three times, and got waylaid by family stuff the fourth; but I came to appreciate just how important the synopsis is, for the writer, as a tool for understanding what it is you’re setting out to write. Not that you have to stick to your original synopsis like glue–that would squelch the creative process. My novel has morphed into something completely different from the original concept. And now my synopsis looks so different from the one I laid out as the meat-and-bones of the first version, you would never know it started out to be the same book. (A very strange sentence, but I think that anyone who has written a book will know what I mean.) I have a few more chapters to write, and since I’ve given the characters free license to write it themselves, who knows what that synopsis will look like when I finally get around to slapping the whole shebang up on Amazon!

    1. The synopsis is very challenging to write, but I found this post to be very helpful. Yes, we know what it means to start out writing one book and the book ending up being something totally different. Thank you so much Laura for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I keep changing the idea of what my final synopsis will look like because the more I write the more the story gets out of my hands and takes on it’s own path. this is a useful post though.

    1. I know what you mean. The one I was working on earlier this year no long applies. I’ve decided to just wait until I’m finished with all the revisions before I tackle it again.

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