I have been writing the synopsis for the second Veronica Walsh mystery over the last few days. A description of the plot, including the ending, the synopsis acts as a sort of calling card for a novel. It’s a writer’s sales pitch. When literary agents and editors enjoy the first chapters of a manuscript, they will look to the synopsis to see how the rest of the story unfolds before committing to reading the full work. The synopsis will demonstrate the writer’s ability to develop the plot and bring it to a satisfying conclusion. Are the characters three-dimensional? Is there sufficient conflict? Does the ending fulfill the promise of the beginning?
A synopsis can range in length from one page to more than ten. Some agents and editors want the one-page, others want a complete account of the plot and sub-plots of the novel. I prefer writing a longer synopsis; I can include the points from the sub-plot I wrote for comic relief, add a bit of dialog, and slip in one or two rhetorical questions. With a one-page synopsis, I have to be very concise. I cannot introduce every character or detail each twist. And I can forget about asking: Did Penelope murder Oscar because he discovered she was his wife’s long-lost evil twin?
All right, that’s not the plot of this second book. It’s simply an example of a synopsis space-waster. Fourteen words lounging around, doing nothing.
Some authors write the synopsis before they start their novel. I write a one page and multi-page synopsis when I’ve finished the last draft of the book. It’s like taking a step away from the project and objectively viewing the work. Composing the synopses helps me pinpoint any plot holes or inconsistencies I didn’t notice while working on the story. I sometimes discover a scene where I need to work on the dialog, or add a line or two more of description. And writing the synopses helps me condense the entire story to the one sentence pitch I will include in not only the cover letter I send to Five Star, but will utter countless times as I describe to everyone who asks me, “What’s the book about?”
By the way, this second installment in Veronica’s amateur sleuthing adventures is titled Murder, By George.
Have a great week, everyone!