Who Hates Synopses?

CS Inman (aka Sän) has a surprisingly good synopsis up to read. Basically everyone, everywhere, hates writing their novel synopsis, so I’m automatically impressed by anyone that manages to write a synopses that’s entertaining and informative.

This even applies to the victims participants in Joshua Palmatier’s synopsis day. Now the synopses listed here were “successful” synopses, meaning that they were for novels that eventually sold. But even so, I found most of them dull, incomprehensible, or overly long. Probably the easiest one to read was Mike Brotherton’s synopsis of Star Dragon. That one suffered from the opposite problem: it was fast-paced and easy to follow, but the writing style itself felt amateurish. (I have no idea if that applies to the book itself, which I haven’t read.)

Reading all those pro synopses made me think that maybe the synopsis was free to be long and boring, which was good because my synopsis was long and boring. It was 2500 words of dull. It was a plodding, interminable death-march through a dozen names and a series of irrelevant places.

When I set out to pare it down this week, the first pass got it down to 1250 words and something of a respectable hook.Sän and Eva have both helped me further pare it down and spruce it up, so the final draft will be under 1,000 words, and hopefully will actually help sell the novel.


  1. Who Hates Synopses? MEMEME!! OH ME!
    I always end up writing too many words, and always unhappy with the results. Thanks for posting this. I’m in the process of mastering the synopsis…even if it kills me.

  2. I’ve decided that it’s actually the worst part of being a writer. I’ve never stressed out so much over submitting/rejecting as I have over writing a stupid synopsis.

    Next time I have the chance to talk to an agent at a conference, I’m going to demand to know if they like the boring kind that explains all the subplots, or if they like the readable kind that sums up the story.

    If I was bored and hated myself, I could try reading through all the Ask The Agent threads on AW, but fortunately I don’t have a Spanish Inquisition fetish. The only thing almost as bad as writing a synopsis is looking for information on how to do it.

  3. When I started doing the boring old research on how to write a good synopsis, the thing that scared me most was learning it’s often used by marketing departments and sellers, and could end up (in part) as the back cover blurb. OMG! Now my anxiety over how good or bad the damn thing is has quadrupled. Thanks internet!

    But well done on completing your synopsis, it’s no easy feat 🙂

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