I am writing the dreaded synopsis! How can I make mine stand out from the crowd? What do editors really want to see? I am targeting the Presents line with a super wealthy alpha hero and street smart yet innocent heroine with sizzling chemistry. Any advice gratefully received,
Great question! The synopsis is a fantastic tool for writers to not only showcase the uniqueness of your voice, but to give editors a little teaser of what you have planned in your romance – thee types of conflicts you’ve set up, the characteristics which define your characters for example. But it can also act as a tool for you as your writing, to help keep your story focused, and to ensure you meet all the turning points, black moments etc, that you want to achieve.
So let’s start by looking at how you use a synopsis to help yourself, and then to help bolster your submission…
The Author’s Synopsis
First thing to remember is that every writer is different when it comes to writing a synopsis, and each adopt a method which works for them. So, if you’re more of a planner, then sitting down to write the synopsis first of all may be the most useful way to start. But don’t worry if you’re more inclined to write as you think. Once you’ve finished your first draft, you can then think about recapping, and writing out a synopsis. These types of synopsis don’t have to be perfect, but are more of a reference point for yourself.
Think of them like a check list – does your story have all the elements you need to create a satisfying romance?
- Have you got fleshed out, layered conflicts for your hero and heroine?
- Is the overarching conflict sustainable?
- Are there a number of twists and turns or does the black moment come too late?
- Are the obstacles you’ve created externally driven, or do they relate back to your chosen emotional conflicts?
When looking at your story written out in short, it should provide you with an opportunity to see exactly what happens, and if you have the right level of emotion, tension and drama to create a satisfying romance. If not, then there is always time to go back and tweak. Because if you’re happy with the way you have pitched the book to yourself, chances are you’re on the right track!
The Editor’s Synopsis
The next stage is to prepare the synopsis to send in with your submission. I know this may be daunting, but it really shouldn’t be. This is your opportunity to dazzle editors with your creativity, the uniqueness of your voice and show us just how much you love your book!
Think of it as your own back cover copy!
Back cover copy is a fantastic tool to tantalize the reader about what to expect, what makes your characters stand out and which themes are in your book. So why not approach your synopsis in the same way?
- Why not open with a few lines from your book, an opportunity to let you voice shine?
- Or a small summary, that covers the main hooks of the story, can be fun too! E.g. ‘Xander Smith isn’t afraid of danger, living on the edge runs through his blood. But coming face to face with the fiery Jessica, he finally feels like he’s met his match…!’
- Introduce your characters with a bang – we want to know exactly what makes them stand out from the crowd! If you’ve done something different with your characters, show us! Make sure anything distinctive in your story is in your synopsis! It is your first chance to grab our attention, so use it!
- Keeping it to 2 pages or under is a great place to start, think of it as a short, snappy summary.
Think about what makes you pick up a book, and use this as your starting point.
The editor’s road map
And lastly, use your synopsis to guide editors through your story. With only 3 chapters initially, we need the synopsis to help understand where you are planning on taking your story, and that it remains on the series promise you are submitting to. It does not have to be fully fleshed out, remember, less is more! But it is essential to have a clear understanding of what journey you are going to take your characters on, that there are enough twists and turns to keep us reading more.
We are not looking for the finished article, we are always just looking for potential. Sending in something perfect is not necessary, but demonstrating you know what series you’re targeting, that you have thought long and hard about your story and your characters, will all be evident in a well constructed synopsis.
If you enjoy writing them, we’ll enjoy reading them!
The SOLD editors x