5 Stages of Brief: How I Wrote My Book Synopsis

1. Overconfidence. Hey, this should be a breeze. I mean, I wrote an entire novel. How hard could writing a dinky, little one- to two-page summary of the book be?

2. Panic. What?! How on earth am I supposed to fit 315 pages of detailed plot into a dinky, little one- to two-page summary of the book?

3. Research. I know… I’ll poke around the internet and see if there’s any good info out there on writing book synopses. What?! Every resource says the same bloody thing: Make it interesting, written in the same style you wrote your book. Write in present tense. Find the main themes/conflicts/characters of the book. Wrap things up, no cliffhangers. This is sorta helpful, but only in the way that a trigonometry tutor might advise: Be sure to use sharpened pencils, lined paper and a scientific calculator.

4. Determination. Okay, as Tony Manero said in Saturday Night Fever: “I’m an able person. I can do these things.” Just take it one sentence at a time, the same way you wrote the book. Perhaps you’ve been approaching this the wrong way: Don’t start at the beginning. Start with the main themes and conflicts. List your main characters. Lose the minor characters. They’ll understand. Piece together an outline. Forget about making it interesting, for now. Just make it coherent. Use transitions between paragraphs. Don’t forget those. Come up with a killer opening. Channel that guy who does all the voiceover work for movie trailers. Not Morgan Freeman. The other guy. Massage the writing. Make it flow. Work it, baby. Weave. Weave.

5. Triumph. Sit back and read and reread that puppy. Check for grammar and spelling (God forbid you ever spellcheck, you bonehead). Bask in the glow of the brevity. Stick it in an email and push “send” like nobody’s business, and go and have a tunafish sandwich.


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5 thoughts on “5 Stages of Brief: How I Wrote My Book Synopsis

  1. When the Synopsis is finished, would I wonder why I bothered to write the long version? Just wondering. Certainly hope not. Thanks for describing the journey from start to finish. Blessings to you…

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