The Dreaded Synopsis

While my WIP is with an editor and readers, I am filling time by working on my query and synopsis for that WIP, so I will have the marketing materials ready ahead of time. That way, once I get my WIP feedback, I can set to work revising and be ready for querying immediately.

I have a query I quite like. A few other people are going to give me feedback, but I feel the underpinnings are solid.

My big problem is the synopsis. I can easily tell the story of what happens, at whatever length is required. What always seems to elude me is the voice of the book and the emotional heart of the story. By the time I have editing the plot down to something synopsis length, all of the voice and life have vanished and it reads like an outline in prose. Boring!

I have a first draft, which I will return to and try to liven up. But even if I get the voice in there, I feel I have missed the heart. A lot of the plot points I include are only important because of the emotional arc attached, but that somehow does not come through in this draft.

This part of the process always frustrates me, because I feel that I should be able to do this much better than I do. After all, this is my book—who else knows it as well as I? My passion and excitement do not come through on the synopsis page, and they need to. It reads like one of the many college papers I wrote. I got A’s on them, but the synopsis is judged by a different metric.

Perhaps I will approach the synopsis more like a short story. Perhaps viewing it through that lens will open up that emotional heart I’m lacking.

I believe that if I can write a great synopsis once, I will have the “lightbulb” moment that will show me how to do it consistently. Here’s hoping the lights come on soon!

How do you approach synopsis writing? Any advice to share?


  1. Synopsis is hard. I sent my to the writer’s group and had them edit it with a fine tooth comb. There’s an editing group called Scribendi that will going through your synopsis. Jonathan Maberry used to have a service where he critiqued your synopsis & query. He was very thorough with mine, but I don’t know if he still does it.

    Let me know how you make out.
    Barbara of the Balloons

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