On the synopsis

Well, there it is. The synopsis is now out 'in the wild', as they say. It seems strange to put out so much information about a novel that exists only as a manuscript on someone's desk (not mine).

I wanted to put it up on the web site though, partly to prove to myself that I actually complete it, but also to show how the synopsis will change over time. I recently dusted off the synopsis of my first novel, which is itself making a few rounds of prospective tree killers. It astounded me how ordinary and clunky the synopsis now sounded to my ears. I promptly hacked it to pieces and came up with something snappier. I'll post up examples of those in coming days too.

The synopsis is a difficult piece of writing. How do you summarise 60,000 words of your blood and sweat into a few pithy paragraphs that prompt the reader to want more? Which bits of the story do you emphasise over others? Do you attempt to tie it all together and hint at the conclusion or do you leave the reader hanging? Will that piss them off?

The one essential requirement for writing a good synopsis is the one thing that the author has absolutely none of: perspective. Given time and some distance from the manuscript, it is possible for the author to approximate perspective and use such approximation to good effect. But I suspect that the publisher's requirement of an author-penned synopsis is one final joke from the industry. You're stupid enough to write a novel? Now summarise it!