Will you need a synopsis for Pitch Wars? Yes. It’s now a requirement. Yeah, I get it. I hate writing synopses. But, unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil. Agents and editors may ask you for one. Get yours ready right after you finish your manuscript. Some writers do one before they even write the book. So I thought I’d share with you how I do my synopses. Here’s a simplified formula. I hope it helps you tackle that dreaded synopsis.
1st Part (1 paragraph) – The hook. Introduce your characters.
What makes your story unique? Find that special something that sets your story apart from all the other stories out there with similar premises. Your manuscript about the bonds of friendship isn’t special enough. But put the friends in a moon station or on a deserted island where they have to trust each other to survive and you have something unique. Introduce the main characters in your story. Leave out names to minor characters and only refer to them in general terms (i.e. her mother, the baker, etc.).
2nd Part (1 paragraph) – Act I. The slice of life. Inciting Incident.
It’s simply your character’s life before a door closes forever on the main character and life as they know it changes. End the paragraph with the inciting incident. How do you find the inciting Incident? The inciting incident takes the character from Act 1 of the story into Act 2. Your inciting incident should follow the “slice of life.” It’s the point of no return.
3rd Part (1 to 2 paragraphs) – Act II. No going back.
Your character hasn’t a choice to go back to his or her normal life. They must choose an action after the inciting incident. She has no choice but to move forward. Make sure to define the stakes in the story and add the road map to the climax. Goals and theme set. What does your character have to do to reach her/his/their goal? Include obstacles to that goal and turning points only for the main plot. Add any turning points. End with all is lost. The dark night of the soul moment for your character.
4th Part (1 to 2 paragraphs) – Act III. All seems lost. The climax.
Open with your character’s decision or a change from “all seems lost” to a new hope or action to win the day. Give us the big confrontation. Keep it clean and on the main plot. The main character wins the day, or not, depending on your story.
5th Part (1 paragraph) – Closing. The resolution. Wrap it up and give the ending.
Yes, you give the ending of the story. You can also add that it’s a standalone with series potential if you want.
- Add what is unique about your story. That something cool that makes an agent/editor want to make an offer.
- Don’t be vague. No teasers. The agent/editor must know everything important in the story.
- Don’t add backstory or subplots.
- Do add your voice.
- Your synopsis should always be written in third-person, present tense no matter the tense or POV of your novel.
- Keep your synopsis to around 500 -1000 words. A one-page synopsis is single-spaced with breaks between paragraphs. Two-pages or more should be double-spaced and formatted like a manuscript.
Did I miss something? Do you have any suggestions to make creating a synopsis easier? Please share with us in the comments of this post.