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Taking the dread out of the Dreaded Synopsis

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

More tips from the editing cave

In my Editing Cave posts, I use real-world editing issues that I've come across in my work - I never name names and I always reword examples to share any blushes (except my own - those I will shamelessly share!)

Synopsis Struggles

I've been reading a lot of synopses recently, in my role as a competition judge. With each one I feel a pang of sympathy — I know, they're awful. No one wants to write them, we all just want to be left alone to create, right. Why do we need a synopsis at all?

Craft Tips from the Editing Cave
The whole picture

Confession time ...

So I actually love a synopsis, and here's why.

The word synopsis literally means "seeing all at once". It’s a way of showing your whole story in summary - the entire picture and this is why it seems so hard – you’re being asked to take your x-thousand words of creative passion and turn it into an operating system for a story.

So, why does everyone seem to want to see your story all at once?

Agents, publishers, literary or media scouts, Critique Partners, competition judges, etc. all WANT to see your story all at once. But who NEEDS to?

You do!

So, you might be wondering, where in all of this does one find love and appreciation for the synopsis?

Why do I write them alongside my books, not at the end? Why do I write multiple incarnations of them, growing them as my story grows?

Because for me a synopsis isn’t just for querying, or selling your story to a publisher, or trying to make your mentor understand why that 10-page prologue is important.

It’s a tool for you

To see your story all at once.

So you can write it, edit it, understand it. See where it’s soggy, see where it’s slow, see how it comes together beautifully. It will show you that you have too many characters or that your villain lacks agency, it will flag up that your MC hasn’t changed enough, or hasn’t found their need as well as their want. It will tell you if your ending is boring, or unbelievable, or comes from out of nowhere.

It will help you – and for that, you can fall in love with it a bit


More tips on writing your synopsis coming very soon - I'll be looking at different approaches to building a synopsis from the ground up ... or from the top down.

Happy writing!


Join me next time for more tips from the editing cave, and if you'd like entry to the cave, check out the services I offer: click below and say hello

From EmDashED Freelance Novel Editing


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