Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Writing A Synopsis - Lesson One

A good synopsis should begin with a hook. Just as your manuscript must grab the reader from the first page, so should your synopsis grab a potential editor in the first paragraph.

The best way to accomplish this is to create a back page blurb. Here an example from HIT AND RUN, my first novel:

Beth Barrett's twin sister, Jilly, has been killed by a hit and run driver. Beth knows who did it. Proving it is the problem. The twins are linked through a psychic connection that hasn't diminished with Jilly's death, but no one believes it, not even Ryan Snider, the sexy detective assigned to the case.

When a stalker targets Beth, she can't prove that either. Faced with a cunning adversary, she must depend on her own strength, and an unlikely bond with her dead sister, to unmask a killer before she becomes the next victim.

An example from FOXFIRE, my second novel:

Nothing bad ever happens in Foxifre. Then Grace Wilkins' fiance discovers her secret and calls off the wedding. Suddenly strange things begin to happen. An enamored neighbor makes veiled threats. Roses appear mysteriously on her doorstep. Her beloved dog is viciously stabbed, and the sexy veterinarian who saves her has a hidden agenda--and a gun. Now Grace must confront her past to reveal the identity of her stalker or become his next victim.

An example from JOSHUA's HOPE, my latest novel:

Hope Courtland escaped her marriage to save her life. Her only regret is leaving her four-year-old stepson, Joshua, behind. Though she wants custody, no attorney is willing to tackle her ex-husband in a custody battle. Hope’s faith begins to falter. She learns that Joshua is paying the consequences for her freedom, and in an act of desperation, she kidnaps him. Suddenly, she becomes a suspect in her ex-husband’s murder.

Zack Stone is content to be sheriff of Pine Cove, Tennessee, where the worst conflict he deals with is handing out speeding tickets. Though his faith is strong, he struggles with issues of forgiveness surrounding his wife’s death. When he rescues Hope in a rainstorm, the last thing he expects is to find a woman who stirs his heart. Being a small town sheriff shouldn’t involve kidnapping and murder, but Zack can’t turn his back on Hope and the little boy she loves.

Your tone must reflect the genre of your novel. The first two examples above are both romantic suspense. I know that a reader will expect to see the essence of the suspense and also a hook for the attraction to the hero. The last example I included is an inspirational romantic suspense. Not only must I include the suspense hook and the romantic anticipation, but also show that a faith journey will be included.

When you begin writing your synopsis, you can include the blurb as the beginning. So, go to your local bookstore and pick up some books in your genre. Study the back page blurbs.

Spend the week defining the back page blurb for your manuscript. When you begin to write yours, don't be discouraged. It takes time and a lot of revision to refine these paragraphs until they speak to you. Feel free to post your results here for feedback.

Next Tuesday, I'll post lesson two.

Thanks for stopping by.

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