The Synopsis and its Friends

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© Chasbrutlag | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Chasbrutlag | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Image

When I am asked what my books are about, I try to respond with one sentence. That answer is not a synopsis, but what I would consider one of the synopsis’ “friends.” Books descriptions serve specific purposes. And just to make it easier, not everyone agrees on the rules. I’ve pulled together some thoughts and resources on what I consider the three most common forms of synopses.

Three Forms of Synopses

The Synopsis

What it is:  Tells the entire story, particularly the conflict

Length:  One-page single spaced or two pages double spaced maximum

Purpose:  To interest an agent or publisher to request manuscript

Tip:  Convey emotion

Example:  Spoiler alert! This synopsis includes the ending of “The Way Way Back.”

The Book Blurb

What it is: The 30-second elevator pitch normally seen in advertisement copy or on a book’s back cover or inside jacket flap

Length:  100 – 200 words

Purpose:  To tell potential readers enough to get them interested or used by sales representatives to pitch titles, post on retailers’ websites, and post in catalogues

Tip:  Make a connection with readers and book buyers

Example: Distributors’ book blurb (advertisement copy) for “Believing In Horses, Too”

The Super Short Synopsis

What it is:  My term for the short answer to describe the book in conversation or to append to a biographical line in a written post

Length:  One sentence

Tip:  Not much written on this one, but it’s the one I use most

Example:  A girl in a military family overcomes fears through her work with therapeutic riding programs (“Believing In Horses, Too”)

Additional Resources

Following are some additional useful resources I’ve found, with a brief description of each.

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman) – Outstanding advice, and many useful links.

Five Tips on How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Chuck Sambuchino) – This article and links to other articles on the synopsis; the author also provides freelance services for synopsis writing.

Query Shark  -  Blog providing advice on how to write query letters that work – much based on synopses. Writers may submit their queries for critique.

How to Write the Back Blurb for Your Book (Joanna Penn) – Advice on back cover blurbs, and a little more.

Conclusion

Now you try – at the very least, ensure you have a super short synopsis ready to describe your writing, your business, or whatever it is that you do. Feel free to share here!

 

Words of Encouragement

Valerie Ormond Believing In HorsesI opened my LinkedIn messages last week and found a thoughtful, professional recommendation from a colleague about my Navy life, my writing, and Believing in Horses.

I have known this colleague, Joe, for over 20 years. He was one of my senior officers in the Navy. Joe is the kind of guy who asks how you are doing, waits to hear the answer, and truly cares what you have to say. He is a gentleman, a strategic thinker, and a prolific writer. He can be counted on as the guy in a room who will be the first one to stand up and ask a question during that awkward silence while a speaker is waiting for someone to do so. And Joe asks the hard questions everyone else in the audience wants to know the answers to also. I’ve always had great respect for Joe. [Read more...]

Doctor’s Advice – Give a Book

 

Author of "an Unlikely Goddess"

Author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Today I’m happy to bring you award-winning author Mohana Rajakumar and her recent novel, “An Unlikely Goddess.” Dr. Rajakumar is a writer, educator, and scholar of literature. She earned her PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory.  She is the author of seven e-books, and believes “words can help us understand ourselves and others.”

About “An Unlikely Goddess:”

” Sita is the firstborn, but since she is a female child, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrates as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother. Sita’s struggles to be American and yet herself, take us deeper into understanding the dilemmas of first generation children, and how religion and culture define women.” [Read more...]

Writing Resources for Veterans and Others

VWPI recently spent a fantastic weekend with the Veterans Writing Project. For those not familiar, the Veterans Writing Project is a non-profit based in Washington, DC, offering no-cost writing seminars and workshops for veterans, active and reserve service members, and military family members.

During the two-day seminar, I spoke up when I had information I thought may help others. I was going to send the list of websites and references I mentioned to the other seminar attendees, and thought – why not share it with others?

So here are some tips that came to my mind during this course, which I hope may be of some use to you. [Read more...]

It’s Not Just a Job

NWVSB

When I joined the military, the Navy’s recruiting slogan was “It’s not just a job; it’s an adventure.” I lived that adventure for 25 years and experienced more than I ever imagined. And now, the adventure continues.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a former “shipmate,” Linda Maloney, asking if I was interested in becoming a member of a new speakers bureau comprised of female veterans. Linda and I had served together in Air Wing ELEVEN onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72). We were among the first women deployed on combatant aircraft carriers. Being the first at anything presents challenges, and both challenges and deployments create special bonds. [Read more...]

Author’s Advice: Have Faith in Yourself

SHADOW OF ATLANTIS_front onlyYes, we CAN travel back in time…with books. Today Wendy Leighton-Porter, author of the Shadows of the Past time-travel novels, talks about a few of her sixteen time-travel adventures, and more. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know this interesting woman who spends her time writing and enjoying life in the United Kingdom and southern France. 

Wendy, my first question – what inspired you to write your Shadows from the Past series of time-travel novels?

My mother had always told me I should write a book. However, with a full-time teaching job, complete with lessons to plan, books to mark, exams to correct and reports to write in the evenings and on weekends, I never quite found enough time. When I gave up my teaching career, I found I no longer had an excuse. But what would I write? For some unknown reason, I had a sudden epiphany whilst on a flight from the UK to France. The idea for my “Shadows from the Past” series just popped into my head, almost fully-formed. I couldn’t wait to get started and, as soon as I was able to sit down at my computer, I found the first story just flowed out of me! [Read more...]