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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.

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Monday, 1 March 2010
On Friday and Saturday I was with a group from the Cure Parkinson’s Trust which was founded by Tom Isaccs who is extraordinary and could, I’m sure, motivate a stale cheese sandwich. There were some truly remarkable people there which made me feel that though there is much to do that nothing is impossible. And what is it we want to do? We need to raise awareness to Parkinson’s and importantly to the fact that while most people believe that it is a disease of old age each year, around 500 people under 40 are diagnosed with it. Yes, you read that correctly – FORTY. With no cure for this progressive degenerative condition their lives are beset with worry, pain and fear. A cure must be found, but with no government funding for research it will take forever unless we demand that money is found. Still, this is not going to get the book written but I feel better for telling you. So . . . The Synopsis Maybe I should have written the dreaded synopsis for people do seem to be afraid of it and there’s no need. What is a synopsis for? It enables agents and editors to see that you have written a viable plot with a beginning a middle and an end. It enables them, in the shortest possible time and without having to read the whole, to evaluate what you have written and is it a subject they are interested in, have need of, or is it a duplicate? What is necessary? 1. It’s best to keep it as short as possible. Every agent and editor I’ve spoken to say they do not like long, too detailed, synopses. One page of A4 is ideal. Why? It is nigh on impossible to make a synopsis sound fabulously interesting. 2. This is always single spaced rather than the double you’ve had drummed intoyou. 3. It is written in the third person. 4. The following are essentials to include. A. Remember to say what kind of novel it is. Romance, thriller, rom-com etc. If they don’t handle romance then you have let them know and not wasted their time. B. The theme, in other words what is it about. C. What period is it set in and where. If multiple places then say so. D. Mention the main characters with their names. If you have a cast of thousands don’t be tempted. And the don’ts. 1. Don’t talk it up – “this is a potential bestseller . . .” “this will make a great film . . . I see George Clooney . . .” You don’t know that and others will decide if it is. Similarly don’t tell them how to market it. 2. You would be advised not to litter the text with teasers of the will she won’t she type. They want a clear, clean outline. Also do not end with a cliff hanger or sassy remarks like – you’ll have to read it to find out. It annoys. 3. As you are not including minor characters, as much as you love them, don’t include the mino plot lines either. 4. If you refer to ‘The novel . ..’ It could be anything or anyone’s, use the name. 5. Go through it ruthlessly pruning unnecessary words so that it is as short and succinct as you can make it. A good synopsis, well written and to the point, is, after all, showing them how well you can write for brevity is always harder than verbose.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, this is SO useful. I shall bookmark it so I can find it forever.

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  2. Useful post, thanks Anita.

    You might like to read this. Joel (nutuba) is a friend I met through writing. This is what he has just sent me, it ties in with your post.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2744861/parkinsons_disease_hope_at_last.html?cat=5

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  3. Oh Annie, you always hit the nail on the head. You make it sound so easy to do. I'm bookmarking this one. Thank you.

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  4. So useful Anita, thanks so much :)

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  5. Goodness me, I hated writing my novel synposis. It's such an essential part of the submission package and so easy to get wrong.

    All the advice here is great though...

    *bookmarks for next time*

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  6. You have confused a Synopsis with a Covering letter and a Query. Half the stuff oyu've mentioned goes into the covering letter, not the synopsis,. or is combined in a Query for the US market.

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  7. For Anon.
    Must be a long letter!

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