(When I say worked, only time will tell of course.)
- Make a list of yucky things that seem preferable to writing a synopsis. Decide that writing a synopsis is infinitely better than, say, licking cat vomit.
- Read each chapter of your novel and write one paragraph describing the main events. I did this in long-hand and came up with three or four pages of scribble. (Scribble being my default best handwriting.)
- Type this up and edit where necessary.
- Read it over. Does your synopsis mention:
- Main characters (only the protagonists that move the story forward are needed)
- Setting, including year
- Main plot and sub-plot
- The ending (very important. Don’t be coy!)
- Take out anything superfluous - think plot; think the simplest terms for someone else to understand that plot
- Make sure the synopsis tone of voice reflects the novel tone of voice
- Edit, edit, edit! Edit until you’re sick! Edit some more!
- Read it aloud. Tweak if needed.
- And breathe...
And the best thing about writing a synopsis?
It really, really helps your novel. At least, it did for me. I started working on my synopsis earlier this year, and it identified a problem with my novel. Each time I began the synopsis I started it at a certain point - but this wasn't the point where my novel started. This discrepancy revealed a lurking fear that I'd started my novel in the wrong place - buried the poor thing in back story - and finally this set me on the path of the gigantic rewrite.
So, if things work out, I'll have to shake that synopsis by the hand and buy it a drink. It probably won't stop me writing lists about awful things I'd rather do than write one, but at least now I understand. A synopsis is your novel's best friend.