With my manuscript virtually complete, I have now been trying to perfect the dark art of writing the one page synopsis! Again, the help that I have had from my mentor Sandra Glover from Cornerstones Literacy Consultancy has been invaluable. Another useful source has been the SCBWI website and Facebook group, which are full of tips. Lastly, I have taken advice from the submission pages of various agents.
Before beginning, I spent time making sure that I was really clear in my own mind what the main thread of the plot is. To focus my mind I tried to write three sentences to sum it up. I would really recommend this, even though it might seem impossible to begin with. You’ve just written 30,000+ words and now you need to condense it into 75 words or so.
I actually found it fun playing around with sentences to say as much as possible with as little as possible. If someone was to ask me what my book is about, I can answer them concisely and at the same time give a flavour of its quirky humour.
For the actual writing of the one page synopsis, I mainly followed the template below:
Paragraph 1: Set-up – introduce main character plus problems/goal
Paragraph 2: Inciting event
Paragraphs 3-5: Turning points/mini-climaxes of the story (including character arc)
Paragraph 6: Rug-pulling moment and darkest moment
Paragraph 7: Climax
Paragraph 8: Resolution with a focus on how the main character has changed
Initially, I wrote too much detail. If you read different agents’ submission pages they will tell you that they don’t actually want every twist and turn of the plot. They want a sense of the main character(s) arc and where the story is heading.
It took me quite a while to write the first draft and to get it down to one page. I kept asking myself if each sentence was vital to the plot or the character’s journey. If it wasn’t, it was cut. At the same time I tried to convey the quirkiness of the story.
I sent this to Sandra. She used this as a basis to write a version showing me how to set it out, leaving a line in between each short paragraph, and clearly showing the stages of the plot. From this I have then played around with it, until I now have a much clearer and improved one page synopsis.
I would love to know how you have approached writing yours. Please let me know your tips.
The next step will be to research which agent would be the best match for my book and to write the covering letter.