Bah! regulars will remember crabbit old bat Nicola Morgan from her help with the first Bah! book, and her book ‘Write To Be Published’. (The title of which I have only just ‘got’, right then, as I was typing it. Dear oh dear. I’m not the sharpest scalpel on the trolley sometimes.) Well, she’s been at it again: her e-book ‘Write A Great Synopsis’ is out now. And she’s popped over to talk about it. (Oh, and don’t go thinking that Ms Morgan only writes about writing. We haven’t even mentioned her fiction, or her books about brains.)
Hello Nicola, and welcome to Bah!. You’ve written an awful lot of books. Which of your books is your favourite?
Hello, Stephanie and thank you for letting me invade visit your lovely blog. And I see you’ve started with the “Which is your favourite child?” question . My usual answer to that question is, “The one I want to talk to you about at that moment.” So, you might expect me to say, Write a Great Synopsis (WAGS), but I’m going to play another card and say Mondays are Red. It was my first novel and it has a special place in my heart.
The new book is ‘Write a Great Synopsis’. Why do we need to be able to write a great synopsis?
Aspiring writers have to include one in their submission to agent or publisher; published writers often have to write one for the benefit of the sales and marketing people who rule the roost at the acquisitions meeting. On its own it will not get you a deal (or lose you one, unless it’s complete eel vomit, which is very unlikely if you can write a book because if you can write a decent book you can write a decent synopsis.) But it’s one of those exercises we need to get under our belts.
I think I’d rather write a whole book, delete it, then write it again from memory before I sit down and write a synopsis. Why do so many writers dislike synopses so much?
Because no one (until now…) has ever come along to show you how simple they are! And because writers think synopses are more important than they are. They are importantish, yes, because if you are a writer all your writing is important. Also, I think writers hate synopses because we never feel as though they do our beautiful book justice. Of course they don’t. If your synopsis was more gripping and wonderful than your book, your book wouldn’t be worth publishing. (Think about that.)
What are the common mistakes that people make in synopsis writing?
Not knowing what to leave out; not seeing the clearing for the forest. Being too close to the book and not being able to see it through a fresh reader’s eyes. Thinking that detail in a synopsis makes the story sound plausible: it does the opposite.
And what’s the single most important thing to get right?
Know the core of your book and the main character and build the synopsis around it. I advocate a trick called the Crappy Memory Tool, which involves forgetting (easy for me) as much as possible about your book. What you’re left with is the important stuff. As all our mothers used to say, “Well, if you’ve forgotten it, it can’t be that important.” And if it’s not that important, leave it out.
I believe your next guide for writers is already in the pipeline – can you tell us about it?
Erm, “pipeline” is possibly an exaggeration. It’s a twinkle in my eye. It’s called (probably) Dear Agent (subtitle to be added) and will be about how to write (and how not to write) the tricky covering letter to agents and publishers. Now that is difficult. A synopsis is far, far easier.
And where can readers (and writers) buy your books?
Ooh, I like that question! In lots of lovely places. Probably the best thing I can do is suggest that you either go to any bookshop and if they don’t have it ask politely if they will order it, or follow this link.
Thank you so very much for hosting this stop on my WAGS blog tour. Any of your readers who are also writers might be interested in the Big WAGS Competition – all commenters below this post will be entered and prizes include synopsis critiques. (If you’d like to comment but don’t want to enter the competition, just say!) Details on my blog, where you’ll see details of the other blog tour stops – and the more participating posts you comment on, the greater your chances of winning.
Meanwhile, all you writers out there: Don’t panic – it’s only a synopsis!
For details about the book, including buying options, go here.