(Ducking Ruthy's rotten rutabagas)
Actually, there are tons of articles on the web about how to write a synopsis, and I even have a Synopsis Worksheet available on my Story Sensei website to help people write their synopsis. (Sorry, couldn't resist the blatant plug)
But I wanted to blog today about something not many synopsis-writing articles talk about--how the synopsis can really showcase a writer's unique voice.
While a synopsis is usually not your best writing, and a synopsis is all telling and no showing, you should nevertheless try to make the synopsis sound like your writer's voice and the tone of the story.
Your voice is what captures an editor or agent, so why not make that voice sound out in the synopsis as well as your manuscript? What do you have to lose? And you've got everything to gain.
You don't know what the editor/agent will read first--your manuscript pages or your synopsis. So if your voice is strong in the synopsis, it might intrigue the editor/agent enough (along with your stellar story plot) to be favorably inclined toward your manuscript.
That "favorably inclined" part is more powerful than you know. A propensity to like what they're about to read will go really far in making your stand out to that editor/agent.
What does it mean, my voice in my synopsis?
If your story is poignant, try to make the synopsis sound that way.
If your writer's voice is quirky and funny and the story is, too, try to get that into the synopsis.
IF your writer's voice is flowing and dramatic, make the synopsis writing flowing and dramatic.
If your writer's voice is dark and sexy, definitely get that in the synopsis!!!
Here's a "before" and "after" shot of the synopsis for a humorous contemporary romance I wrote that isn't published:
Risa Takayama has no social life because she's thrown all her energies into her wedding accessories shop in the mall. Unconventional, rebellious Risa hates the numerous family gatherings because her aunts tweak her about her weight and lack of a Significant Other.
Risa Takayama would rather eat rotten tofu than listen to her aunts’ tweaking her about her weight. She’s the Elephant Man next to her Barbie-doll cousins with their Ken sidekicks, so she throws herself into her wedding accessories shop in the mall, All the Trimmings. She’s becoming so savvy and self-sufficient, she hasn’t needed to bother God for any help in a while.
What about word count?
It's true, adding more of your voice to a synopsis usually adds words, and if you're trying to cut words, you might be tempted to cut out your voice.
The choice is yours, but if you can, try to cut other words and keep your writer's voice. It will make the synopsis stand out and give a taste of what your story is like, the atmosphere of the novel.
And you want a strong first impression for that synopsis and that story, right? Go for a powerful punch to make your story stand out from the dozens of other manuscripts that editor/agent has or will read that day.
What if I don't know what my voice is?
Ahhh, the internet. There are lots of good online articles about developing your writer's voice (I wrote one here: Developing Your Writer's Voice) and also great books you can order through Amazon or through your Inter Library Loan system at your local library.
I personally think it's really worth it to spend some good, quality time to develop your writer's voice. That voice is what captures an editor right away.
Let me end with a neat story. I was at Mount Hermon Writers Conference in the Career Track. There was a panel of editors, and the moderator read a paragraph or two from the beginnings of a few unpublished novels from my fellow classmates. The editors gave their on the spot impressions.
One particular story mesmerized the entire room from sentence one. The writer's voice was so unique and cool and awesome that the editors were overflowing with praise after the sample was read.
The VOICE was what captured those editors' attentions from the start. The story premise and characters came second. The writer's VOICE was the magic that made them want to read the rest of the manuscript.
YOU WANT TO HAVE THAT KIND OF WRITER'S VOICE!
Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!