Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Get Synopsis Savvy with Guest Blogger Amy Ruttan

Author Amy Ruttan helps us get Synopsis Savvy today at the Book Boost!

Here is what she had to say...

I was out with my critique partner for some bookstore haunting and coffee, and we got talking about craft…in particular the dreaded SYNOPSIS (I always hear Jaws music when I think of it).

One of my faboo CPs has just become an editor, and she was talking in general about how a submission can be FANTASTIC, but when it came down to the synopsis it was incorrectly formatted, full of dialogue and fluff, was twenty pages long or too short … as in a blurb.

I do a lot of judging for unpubbed contests through my own RWA chapter and other online ones. I quite like judging, but it’s rare I come across a truly fantastic synopsis. I always try to leave helpful comments to help improve the synopsis.

All of this got me thinking to my very first synopsis … which I never subbed because before I subbed I had learned the proper way (thank heavens it was terrible). It was one of the twenty page offenders and full of dialogue.

I have some advice for those embarking on the synopsis writing:

1. A synopsis needs to show the Goal, Motivation and Conflict (GMC) of the hero and heroine.

2. The main plot should be fully outlined. A synopsis should NOT end on a cliffhanger. The whole “if you ask for the full I’ll tell you the end” doesn’t fly with editors or agents, in fact it ticks them off. I know this from listening to them speak or Tweet over the years.

3. Synopsis shouldn’t contain dialogue.

4. If an house asks for a synopsis 2-7 pages in length it means minimum 2 pages, not just a blurb typed up. So pay attention to editor and agent guidelines, they’re there to help you.

5. Don’t fill the synopsis with secondary characters, it should cover the heroine and hero’s conflicts. Subplots and minor plot threads can be left out.

6. Make sure your synopsis is just as polished as your manuscript. The synopsis needs to be grammatically correct and spell checked. A synopsis is a business proposal, and thus needs to be professional. I know one of my editors states that if the synopsis is full of grammatical errors and is sloppy then she’ll assume the manuscript is just as sloppy.

A lot of authors finish the book and then *groan* the synopsis, darn I have to write that damn synopsis. I have done this too many times, totally forgetting the best piece of advice I heard from Kelley Armstrong “WRITE THE SYNOPSIS FIRST” even then writing out the rough synopsis first doesn’t have to be perfect, and your manuscript may differ, but at least you’ll have a rough foundation when you go back after the book is finished to make sparkle, and takes the work out of doing it after the book is written.

The rough synopsis I do first is my lazy way of plotting too. LOL!

Now these aren’t set rules, these are just things I have learned over the years and have helped me perfect the art of synopsis writing.

But remember, make it shine just as good as your manuscript. It’s a business proposal and a reflection of you.

A Note from the Book Boost: Great tips on better Synopsis writing, Amy! Thanks so much for joining us! By the way, I thought I was the only one who regularly used the word "faboo"! LOL Please tell us more about your book.


The war is over, but the battle has just begun. Aislinn knows the husband she wishes for is no more than a fantasy. Her discovery of a man to be hers brings no comfort, for a Centeris could never love her for what she is: Sidhe.

As she tries to hide her true self from the gentle warrior, death stalks her. The perpetrator behind a series of attacks wants more than to destroy the precarious peace—they want her powers.

To save her people, she must reveal herself and risk his love or leave him to face the challenge—alone.


He couldn’t believe what had just happened. His little Mid Dividian wife was a fireball in bed. She had taken him. He had never been taken by a woman before, and male pride dictated that he should be offended, that he should have been the one to ride her. At this moment, though, he didn’t care. That was the most satisfying mating he had ever experienced, and he looked forward to the next time.

Maybe there was a benefit to being married to a pagan. He felt the skin of her forehead pressed against his chest. He felt her lips, her hot breath against his skin as she panted. He pulled off his mask and tossed it away to look down at his wife.

His heart skipped a beat as he really looked at the red golden hair hanging over her shoulders. The enchantress rose before him in his mind; she had had red golden curls.

“Aislinn,” he said, breathing heavily, “let me see your face.”

Want More Amy?

Visit her website here: http://www.amyruttan.com
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Sandra Cox said...

Lot of good info here. 'Jaws music'. I love it:)

Amy Ruttan said...

LOL! There are a few dreaded parts of the submission music where the Jaws theme is appropriate. LOL!

Unknown said...

Great info, Amy. Thanks! Your book sounds great. I really enjoyed the excerpt.

Amy Ruttan said...

You're welcome Jena! :)

I just wished I had learned it a lot sooner, before I created that 20 page monster when I started. Would've saved brain cells & a tree! LOL!