Well, I am not sure I have achieved a ‘wow’ factor but I have been focused on writing a synopsis for each of my novel series. Two books so far, with a third at the development stage. It is a case of reducing over 70,000 words in each book to a reasonable 500. Yeah, 500 words, which is the number an agent requested in the submission guidelines. According to my research, in those 500 words it is useful to include the word count, the genre, and the resolution with all guilty parties shamed and named. Some sites suggest putting in the location, and a comparison to other books.
In my synopsis, I categorise this story as mystery but to my mind it is also commercial fiction, women’s fiction and could fit into cosy as well. The second book in the series fits the latter genre better. It has a strong female protagonist. Okay, she is wimpy to begin with but gains strength as the story progresses. In the second book she is kick-ass, in a very English way.
I found it a fascinating exercise honing in on the main thrust of the story, as well as making it as exciting as possible without it being dramatic or a boring report of events. Sub-plots are ignored as are the finer details including numerous other characters that populate the story.
Excerpt of 500-words synopsis for Behind the Mask (Secrets Book 1)
In this 77,000-word mystery set in NW England, TIA needs to know whether her husband disappeared with another woman or because he feared for his life. She overcomes her feelings of guilt and uncovers long buried secrets.
Tia’s husband, KEVIN, never arrives at his new job and never returns home. Guilt overwhelms her when she discovers his obsession with drawing eyes, remembers his erratic behaviour over a property known as Priesthouse, and his claim of being stalked. Her guilt compounds when she spots a picture of an eye signed by Kevin. She sends him a pleading email.
After INSPECTOR JACK POWERS questions Tia, she acknowledges the broken state of her marriage, and her abrogation of responsibility. She wallows in self-pity as her half-brother-in-law DONALD caters to her children. As memories of her mother’s self-destructive behaviour surface she finds the strength to act differently and take back control. Donald’s actions arouse her suspicions. She has never liked him and now believes he is helping Kevin. Instead of waiting around, Tia prepares flyers for posting.
Jack arrives to explain that evidence suggests Kevin has run off with another woman. He offers sympathy, then confesses that his ex-wife did the same. Neither acknowledge their growing attraction.
During her search, Tia unearths Kevin’s hidden bank account and disturbing finances. When she discovers shredded paper, she thinks Kevin returns home in her absence. Her suspicions of Donald increase when he sneaks past her house in disguise.
When Tia finds her flyers in a street bin she challenges Donald who admits helping Kevin to hide from HUGH MORLEY, a released murderer. Twelve-year-old Kevin’s testimony sent Morley to jail twenty-five years earlier, despite memory loss following a knockout punch to the head.
Grateful for the support of her friends JANET and MARY, Tia accepts Janet’s offer of a job. When Tia spots Kevin from her workplace he runs away. Determined to learn more, she visits Kevin’s former teaching colleagues who reveal his affair with an unknown woman.
Anger and betrayal drives Tia, and she joins Jack at the twenty-five-year-old crime scene. It is a replica of Priesthouse and Tia understands Kevin’s paranoia.
I tried to make it exciting so that the agent or publisher wants to read more. Fingers crossed.
How do professionals work? Do they read the synopsis and decide whether they like it enough to read the attached three chapters? In the past, one agent/publisher told me that they liked the story and it was well written but they did not love it.
My first try at this synopsis was sent to an agent along with the requisite three chapters. Looking back at that synopsis I know it is not as good as this one.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.