Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

I do not enjoy synopsis writing.

I realise this doesn’t exactly make me unique – very few writers do, I’ve found. But for me, the hardest part has always been trying to condense my sprawling, nuanced story into a couple of pages of coherent narrative. So I’ve started doing something new.

I write the synopsis first.

Now, this method brings with it its own problems and complications. For one, however much I plan my stories in advance, they always change when I write them. Sometimes subtly, sometimes fundamentally. Either way, the pre-written synopsis is never going to accurately reflect my finished book.

But what it does do it remind me what was important when I started writing, what were the key points that made the story work for me. I can see the scenes where things change, the main characters’ arcs, the line of the love story, the all important climax. And I can see them clearly, because they’re not bogged down in the subplots and supporting cast that inevitably twist and turn through the finished novel, so intertwined that I can’t pull them out to find the heart of the story any more.

So while the pre-written synopsis will need updating, tweaking, changing before it can serve its purpose, for me, that’s far, far easier than having to write it from scratch once I’ve edited and polished the book. It gives me a guideline to work within. And having it on hand when I’m revising serves to remind me exactly what matters most in the book – something I sometimes need when I’m elbow deep in manuscript pages covered in red ink!

So, a question for the writers – how do you handle writing the Dreaded Synopsis?