Pitch and plot with Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers, saw Grrrl Con attendees get a crash course in how to refine their synopsis and pitch it, even in just one concise sentence. With everyone asked to prepare a 200 word synopsis ahead of the event, it was an hour not only to improve how you describe your work, but become excited by quite how many excellent ideas are bubbling away, ready to be written. Most of the hour was spent delving into these wonderful ideas, with lots learned along the way.
“Don’t ever lie, but make it exciting.”
“Tell them what book you’re writing,” she says. When a book is bought and edited, other people get their say – but right now, with the synopsis, it’s yours and you can say exactly what you want with it. But what is plot? It’s the thing that drives character development. You start with characters, a bunch of stuff happens to them, they’ve changed. You have to convey this journey.
The three things to convey in your synopsis are the character arc, type of book you’re writing, and its unique selling point. People need to understand what it’s similar to, but then you give them a reason why yours is different. Tell them how it evolves. Keep sentences short and factual.
Start with characters – consider the emotional conflict, and think about how that impacts the story. Take out words like ‘ordinary’. “You have to tell the truth in a synopsis – don’t ever lie, but make it exciting.”
The synopsis can come in a number of formats: chapter by chapter, one or two pages – always make sure to read agent or publisher guidelines for submission. Think deeply about what you’re trying to say with your book, and make sure to include a plot resolution. They need to know where it’s going – how you resolve it makes or breaks a book.