Thursday, November 15, 2007

Should I Give Away the Ending?

by Heather Moore

When I was a newbie, it would have killed me to give away the end of the book in a synopsis. As a reader, I never read the end first . . . so combining the two together, it seemed that if I gave away the end of my book in a synopsis I was going to ruin the reading experience.

But agents want to know the end. Recently I read a blog written by Nathan Bransford, an agent with Curtis Brown Literary. Bransford recommends that a synopsis be 2-3 pages, double spaced, unless otherwise specified by an agent or editor.

Bransford’s excellent advice includes:
“A synopsis is not an opportunity to talk about every single character and every single plot point in a "and then this happened and then this happened" fashion. A synopsis needs to do two things: 1) it needs to cover all of the major characters and major plot points (including the ending) and 2) it needs to make the work come alive. If your synopsis reads like "and then this happened and then this happened" and it's confusing and dull, well, you might want to revise that baby.”

Bransford also said, “A good place to start for a model on how to write a good synopsis is to mimic book cover copy, only also include in the synopsis what happens in the end.”

As a published writer, I understand that it’s important to be able to write a concise synopsis of your novel. Once you have a synopsis nailed down, it’s easier to write a hook or a pitch, and of course that query letter.

With my publisher, I turn in a synopsis to the editor after the book has been accepted. This synopsis goes to the committee and gives them the insight they need to position and market the book. Also the backliner and marketing blurbs are easier to put together with a handy synopsis. Like Josi, I write the synopsis after I’ve finished the manuscript. Too many things can change if you write it while your book is still in progress. Josi also cautioned writers against holding back what happens at the end of their novels.

So, to make a long blog short. Go ahead. Spill the ending.


A. Riley said...

I'm feeling a little stuck on my novel I'm writing right now. Maybe I'll try and come up with a synopsis and see if that can spark some ideas in my head.

Heather B. Moore said...

I did that with a suspense book I wrote. Even though it later changed, it did help.

Rachelle said...

Thanks for the great suggestions. I've always worried about making my synopsis too long, but if I have 2-3 pages that will be a little easier.

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this, kathleen :)