How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by Bryan Cohen is highly readable and packed with excellent, actionable advice that can really improve your synopses.
Bryan has years of copy writing experience which he brings to the fore in this engaging and densely packed how-to book.
Now, just to be clear, Bryan believes (and I’m sure he’s right) that the synopsis is only one of four parts that should go into your book description as it appears on Amazon and other retailers. These are:
- Selling paragraph
- Call to action
This book focuses on the second of those items, namely the synopsis.
What I like about How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis is just how detailed and specific it is. As a good copy writer himself, Bryan doesn’t waste words. Instead, he gets straight down to brass tacks with advice that you can implement immediately.
The 11 chapters in the book are:
- The Synopsis Mindset
- What’s the Point of the Synopsis?
- How Do I Simplify My Plot?
- What’s Important Enough to Include?
- How Do I Make It Sound Good?
- How Do I Make My Synopsis Grow From Beginning to End?
- How Do I End Things with a Bang?
- What’s a Step-by-Step System I Can Use for My Synopsis?
- How Do I Edit My Synopsis?
- How Long Should My Synopsis Be, Where Should I Use It, and Other Common Considerations
- What Else Goes Into the Description?
His basic premise is that you don’t want to get too detailed in your synopsis because to do so is liable to confuse or bore the potential customer. The primary function of the synopsis is to sell your book, and to do that you have to give people “identifiable characters” and an “emotional connection”.
Having identified the goal of the synopsis, he then lays out clear advice on how to achieve that goal.
I won’t go into all the details here because you’d be better off buying the book and reading it for yourself. But suffice to say that Bryan gives very sound advice on what to include, what not to include and how best to structure the synopsis for maximum impact.
I was particularly impressed with Chapter 5 – How Do I Make It Sound Good? In this chapter Bryan discusses the rhythm of language and the sounds of words. He talks about the importance of varying sentence length to retain reader focus and how certain words carry more emotional weight than others. He acknowledges that this chapter might be a bit too detailed for some authors, but I believe that as writers we should all pay attention to the quality of our prose, and this is a guy who really knows his stuff, so listen up people!
The book contains great examples, showing you how not to write a synopsis as well as how to do it. Chapter 7 – How Do I End Things with a Bang? tackles cliffhangers and has examples in many different genres, demonstrating that not every cliffhanger has to be a literal life and death situation…
Chapter 8 – What’s a Step-by-Step System I Can Use for My Synopsis? is really the crux of the whole book, but you shouldn’t jump ahead without digesting the previous chapters because you need to understand the why and the wherefore before you jump into the how to.
To get the most out of the book I diligently did the exercises at the end of each chapter. Taking Bryan’s advice, I drafted and then refined a synopsis for the novel I’m currently working on. I can hand on heart say that the synopsis I produced whilst working through this book got better and better the more I incorporated the lessons I was learning. I will definitely revisit the synopses of my published novels with these guidelines in mind.
Get your copy of How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis here.
This blog post was originally published on The Good Writer. All book links are affiliate links, thank you.