Condensing your writing – why there’s no harm in starting early.

I feel there’s no harm in providing this advice. Writing a synopsis can be time-consuming, but there are multiple benefits to be gained by condensing your work early.

I moaned about how hard it was to condense 80K words to 300, to use your voice, to illustrate your writing style. What I didn’t stress though is what I uncovered.

When you write a synopsis, from what I’ve read online, you have to  also include: setting and age early on, the character’s motivations, the problem, the obstacle, and what need’s to be resolved.  What I found  further from researching loglines is that it’s also important to highlight a contradiction. This helps to  create tension  and an interesting read. eg  control freak who has her choices taken away.

Firstly, I’m from Australia, so it’s important you research how you go about querying or submitting your MS straight to a publisher in your country.

I’m sending my MS to Australian publishers directly and am tailoring my submission to meet their requirements. That doesn’t mean I won’t be contacting agents soon. **UPDATED** I have been informed ( thank you brixmcd13 🙂 ) that when you query an agent, you are to reveal the whole plot in a short synopsis. Please see Christine’s comments regarding the synopsis – you are to reveal the entire plot to publishers as well when a synopsis is requested. I will have to read that book, Christine! I was originally confused by one publishers advice which I misconstrued :S

It won’t hurt to research what the requirements are in your circumstance.

From there you cut the information down further to a blurb (what the reader’s see) , and then a logline ( one sentence summing up the whole book)  and then a tagline ( something you would see to promote a movie for eg.). The shorter it gets, the more difficult it is, and the more intense the themes.

Whether you’re querying an agent or sending to a publisher ( research will help you determine which they require) I believe it wouldn’t hurt to do all of them.


Because it’s amazing what you find. If you keep all those elements in mind that I highlighted above, you find themes you may not even be aware of. This is not only helpful for your summaries, but it will also help you look at your complete work in a new light. Did I emphasise that theme enough? Is that what this book is actually about?

Researching and playing with my blurb,  logline and tagline has helped with my synopsis and to uncover themes. And when I send off my submissions in a week I want to have them completely finished in case somebody asks – can you sum up your book in one sentence?  That one question right there almost scared me off writing a year and a half ago.


10 thoughts on “Condensing your writing – why there’s no harm in starting early.

    • Yep it was rewarding though. And it was interesting to see what is different between the blurb, what readers see, and the synopsis which gives a lot more away.

  1. Two things…first, writing a synopsis before you start your book can be a good idea, it helps you solidify your story. Second..I may have misread, but you weren’t suggesting that with a short synopsis, you leave out the ending, hoping to entice an agent to want to read more, right? Because agents want to know the ending of the story. I don’t think leaving them guessing is a good idea.
    Really enjoy your blog, by the way. Good luck with the querying!

  2. I have a friend who does her synopsis first and i thought how amazing that would be. I would love to be able to do that! With regards to querying, I thought of mentioning that I’m from Australia, and that I’m sending my MS straight to publishers based on their individual requirements ( although its not always clear what they want from the synopsis and I’m still second guessing myself.) I’ll amend now to add your advice for querying, Thank you for the feedback !

  3. “I’m giving enough plot away to entice the publisher to want more” You have to tell them the plot. Apparently, according to “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman, most agents might read your manuscript first – it might only be the first page. If they are interested, they then move to the synopsis – you don’t want to be playing mind games with them. The publisher wants the plot. Else how are they going to guage the story, except by it’s final outcome. And it is best to be straight forward about it, it is not your back cover blurb.

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