I often get asked how to write a synopsis because it seems like such a gargantuan task to take a whole book and write a small thing to entice people to buy. Yet I do it every time I review a book because, frankly, I don’t like most of the synopses that I find on Amazon.

Why You Need A Synopsis

A synopsis or blurb is the second tool that you need in order to sell your book. The first tool is the cover and the third tool is chapter one.

Large publishing houses understand how important the synopsis is and so they will often hire a professional to write them. In an industry as small as the lesbian fiction sector, though, authors tend to write them. Often authors write them before they write the book as a tool to interest the publisher and then the synopsis doesn’t get reviewed when the book is published. The problem with this practice is that the book you started out writing is rarely the exact book you end up with leaving the reader feeling cheated because the book is not what she expected.

I would like to help authors to break down the story into something that works by sharing  a little formula that I use:

1 Who Are The Main Characters?

You need to understand who the main plot or plots revolve around and what drives these characters.

Start your synopsis with an intro to them.

2 What Goes Wrong?

Now you need the incident that changes everything. What happens to shake things up? A loved one dies, a job is lost, a chance meeting of the main characters.

Discuss this incident without spoilers.

3 What Are The Stakes?

What is on the line if they change the status quo? What can go wrong? Why are they afraid?

4 What’s The Big Question?

Then end with the big question that will make readers pick up the book. This is generally a summary of what goes wrong and the stakes – for example – Will Character A see the tender heart that beats beneath Character B’s rough exterior or will Character B drive her away and end any chance they have for happiness?

Here are two examples of how I have used this concept:

Force Of Nature by Kim Baldwin

Gable is a volunteer firefighter. One day a tornado destroys a house and Gable is the only one on the scene to help Erin, a woman trapped in the debris. The tornado’s sweeping devastation means that help can’t arrive until morning.

Erin is terrified of small spaces and the dark but the night spent trapped is made bearable by the soothing presence and voice of Gable, a stranger who keeps her company until help arrives. Gable is called away before Erin is pulled free and so the two don’t meet face to face.

When Gable does return, Erin isn’t there and no one can tell her where she can find her.

What will happen when they are finally able to meet, will they discover that there is something more there than just common interests and beliefs?

Secret Hearts by Radclyffe

Kip Kensington get’s caught in a vehicle that her younger brother ‘borrowed from a friend’ (stole). She keeps his secret and is sentenced to do 400 hours of community service, assigned to a community garden project in the middle of town.

Kip has always been her brother’s protector, ever since the night when she was a child and a terrible accident happened.

Jordan Rice has a settled life. She has finally managed to get her community garden project running and is working on a plan to create a garden that will be the heart of the city. She longs for more funds and more hands to help but is determined to make the most of her situation.

When Kip and Jordan meet it is explosive and even though they have an initial misunderstanding, the chemistry between them is undeniable. However, Kip is a lot younger than Jordan and that can only mean trouble, especially when big men in dark suits show up to take Kip for a chat.

Can the women find a way to sort through the secrets and the past that haunts Kip? Is attraction really enough?

And that is how you write a synopsis that makes sense to readers and that will give people a good idea what your book is about.