I've actually been teaching writers how to craft successful synopses for awhile now. So we're going to start off with a vocabulary lesson because I speak Frankie...which is a little bit French, a little Latin and totally gibberish.
Synopsis(ses): synopses is the plural form of synopsis. Synopsis is a shortened version of your book, kind of like a blurb, but longer and you give the ending away.
Plot Point (PP): A plot point, later referred to as PP, is a major climatic event in the structural plot line.
Structural Plot (SP): The structural plot, later referred to as the SP, is the story line that pushes the characters into action. It’s the murder that needs to be solved, or the prophecy that needs fulfilled.
Character Plot (CP): The character plot, later referred to as the CP, is the story line that makes the character grow. It’s the female mc and the male mc getting together, or the mc overcoming all odds to fulfill the prophecy, or the mc facing her fears in order to solve the murders.
Transitional Actions (TA): The transitional actions is the action or the road that takes the characters from PP 1 to PP 2. Example: PP1: Beth is on a ship for the Americas to marry a man she’s never met. PP2: She stranded on an island with Dread Pirate Bill. What’s the transitional action that got Beth from a boat in relative safety to being stranded on an island with a pirate? TA1: The storm that crashed Beth’s ship and Bill’s ship together, smashed them on the rocks, and left her and him stranded along with Bill’s crew, which is now holding Beth’s crew hostage.
I think that’s all of the vocabulary lessons we need.
What makes most synopses fail? Well, a number of things.
1. Too many plot points.
2. It’s confusing. We don’t know how or why we’re going from one PP to the next.
3. It’s jarring to read.
4. It’s boring.
5. There are too many characters.
What makes a good synopsis successful?