Monday, January 31, 2011

Writing a Synopsis or Summary – The Hook

A long time ago (in a blog post far far away) I talked a bit about writing a summary for your query. I’m currently working on a synopsis for book 2 & 3 of my series, so this week is all about the synopsis. I’m going to expand on my previous post and talk about writing a synopsis of your book and provide tips for a summary of a few paragraphs, a few pages, and a full synopsis.

The first thing that you need in a synopsis of any length is a hook. The synopsis is a quick sell of your book and you have to make it as interesting as your story. This is also useful at the beginning of your query. Your hook should be one or two sentences that sum up your story in a fresh and interesting way.

Here’s mine:

Amy has not spoken in three years. Not since They arrived; creatures with incredible hearing, amazing swiftness, and a taste for human flesh. They hunt by sound and Amy has learned to survive in a world of silence.

Mine is three sentences, but I can cut it down to just the first two depending on what I want to use it for. It’s extremely difficult to get the feel of your story across in a few short sentences, but it’s something that you’ll be able to do with a little practice.

Any one else want to share their hooks for their WIPs?

(If people are worried about intellectual property theft, I understand not wanting to share, but I’m almost to submission so if someone thinks they can steal my idea, write an entire manuscript, snag an agent, and get a publisher before me…good freaking luck!)

Next time, more on writing a synopsis.


  1. Actually, I tried to describe my WIP in two sentences last night, and it didn't go so well. It was like three sentences and they were all run ons. So I'll get back to you on that when I have had some more practice...

    I have an excerpt of my WIP on howling Turtle though if you want to check it out!

  2. I'll head over there now to check it out!

  3. I've read the best hook some time ago and it was of one of the most famous Tchechov plays:

    "Three sisters want to go to Moscow. Will they go? No they won't."

    Although it is deceptively easy and you can't fully appreciate it unless you know the play (Cherry Orchard) it makes me somehow as curious as a cat!

  4. Oooh, I'd love to share mine - If I knew what it was yet LOL! Maybe I'll hop on back over when I get it written:)

  5. Your hook has definitely hooked me! I'm working on crafting my hook, and this is very helpful--thank you!

  6. Anachronist - That is an interesting made me smile...I'm assuming it's a translated play.

    Lindsay - Love to hear it when you finish your manuscript. Good luck with the writing.

    Meredith - hook has gone through quite a few rewrites, but I'm pretty pleased with this version.

  7. That's a really helpful article, I was never really sure what a hook should look like, and yours really does 'hook' the reader. :)

  8. .it made me smile...I'm assuming it's a translated play.

    You assumption is correct - the play is in Russian but it has been translated into many languages, English too.

  9. What a great post. Getting that hook has been very difficult for me. As I am re-writing my WIP now, I'll have to come back with the hook when it's done!

  10. Fantastic hook! I want to read!

  11. WOW. Your hook is awesome, awesome, awesome. Sounds way cool! And you crack me up! It's definitely too late for someone to steal your idea. You're almost there! LOL.

  12. Your hook makes me want to read the book. I'll share my opening sentences,but they still need work.

    For five years years, Celeste Davies has racked up one personal crisis after another. She leaves Jamaica, determined to flee a disastrous situation and reinvent herself. But circumstances conspire against her in the form of Mark Weekes, who makes it difficult to remember why she swore off men and relationships.

  13. Thanks guys...I really did spend a lot of time reworking that hook, I'm glad it paid off. It's funny to put so much effort into three little sentences.

    J.L. - I want to meet this Mark guy :)

  14. I love a good hook line, and you seem to be on par with yours! Comes in handy when those agents are having contests. :)

  15. Wow Demitria! That sounds incredible! I am indeed hooked!!

  16. I haven't even done a query yet. So I have no synopsis.

    I like yours though. Definitely a hook.

  17. I've got a few synopsis versions saved away...

    My hook for my work in progress:

    "A group of terrorists work to start a war in the Middle East by striking at the heart of faith. A group of spies must stop them."

  18. After reading this post, I think my first paragraph is my hook. lol I dreamed it up last night, actually.

    Here is a rough version:

    The first person Miranda killed was her sister; the second was her mother. It couldn’t be proven, but Miranda knew it to be true. Her father never blamed her, but learned early on that the truth could never be discovered, needing to protect her at all cost. Which he did… for a while.

    This is for the YA Fantasy I am currently working on.