Get Your Synopsis Firing

As I promised at the start, I have now uploaded a synopsis of one of my published novels, Annihilation Squad. Lots of first-time writers ask what goes into a synopsis, so here’s something to look at. However, there are some things to bear in mind with this one:

  • This gives a complete breakdown of the plot. If you haven’t read Annihilation Squad, there are major spoilers in a synopsis that you might not want to know about.
  • This novel was the third in a series, along with some short stories. This means that the major characters, style and themes had already been established in the earlier titles and aren’t covered in detail here. For the same reason there is no writing sample included.
  • Things change! Some events are quite different in the synopsis when compared to the final novel. Some of this was pre-planned in consultation with the editors. Some of it was evolution during the writing process. However, if you do find yourself deviating in a major way work out why this is and, if the book is already commissioned, discuss this with your editor. Don’t go off mission without realising it, or you might not get back on track. Also, editors really don’t like you arbitrarily changing a story that they’ve already agreed to!
  • There are typos. I get away with that sort of thing these days. Really you should make sure the synopsis is spell-checked at the least. This is especially true of your first efforts – if the synopsis is very poorly writtern an editor may not even make it to the writing sample. Not only does this make a better impression, it’s a good habit to have. Treat all of your writing, even emails and texts, as if they were going to be read publicly.
  • Length can vary tremendously. This one is quite short compared to some of the synopsises I’ve written. That’s mainly due to the straightforward plots used in the Last Chancers stuff. A synopsis can be several thousand words in length if necessary. Each writer and project requires its own level of preparation and detail. Even within one novel some parts may be quite well-planned and intricate, others more loose and written on-the-fly.


PS I now have a new shiny red car. Hurrah!

PPS It is very shiny.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I greatly appreciate you sharing this out, it’s very educational to study. I’ve always had somewhat of an idea of how different authors approach the writing process, but seeing how the above synopsis gives the structure for the story so that you always have goals of what you are leading each part towards, yet retains the freedom for you to fill in how you want your characters to get to those goals, all seems incredibly beneficial in organizing the writing process. Though I have no doubts that it can be at times frustrating and complex. Not to mention that a writer would have to check now and then to make sure they are not getting too off-track from the original plan.

    Though that makes me want to ask the question, Gav, of whether you’ve ever found yourself heading off-track, but in doing so realize that what you are writing seems to be a better idea then the original? And if so, have the editors been happy with the change?


  2. Congratulations on the new car and its much shiningness!
    I was always told that a Synopsis can be done both first or last- First if you need to sell the idea or need to give yourself a guideline or goal to aspire to, last if you feel uncertain and have no deadlines to meet or aren’t ready to sell, etc.
    I understand that both have their advantages and disadvantages, so what have you found to work best for you, Gav?


  3. I just say that it is an awesome text. And surely this example will help a couple (surely more!) fan-writers to better their writings. (may be even me)


  4. I have to say that your inclusion of the synopsis is one of the most useful tips on writing I have found on the web. Brilliant move, pal.

    Best Regards,



  5. Its very useful, the bits and bobs you leave for us, like a mouse i suspect. How is your mousy friend, did you ever catcher him?


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