One of the hardest things for me to write is a novel synopsis. I find it even harder than query letter, almost harder than writing the entire novel.
When I begin, it always seems close to impossible to sum up the main points of a novel in one to two pages. The summary that I wrote up before I began writing the novel doesn't fit anymore, and the scene by scene outline I often keep as I write is too detailed. So now what?
Focus on main characters and main plot events. When I get sidetracked by subplots, there's too much information. Too many characters just makes it confusing.
Pretend to tell a friend. If I write about the story as though I'm explaining it to a friend in a letter (or even a critique buddy), it comes more naturally than if I try work from scene summaries. Once I have something down, I can go back later to make sure the events are ordered correctly.
Include a sprinkling of unique details. Not too many, because the point of a synopsis is to show the plot of the story. But a key detail here and there adds some flavour that makes it easier to read than an boring list of events.
I think that's what makes writing the synopsis so challenging. In its essence, it is a list of events. But it needs to be written to highlight and emphasize what's important about those events, using as few words as possible while still capturing the story momentum.
Do you have any good tips for writing a synopsis?