Friday, June 17, 2011

Romantic Suspense Debut Author Raquel Byrnes Talks Killer Synopses

Today I'm excited to have debut author Raquel Byrnes visiting today. Raquel's inspirational romantic suspense Purple Knot was released June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. She's here to share tips on a subject I fear as much as the Dread Pirate Roberts--writing a synopsis, GASP!

Without further ado, here's Raquel and her advice on

How a Killer Synopsis Can Keep You from the Slush Pile

Writing a synopsis is one of the most grueling and intimidating aspects of the submission process. Query letters are easy compared to the dreaded 3-4 page synopsis that goes with your proposal. But this mini-novel is a very important part of the pitch for your manuscript. So making it the best you can possibly create is essential.

Not all agents or publishers accept the same type of synopsis. Some require a one-page, while others would like an "Extended Synopsis" of three or four pages. Check the submission requirements on their website.

A synopsis is generally written in PRESENT tense, THIRD PERSON. This is regardless of your novel's POV. Follow the voice of your book, it’s the first taste of your writing that the agent gets.

There are specific formatting guidelines. Your synopsis should be single spaced. In the top left-hand corner, the header should have your book title and your name. You may also want to add the genre and word count.

There are 3 main sections to your synopsis: The Hook, The Background, and The Stakes.

The Hook
Start with an exciting statement. What is the character's major dilemma or conflict? How might they react? You worry over the first sentence of your the same over your synopsis.

The Background
Introduce your character with just enough info to make things clear. Who is the book about? What kind of person are they? Make sure they are sympathetic to your reader. Make them care what happens.

The Stakes
These are your plot points; only list the MAJOR ones. List the public AND private stakes. Show how they escalate. Create tension.

A synopsis is NOT where you have cliff-hangers or questions. It is the whole story.

Finally, don't forget punctuation and grammar. This is a professional pitch for your product...polish it up.

The important thing to keep in mind is this represents you as an author, so take the time to make it as clear, concise, and professional as possible.

Thanks so much Raquel for sharing your tips on successful synopsis writing. And beaucoup wishes for success with Purple Knots.

A killer strikes. A love rekindled. A life-altering choice.

When her best friend, is murdered, Reyna Cruz doesn't believe the police have the whole story. An investigator by trade, she has the talent to track Summer’s killer, but when clues lead to a family connection and a vicious gang, she suddenly becomes the hunted. At the end of her rope, Reyna must decide to trust the God she believes abandoned her. 

Wanting justice for his sister’s murder, lawyer Jimmy Corbeau agrees to help Reyna—even though she’s his ex-fiancĂ©, and their break-up devastated him. Romance is reawakened, but so are memories of their tragic undoing. Jimmy must decide if he will fight for a future with Reyna or allow their past to derail the investigation and his second chance at love.

When the investigation goes awry and Summer’s infant daughter is kidnapped, Reyna must put her life on the line. Will Jimmy and Reyna survive the desperate measures it takes to recover his niece, catch a killer, and secure a happily-ever-after for them all?

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. You can visit her at her website:  and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance.

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Shakespeare said...

Okay, so THIS is going on my desktop. I'm still revising the novels, getting them ready for agents' eyes, but I need to know all of this, too!


Laura Marcella said...

Hi, Kristal! I like how you mentioned the Dread Pirate Roberts, LoL!

Great tips here, Raquel! I have not had to write a synopsis, but I've written plenty of synopsis-like pages for my college classes. You know, that pre-research paper mumbo jumbo, blah! Though no writer seems to think synopsis is fun, it seems like it's a good thing, not only for the agent/editor it's for, but to help the writer see her story with as little frills as possible. I think I might try it when I'm halfway through my novel, just to see how I think it's coming along!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah, not good when one's synopsis is full of grammar mistakes! Great tips, Raquel.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Dread Pirate Roberts! Love it, Kristal.

Great points, Raquel.

Thank you, ladies!

Dora Hiers said...

Great post, Raquel! Squeezing everything into a one-page synopsis is definitely challenging.

Congrats on your release of PURPLE KNOT. I can't wait to read it!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Shakespeare - That is awesome. Good luck on your queries!

Alex - Hey there! Thank you!

Dawn - Isn't Kristal great.

Dora - Thank you so much!

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