Writing the Mystery Synopsis

It’s Labor Day here in the USA and any writer will tell you…writing a synopsis is hard labor. After checking multiple author websites, and my own writing manual (free PDF here) I have refreshed my memory on exactly how to organize one. These tricky summaries of plot are basically story outlines in sentence form.

No subplots. Few characters, just the main one (or two). Include all major plot twists and/or turning points and spell out the ending with a super spoiler. Also, make the first sentence a sensational hook. And, use the voice of your book, so if it’s comic, write a funny synopsis. If it’s dark, write a spooky one.

That’s my best advice plus a wing and a prayer. Why am I putting myself through this grueling process? I want to get eyes on my work and Pitch Wars! has agents, editors and authors looking at synopsis and first chapter near the end of September. The window is only open for a few days. There’s still time, but not a whole lot of it.

Today I’m working on the synopsis with an eye toward sending it to my Michigan Sister in Crime Pitch Wars! partner, Zoe. We have already vetted each other’s first chapters. 🙂 Believe it or not, writing the synopsis is harder. Particularly when you have to do it all on one page, which is what Pitch Wars! asks for.

Lucky for me, Al has the day off and he’s barbecuing dinner.

Pitch Wars!

“Nobody wants to read women over thirty.” So Becky Masterman learned when she sent her first Brigid Quinn novel out to agents. That changed a few years later, at least for Masterman. She’s now published four Brigid Quinn crime novels, and I am hooked. Also, Masterman inspired me to try to write my own older character.

My current publisher has never said no to any of the six books I’ve published with them. I’m not sure how they will like Jane’s age (55). I would sure like to read more smart and strong older female characters like Brigid. I can’t find any. I wrote Jane as much for myself as I did for anyone. Since I’m almost finished with her story, I’ve decided on a pain-free way to show the manuscript to agents and editors.

Pitch Wars is new to me. Another member of Michigan Sisters in Crime sent out a call for someone to partner up with for this competition and I responded. It’s been a long time since I wrote a book proposal, which is what you do for Pitch Wars. I want to know, for better or worse, what the reaction will be to my older heroine. Is there still resistance to older female characters?

If so, I don’t get it. Baby boomer’s average age is 57. Many boomers are retired. More time for reading. We already know women out-read men by a wide margin. So the target audience for older female characters with grit and grace seems to be ready and waiting. I know I am. If you have any favorite older female characters (I already know about Miss Marple :)) please let me know in the comments.

Am I just quirky and out there? Or are other baby boomer readers also longing for main characters closer to their own age?

I’ll let you know what I hear about my older heroine from the publishing sector after Pitch Wars ends in late September. I’m interested in what they have to say about Jane. Interested and a little nervous.