I call a synopsis of a book essential because this summary is packed with the essence of the story. Whether it’s aimed at non-fiction or a novel, a synopsis is an important tool to use in selling your writing. It also has benefit to you during the writing. Re-creating your synopsis, once every few weeks, lets you restate and polish what your work is designed to accomplish.
Over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, Chuck Samubchino serves up an example about how to craft a complex synopsis: one with lots of characters. This is the mission for my novel Viral Times, which sports seven main characters. Five are important enough to have their own first person POV during the book. The action happens on three major locales.
Samubchino uses the example of creating a complex synopsis for the movie Traffic. This is a film bristling with characters and varied settings. He uses a good technique, organizing the story by setting. There are three major locales in Traffic, and his synopsis covers each setting with three paragraphs each, such as “In Mexico:” Yes, just nine paragraphs. You have to keep it short, no matter how long the book is on a final draft.
You’re unlikely to get something useful for a synopsis after a first draft. So this task, which is useful if you’re selling your book or publishing it yourself, is also an exercise in rewriting.