So I've slogged through my epic masterpiece fiction novel thingy (kidding, it's a regular old paranormal romance) and I'm now sitting down to write the synopsis. And I've found plenty of advice online about how I need to cut out the details and leave just the bare-bones plot, but I'm finding it a challenge to pare things out without making the main characters sound like they have no motivation for their actions. I was very careful to craft a tight plot in which Event A influences Character B which causes him to do Action C - so if I leave out Event A, Character B seems like he just wanders around doing C for no reason at all. I'm worried the agents who have requested the synopsis will ask the obvious question ("Why on earth wouldn't he just do D instead?") and assume I don't know how to write.
What's your take on this? Do you ask for synopses from your authors? I'm finding this particularly difficult with the paranormal events in my story, because I could easily spent a page or two explaining my world's magic and its limitations (which affect why the characters do what they do) and I kinda suspect that's the part all these internet gurus are suggesting I cut . . .
I hate synopses. They are the spawn of Satan. But yes, all my authors do them because at some point, I'll need it.
The point of a synopsis is not to explain much. It's to show what happens. It is not intended to be lyrical beautiful writing. In fact, if you try to do that you'll go nuts because the point of a synopsis is to show what happens in the book in one or two pages. It's like a book report from a third grader. This happens, then that.
So, you don't explain motivation. You say Event A influences Character B and thus he does C. We're not looking to nitpick "why doesn't he do D" here. We just need to know he does C.
Don't explain the world of magic. Don't explain the limitations. Simply set the scene.
Here's an example from Trickster by Jeff Somers:
Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own.
What you don't see here is the effect that has on Lem, and I assure you there is one. We don't need that fact in the synopsis. We just need to know that magic requires blood and Lem only uses his own...right up until Event A in fact!
Simple declarative sentences are the key.