What makes a good synopsis?
The synopsis has total power over a reader's choice to buy the book or not. So what do readers like to see in the jacket flap? What sells the book?
1: The First Sentence
The first sentence should be intriguing... It should be interesting enough for a reader to finish reading the synopsis. It's best if the first sentence does not dive straight into details, but rather introduces the strongest point of the story in an original manner.
The synopsis should not be a plot outline. A reader does not want to skim the synopsis and be able to predict the entire outcome of the story. It's kind of a tricky situation... but there needs to be just enough info about the plot. Enough to get the reader hooked and wanting more, yet leaving some things unknown, establishing a mystery that the reader will only be able to answer by reading the novel.
3: The Love Story
Many readers like every book to have a little love story, especially in YA literature. So what's the best way to execute this? If the entire book isn't solely a love story... the synopsis should not give away the name of the love interest. It's so much more fun for the reader to watch the characters fall in love with out any pre-determined notions or feelings. If the love interest is described in the synopsis, it should not only use words such as "handsome, beautiful, striking", etc. Those descriptions lead the reader to believe the only substance to the relationship is physical attraction. Which, for some readers may be appealing, but not for readers like me. :)
There are millions of books, therefore millions of synopses. Something different is something appealing. If you look at all the jacket flaps for paranormal romances, you'll notice that pretty much all of them follow a familiar outline... eventually, the entire story can be predicted by reading the synopsis (which is not enjoyable for the reader). I have often encountered the phrase "inexplicably attracted", which not only gives away the romance element of the story, but is so overused that I am immediately turned off the book. I know it's difficult to make something stand out in a sea of millions, but the truth of the matter is that originality sells. Synopses are almost like commercials... people are annoyed with the product if the commercial is not original and entertaining. Seeing too many alike commercials is exasperating.
5: The Last Sentence
The last sentence is just as important as the first. Everything boils down to this one group of words. Its job? To sell. There are two kinds of ideal last sentences. One pulls into play the mystery factor; ends the synopsis with a question or thought-provoking idea that the reader won't be able to figure out without reading the book. The other states the strongest points of the story that will appeal to readers the most.
What is your idea of a perfect synopsis? What gets you hooked?