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Monday, April 22, 2013

S: Synopsis ....

I think that picture just about sums it up .... :)

Ok, writing a synopsis isn't so bad -- once you get into it, and figure out what your doing, and convince yourself that it's OK not to explain the sub plots, and make yourself deal with how dry it all sounds, and give in to the reality that you have to give up the ending, and somehow make your creative-self condense 200 pages into 2 pages .... other than that, it's a breeze!

I received so much advice about writing a synopsis when I sent out a "help me" call to all my writing people. So I'm going to share a bit here - just like I did on my query post!

Some suggestions:

Take each chapter and writing down in 1-2 sentences exactly what that chapter is about. Then put those few sentences all together. Then fill in pieces to make it flow smoothly and tada - you have your synopsis. (trust me, this is easier said than done but it can actually really simplify the process super fast! I highly recommend starting here.)

Forget the sub plot - agents want to know the up front plot involving only main characters

Only name the main characters, or anyone who is VITAL to the main plot line

Be sure to tell the ending! A synopsis cannot have a cliff hanger ending - they want to know it all

Do Not make the synopsis read "and then ..... and then ...."

Imagine your friend came into a movie 5 minutes from the end and you have to do a super fast sum-up for them before the big finale, that's how your story should read. (Exciting, energetic, but straight forward story-line in as few words as possible)

If the synopsis request is for 1-2 pages, you may single space it. If the request is for more pages, then double space them.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check the submission guidelines to see if they specify how they want the synopsis formatted!

Well that's how it worked for me. I wrote, rewrote, cried, and rewrote again my synopsis. But I got it done, I got it into 2 pages, and I sent if off. So here's to hoping! And good luck to you too!


  1. I have the hardest time justifying synopses for fiction. Oh, I'll write them if I have to--but all the time I'm thinking "why why why why??!" If an agent loves my query, loves my writing, and think the idea for the novel is worth investing in, then request pages. If the agent is that excited, s/he can request a full. A good agent will know within the first few paragraphs if the writing's not as good as the query advertized. And s/he won't have to finish the entire MS to notice if the plot's going astray. In other words, the chances of a good agent getting to the end of a MS and saying "that wasn't what I expected and I'm devastatingly disappointed" is, from my understanding, slim. If they've got to the end, it's because the writing was so good, and the story so compelling, s/he wanted to read to the end. If the agent isn't sold by then, I would wager it isn't because of the writing or the story.

    If I'm right, then what's the purpose of a synopsis for fiction? Sure, you get an overview of the complete main plot, but that doesn't say anything about the author's ability to handle dialog, or write fast paced/deeply emotional prose. An agent isn't going to sign an author based on a synopsis!

    I just don't get it.

    And I know of some agents who feel the same way, so I know it's not just me.

    OK, rant over. Thanks for letting me vent, Rebecca! :)

    1. Ha ha ha ha, You are welcome to vent any time! I'm almost certain there are a lot of people who feel like that about writing a synopsis. There are times that it does seem extremely pointless. But when an agent asks, we got to be ready to deliver :) However, you have made a valid point and I appreciate when people bring opinions to my blog. It makes it interesting and makes me think! And I like thinking .... ;)

  2. Nope, sorry, Collin. I found out a couple of weeks ago that I got a manuscript accepted on the query, the (single page) synopsis and the first few pages of the story. So writing a killer synopsis on a piece of fiction is just as important as writing that hook and perfect first page.

  3. Sometimes it helps to write the synopsis before starting the novel.

    1. Very true! I did that with my latest novel to get an idea of where I'm going and if the plot. But it could be that it turns out completely different in the end ;) Still, it's a good starting point.


Thank you for your comments!