I know they're evil, but they're a conquerable evil.
- Keep your synopses down to two pages (unless the agent or editor you're sending it to specifies otherwise)
- Your synopsis should be single-spaced, with a double space between paragraphs
- Have your title, author name, and word count on top as a header
- And don't forget, in a synopsis you're clear to give away the ending, in fact, you need to.
And writers are not alone in their hatred of synopsis - most agents don't enjoy reading them either. Just in case you think we're trying to torture you, that's not actually the case. Even the
sweet and benevolent bunny mean and sharkly Janet Reid doesn't torture for the sake of torture. There's always a reason.
- Here it is: Synopses save time.
- When agents or editors have to share your manuscript with colleagues, they're talking it up with professionals who don't have a lot of time outside their own clients, so when we're trying to get some attention and in house excitement, we can give colleagues the manuscript and a synopsis. That way, they can read the beginning and then see what happens to get a feel for both the writing and the story.
- Synopses are also useful for subrights. Film agents and producers often ask for "coverage" which is their version of a synopsis.
The most important thing you need to know about a synopsis: It's ALLOWED to be boring. It's actually supposed to be boring.
How to Attack Your Synopsis
- Think of it like a book report (you can even practice by doing a synopsis for one of your favorite books)
- Tell the facts that your readers need to know about your manuscript
- Remember your actual writing in the manuscript will determine whether or not an agent is going to sign you - not the synopsis
- List all of the major characters that are essential to the manuscript
- Avoid Character Soup - we don't need to know every minor character who's part of the story, just the characters who are essential to the protagonist's journey
- List all of the major plot points that are essential to the main plot line and thus the manuscript
- Avoid talking about the Theme or the moral of your story. Just stick to the plot.
- Looking at both of your lists, reexamine and cross off anything that isn't essential. Then put it together in narrative form and you should have a synopsis.