You can look at writing a synopsis in one of two ways: 1) the worst book report you’ll ever write or 2) a tool your agent could use when your book is on submission. Option 2 puts a little more sunshine on it, so I’m going with that one.
Every where I checked the requirements for a synopsis varied. You will have to check with each agent individually to determine what they want (the majority said 2-3 pages, but I found a couple that said 5-8…yikes!)
How Your Synopsis Should be Written
- Most guidelines suggest third person, present tense.
- It should “sound” like your book, your voice should be evident.
- It should include all main characters and major plot points woven together in a summary.
- It should not read like a list. (ie Then this happened, and this, while they were doing this)
- It should include your climax and conclusion.
How To Make Your Synopsis “Good” (I’m not saying that mine is…these are just the suggestions I found online)
- Just like your query, it should start with a hook.
- You must show the conflict early and often!
- Characters must be real, identifiable. This does not mean it should include dialogue.
- The last few paragraphs should resolve the conflict.
How To Actually WRITE Your Synopsis
- Study book jackets. The flaps have a quick synopsis you can use as a model.
- Outline all of your major plot points. Scan through your document and take notes on what happens where.
- Either use the hook from your query or determine that it won’t work. (FYI, mine didn’t. It was too narrow).
- Include the points that make your book interesting including crises and relationships.
- Send it to your crit partners.
- Ignore it for two weeks (or two days, or two hours, depending on your deadline).
- Start again.
Other random thoughts:
- One agent said, “Don’t worry. It will probably be the worst writing you ever do.”
- If an agent requests pages and a synopsis, always attach the pages first! Most agents would prefer to read pages.
- If your query is good and your pages are good, your synopsis will not destroy your chance of getting a full manuscript request.
- After you’re signed you may be asked to write a synopsis to help your agent with their “pitch.”
Just like writing a novel, you can’t make your synopsis better until you actually write it! So get to work.
I will now take my own advice and head off to work on mine.
Some helpful links: