Mention the word synopsis to any writer, and you'll elicit fear or an overwhelming dread at the thought of having to write one.
I think most authors agree that writing a synopsis is no fun! After we've worked months, or years, to refine and polish our novels, how can we reduce them to 10 pages, five, two or one page, and then whittle them down even further to a paragraph or even a single sentence?
We can't let the synopsis be our enemy. It has to be our friend to help us sell our work. If you're not familiar with what a synopsis is, here's a simple definition: the summary of a novel.
But in summarizing your novel, you want to show that editor, agent or publisher that you can tell a knock down, drag out, darn good story that they're gonna want!
One agent told me that she doesn't read the synopsis until after she's read some of the sample writing sent along with it. So remember, you're writing (the actual novel pages) will always speak louder than the synopsis, because all the synopsis is, is plotting. But regardless, it must be clean, tight and extraordinarily well written!
There are varying lengths for a synopsis, the longer lengths, of course, being the easiest! Sometimes an agent will ask for a "short synopsis." This usually means one to two pages. Page length may or may not be specified. If a "synopsis" is requested (with no page limit mentioned) you're pretty safe to send 5 pages. If a "detailed synopsis" is asked for (with no specifications), up to 10 pages is acceptable.
However, just be sure to carefully read the guidelines of whomever you're submitting to. Some agencies and publishers are very specific about the page length of the synopsis.
The formats for a single page and a multi page document do differ. A one page synopsis is written in block paragraphs with double spaces between paragraphs. More than one page requires the entire document to be double spaced.
Still thinking the task impossible, especially the one sentence synopsis, or one line hook? Read this example from Elizabeth Lyon's The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit: "As the Civil War rages, a woman's passion for the wrong man blinds her to the love of the right one." That's a one line synopsis for Gone With the Wind!
If you're fighting with the idea of writing a synopsis, it's time to stop. As with writing a query, there are lots of great tools out there to help, such as Blythe Camenson's and Marshall J. Cook's Your Novel Proposal, and The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit, mentioned earlier. Visit Charlotte Dillon's website at www.charlottedillon.com/SynopsisSamples.html for some great sample synopses.
Writing a synopsis can be difficult, but it can be done!
Have you written a synopsis for your latest completed work? Are there any other tools you'd like to recommend that have helped you?
Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!