Synopsis, anyone?

So, I've been reading through the archives of Janet Reid's blog (she has a Miss Snark-ish feel, for anyone else still in withdrawl, though it seems her beverage of choice is whiskey, not gin...) Anyway... she lists a few things that you, author and prospective client, should have at the ready when you are querying. One of these is a synopsis.

I've done lots of research on writing queries, but advice on synopses seems to elude me. Can anyone point me toward some great tips? It seems like synopsis length requirements vary widely by agent. And I'm still not sure if they just want a couple of pages saying: First this happens, then this, blah blah blah... or if it should be more of a table along the lines of:

Chapter One: two sentences summarizing chapter one
Chapter Two: ditto

I know some of you have written these!! Any words of wisdom?!



Melissa Marsh said...

Urgh. Synopsis. Bad. Evil.

Ok, ok, they're a NECESSARY evil, but still, a pain to write.

There's tons of info out there on the 'Net about writing these darn things - I'd just google it and see what you come up with. Personally, I'm thinking about ditching the whole "how to write" and just sitting down, typing up how my story goes, and then go back and tailor it to how each agent wants it. Some want detailed, others want 1 or 2 pages. Wish they could all agree on one format!

November 5, 2007 at 10:33 AM
Melissa Marsh said...

I meant to say ditch the whole "how to write a synopsis". Sheesh!

November 5, 2007 at 10:33 AM
Blaze said...

Hi Robin! Thank you for the post!

The artist that you like is once again the wonderful Ronnie Del Carmen! He is just so good, and I find myself always making his illustrations my computer backgrounds! :) I LOVE this one with the red boots! It makes me want to go boot shopping and then walk in the snow! :)

Hope you're having a wonderful day!

November 5, 2007 at 10:42 AM
Tessa Dare said...

Well, you write mystery and I write romance, so I'm not sure how it's different... but I'd advise AGAINST the chapter-by-chapter method. The most important thing with the synopsis, IMO, is to make it fun to read and showcase your voice. If you can make even a synopsis entertaining, an agent/editor will know you can really write.

Romance author Anne Gracie has a great article on her website
here, with examples of a synopsis that sold her book.

The longer the synopsis, the easier they are. I had to write a one-page synopsis of my WIP for my agent, and it was the HARDEST thing ever.

For a good laugh, use the autosummarize feature in MS Word to summarize part or all of your manuscript. I blogged about it several months ago here.

Good luck!

November 5, 2007 at 3:38 PM
Mystery Robin said...

Thank you for all the comments!

Meliessa - I will google. I think the idea of a "boiler plate" synopsis that I tweak is going to have to work

Blaze - I'll need to go look up Del Carmen's things. I think I'm a fan too! And I love that tea drinker silouhette on your blog today!

Tessa - thank you for the advice!! I've followed both links and am busily taking notes. :)

November 5, 2007 at 4:32 PM
Tia said...

Try browsing around here:

Synopsis Links

There's got to be something helpful among so many links!

November 5, 2007 at 5:12 PM
Mystery Robin said...

Thanks for the links, Tia! I'm checking them out now!

November 5, 2007 at 9:40 PM

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