Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snapping Out a Sizzling Synopsis


Right now I’m knee-deep in writing the dreaded S word, so I thought this would be the perfect thing to blog about: THE SYNOPSIS.

What is a Synopsis?
A synopsis is a brief narrative summary of your novel.

Why Put Yourself Through the Agony?
1. Agents or editors might ask you for a synopsis in a submission package
2. This can be a tool your agent could use to entice an editor to buy your manuscript
3. You may be asked to write a synopsis for future books if your agent is pitching a 2 or 3 book deal
4. Can be used for the basis of the back cover of your book or the inside flap
5. Sales or publicity departments may ask to read it to get an idea of what your story is about

How Do I Format This Beast?
1. Use Times New Roman or Courier font
2. Double space if it’s more than two pages
3. Margins should be 1 ¼ or 3.2 cm
4. In the header on every page except the first, have your name/TITLE/Synopsis in the top left corner
5. In the header, put your page numbers in the top right corner
6. On your first page, in the top left corner, type single spaced your name, address, email and telephone number
7. On the first page, in the top right corner, type in your novel’s genre, word count and the word Synopsis
8. Push return two times and center your novel’s title in capital letters
9. Push return two more times and start writing your synopsis!

How Do I Put it All Together?
1. Must be written in present tense
2. Tell the ENTIRE story- Yes, the big surprise ending, too!
3. Don’t get too long- most agents/editors like 1-2 pages for MG and YA stories
4. Use strong verbs
5. No fluff- cut all adverbs and adjectives
6. Stick to the bare facts
7. Start with the problem- your hook
8. Don’t forget your character’s motivations and feelings
9. Character’s names should be in ALL CAPS when you first introduce them

And that’s the basics for you! Did I miss anything? Do you have some great pieces that you’d like to add? I’d love to hear them because like I said, I’m slogging and sloshing through mine in hopes it will sizzle and shine. (You like my sibilance?)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave 04.20.10 at 7:25 am

I’ve never seen ‘first person’ as mandatory but I’ve read that ‘present tense’ is.

That’s what it says at agent query too:http://www.agentquery.com/format_tips.aspx

The Synopsis notes are about 2/3rds down

Kate Fall 04.20.10 at 7:43 am

I’ve seen synopsises (synopsi?) written in first person and in third. I prefer third person myself, even in novels where I write in first person.

Carl 04.20.10 at 10:23 am

Synopses are a pain, but a necessary evil. I saw one agent comment about how capitalizing a name the first time it appears is not necessary. Anyone else heard anything about that?

Christina 04.20.10 at 3:01 pm

Thank you all! I should have written present tense rather than first person. My mistake and glad you caught it. :-)

Dave- great link. Thanks for sharing!

Carl, I think the all caps in a name could be a preference thing. I’ve seen it done either way. But I think it can help the agent/editor weed out the key players in the story.

So glad you stopped by!

Ruth 04.20.10 at 6:54 pm

Helpful tips–thanks!

Lisa Gibson 04.26.10 at 2:19 pm

Really great advice. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. Very informative. Are the basics for writing a synopsis the same around the world or does it vary? Is it the same in UK and USA?


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