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Thread: Book synopsis

  1. #1
    EGGammon
    Guest

    Book synopsis

    Any tips on writing a good synopsis of your book? I am looking ahead for when I am querying agents and I want to think now, about putting together a great synopsis. But my book is pretty unique, in that it involves a lot of characters, with many subplots, all under 2 main umbrella stories.

    Can the synopsis include a paragraph about what sets my book from the rest, ya know, what makes it unique?

  2. #2
    novelator
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    Here's a link from my website that might answer some questions for you:

    www.mlbushman.com/synopsis.htm

    Mari

  3. #3
    katdad
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    Yes your synopsis may include an intro section that explains the book in general.

    The intro should be no longer than 2-3 paragraphs, followed by the actual synopsis.

    Keep your synopsis to fewer than 4-5 pages, regardless of your novel's length or complexity.

    Just tell the story in brief, summarizing the major characters and plot points.

    And yes, you do reveal the "surprise ending" (if any) in a synopsis. The purpose of a synopsis is not to tease the reader, but instead to clearly outline the book itself.

  4. #4
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    The synopsis should not "tease." It should tell the whole story: beginning, middle, and end. It should tell us who the "major" characters are and what they do. Skip minor details or subplots. If the subplot is major/parallel with the main plot, mention it, too, but don't let it overwhelm your main story. You may quote a few passages from the book, but don't overdo it. Some people debate whether one should write the synopsis in a similar style of the novel itself. Do what is best for you. Be specific (not vague) while skimming the details. A good way to do it is write the whole story first (don't worry about page count), details and all, then trim out the fat, the extraneous adverbs and adjectives, and minor plot/characters. Trim and trim until you're down to 3-5 pages and the story is still coherent. You'd be amazed how much can be said, specifically, without all the details.

  5. #5
    EGGammon
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    Wow, thanks you guys! I pictured the synopsis as being a couple paragraphs, not giving away too much. But, if it's just a description of the whole book on a few pages, then I have that (it's what I work from when I'm writing) & of course it will get a little polishing later when it's time to submit.

    And thanks for that site! A lot of great links there!

  6. #6
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    You're talking about the synopsis/what-my-story-is-about blurb in your cover letter...

  7. #7
    azbikergirl
    Guest

    Synopsis

    I've also read that synopsis should be told in the present tense.

  8. #8
    katdad
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    I pictured the synopsis as being a couple paragraphs
    That's actually the summary. Here are a couple summaries from my website, describing my private detective mystery series:

    "Sudden Storm" - A wealthy investment banker hires Mitch to find his runaway trophy wife, and the search leads to a shadowy mob boss. Why does the wife periodically leave her husband? What dangers does she face at home? Mitch struggles to find a solution before terrible violence wends its way into the troubled family. And Mitch is further burdened by involvement in a serial murder case. The Slicer has terrified Houston with his brutal killings, and Mitch is asked to help find him. 67,240 words.

    "Full Circle" - Mitchell King is hired to protect a sexy murder suspect but he becomes romantically involved, and that influences his judgment. Mitch embarks upon a vendetta that brings him to near ruin. His reputation and honor are challenged as his fixation upon the woman affects his every move. Mitch must also devote time to assisting a beautiful NASA astronaut. She is being harassed and stalked by an emotionally disturbed admirer. 64,100 words.

    These are summaries, not synopses. Hope this helps.

  9. #9
    Daughter of Faulkner
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    My agent told me only one page for the synopsis. That's all I know. It was the very last thing I wrote then came an outline neither of which I enjoyed writing.

  10. #10
    Elizabeth Genco
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    There's a nice article on the synopsis in the issue of THE WRITER that showed up in my mailbox yesterday. I believe it's the March issue.

  11. #11
    azbikergirl
    Guest

    Synopsis

    The length seems to vary depending on the agent or publisher. Russell Galen says he likes to see about 1500 words. Others want longer or shorter. Here's a How To article on writing the 1-pager, and then expanding it.

    Beth Anderson's Barebones Synopsis

    What's not clear to me is whether the page-limit requests are for courier or TNR, double spaced or single. The word count total for a 1-page synopsis single-spaced TNR 12 is a whole lot higher than 1-page double-spaced Courier 12. One book I have on queries and synopses states that anything that fits on a single page should be single-spaced.

  12. #12
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: Synopsis

    Synopsis is Times Roman (10 or 12 pt), single-spaced. That does seem to account to about 500 words per page, so 3-page would be 1500 words. As for the actual length, consult the agent's submission guideline or ask them. Most agents I've contacted asked for 1 to 3 pages.

  13. #13
    triceretops
    Guest

    Re: Synopsis

    Proposals, pitches, outlines, chap outlines, synopsis, overviews, are all single spaced. That has been my take on it anyway--it's a business letter. Sample chapters--double space.

    Tri

  14. #14
    gp101
    Guest

    synopsis

    Single-spaced??

    Does everyone agree on that? I had read it was supposed to be double-spaced and that's how I wrote mine. However I don't want to send out my current synopsis if that's incorrect.

  15. #15
    EGGammon
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    Wow, lots of different answers... I guess I'll just have to check with the agents I send the synopsis to. With my novel, as I said before, there are two umbrella stories over many smaller subplots. Should I detail the umbrella stories and mention the fact that there are many subplots? Or should I explain in detail everything?

  16. #16
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    gp, it's single-spaced unless otherwise noted in the submission guidelines.

  17. #17
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    Yes, single-spaced.

    Times Roman is okay.

    Manuscripts are double spaced and in Courier.


    (No one is going to be editing your synopsis for production....)

  18. #18
    mr mistook
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    I've been writing drafts of my synopsis. I'm pretty sure I can nail the whole story in two pages @ single spaced TNS. One page would be a bit of a challenge. Three to five pages? No problem!

    What are the margins on a typical synopsis? Inch all around? What about the header to the document? Where does my name and addy go, and all that other good stuff?

    Where does the title go, and do I leave spoiler space before I begin the synopsis?

  19. #19
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    Egg, if it's a 1-2 page synopsis, cut all the intricate subplots and minor characters. Focus on the main story. If it's a 10-page synopsis, then go ahead putting in the subplots, etc. (It's understood that there are subplots and details in novels, but the agent wants to know what your main story is about: the beginning, the middle, the end.)

  20. #20
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    Include the surprising twist ending in the synopsis.

  21. #21
    Man with twohanded sword
    Guest

    Re: synopsis

    A good sample synopsis is part of this article:
    www.sfwa.org/writing/OP71.htm

    Or, at least I think it's good.

  22. #22
    STORMTURNER
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    If I were a publisher with the power to offer you top billing for your novel and I gave you three minutes summarize it, what would you say?








    That's your synopsis.

  23. #23
    Daughter of Faulkner
    Guest

    Re: Book synopsis

    Well said!

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW wrombola's Avatar
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    May 2010
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    novel submission question

    For those of you who have been through the process...

    Before querying do you prepare a synopsis? If so do you write multiple copies in case the agent asks for a one page, five page, twenty page version?

    How often do agents ask for a synopsis anyways?
    The early bird gets the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

    http://wrombola.wix.com/-nymph-heart

  25. #25
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrombola View Post
    For those of you who have been through the process...

    Before querying do you prepare a synopsis? If so do you write multiple copies in case the agent asks for a one page, five page, twenty page version?

    How often do agents ask for a synopsis anyways?
    I haven't done a synopsis ahead, but I do Notepad versions of the first 5 and 10 pages, etc. to copy and paste into the body of an email (depending on which size the agent prefers).

    Pearl Jam is Ellie's religion.
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