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Thread: Book synopsis

  1. #26
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    Yes. I have a 10-page. Then I pared it down to 5 pages, 2 pages, 1 page, 3-5 paragraphs, and 1 paragraph.

    I find that agents tend to ask for 3-5 paragraph or 1 page synopses. When they don't specify, I tend to give them a 1 page anyway -- I don't want to scare them with a 10-page mini-series!

    What I did was go through chapter by chapter and write down what that chapter was about, in one paragraph or two. By the time I was done with it, I had an outline for a synopsis. Then I just trimmed and added, depending on what I needed. The process worked out pretty well for me.

    I didn't want to work. It was as simple as that. I distrusted work, disliked it. I thought it was a very bad thing that the human race had unfortunately invented for itself.
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  2. #27
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    I only submit to publishers, so it might be a little different, but here's what I do.

    I write a query letter, a short (usually around 1000 words) synopsis, and then send that plus the first couple chapters (wherever there is a good place to break off in the start of my novel, usually somewhere between 15 and 30 pages unless I'm doing an e-query, for which I'd send only maybe 5-10). So I write the synopsis when I write the query letter.

    Remember, your synopsis doesn't need to be a play by play of everything that happens. It just needs to highlight the major events, follow the voice and tone of the book, and tell the ending. Telling the ending is super important.

    Hope that helps

  3. #28
    Fantastic historian Anne Lyle's Avatar
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    And motivation, as someone reminded me in another thread. Why your protagonist gets involved in the story and acts as he does is far more important than a blow-by-blow account. Otherwise you end up sounding like a 5-year-old: "And then...and then..."
    Elizabethan fantasy N1ght's Masque - out now from 4ngry R0bot Books.


  4. #29
    Cake or death? Satchan's Avatar
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    I've been pondering this, too. And in cases where agents don't ask for a synopsis in their initial submission materials (query + first 5 pages, etc.), are they likely to ask for it later? I was planning on finishing my synopsis before querying, but...



  5. #30
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    It's better to have ALL your materials ready to go in case the agent/editor asks for it, so you don't have to scramble. What's the rush? You've spent months, if not years, writing the manuscript. Don't you think it deserves a synopsis? It only takes a few days, if not hours, to write.

    I didn't want to work. It was as simple as that. I distrusted work, disliked it. I thought it was a very bad thing that the human race had unfortunately invented for itself.
    -- Agatha Christie





    The Pacific Between A Bunch of Stories
    (2006 IPPY Award)

    WIP: Beyond the Banyan Tree - draft 9, 125,000 words

    Home Page | Blog | Reviews

  6. #31
    'tis the magic that binds us Tiergan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maestrowork View Post
    It's better to have ALL your materials ready to go in case the agent/editor asks for it, so you don't have to scramble. What's the rush? You've spent months, if not years, writing the manuscript. Don't you think it deserves a synopsis? It only takes a few days, if not hours, to write.
    Bows down to Maestro. A few days! If not hours! Geez, I wish. Sometimes I feel it takes longer than my novel itself. I think I will try your method though, chapter by chapter, then reduce from there.

  7. #32
    I'm currently knee-deep into the subbing experience myself. I wrote/sent out a few queries first. I have yet to see whether that was wise or not.
    BETA-ING: Cave Draconem (YA urban fantasy), 57k words
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  8. #33
    Aaaayyy! Erik M's Avatar
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    Have everything ready before hand. Many agents want a synopsis when you query. With the first book I queried, I only had a fairly lengthy synopsis--probably too lengthy, though no one complained. Now I am getting ready to query a second book and have a one page and a three page synopsis prepared.
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  9. #34
    Foreshadowing Queen erin_michelle's Avatar
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    I always have a 1-page synopsis, 2-page synopsis, and the first three chapters formatted in Wordpad, along with the query, ready to go. It's stressful enough waiting for responses; I don't want to be fiddling around with a synopsis or formatting issues during the wait.
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  10. #35
    figuring it all out
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    Good question. I forgot about the synopsis preparation. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. #36
    Is swimming with creativity frogs AlishaS's Avatar
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    The first novel I queried I ahead of time wrote a 1, 3 and 5 page synopsis and had it at the ready. Only 3 people requested it.

    The current novel I am querying I have a 1 and 3 page synopsis that I only wrote up when someone wanted it, I got lazy.
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  12. #37
    Fantastic historian Anne Lyle's Avatar
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    I had to write a synopsis before submitting, because most UK agents want a partial, not a query letter. Most of those want a one-page synopsis, and by snail-mail, so I wrote however many words would fit on an A4 page single-spaced in a sensible font size (about 500, IIRC).

    For my proposal package I was asked for two 2-page synopses (by email), so I wrote 1000 words on each and let them worry about how many pages it would come to
    Elizabethan fantasy N1ght's Masque - out now from 4ngry R0bot Books.


  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW wrombola's Avatar
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    I'm wondering if we need a synopsis Hell forum. I have heard that is often the second thing an agent will read after your query.

    My first attempts at a query was closer to a synopsis anyways, so I am hoping the actual synopsis won't be too painful.
    The early bird gets the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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  14. #39
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I have a question about this: (or, I should say, I need to find out if I am doing it all wrong)

    My synopsis is stealing from my query. In other words, most of the sentences in my query are also in my synopsis, and then my synopsis goes on in more detail.

    It's because I worked hard (like for over a year) on my query, which now has nice sentences that explain my story about as neatly and concisely as I can explain it, and when I went to write the synopsis, well... those sentences just sort of jumped off the page of one and on to the other.

    Somehow this doesn't seem right (because I realize the same agent will read them both) but anything else would feel contrived (like writing the same thank-you-note for the same amount of birthday-money to different relatives and trying manfully to rearrange the words. Been there?)

    What to do?

  15. #40
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Oh this is such a beast! I have one that I painfully brought down to 3 pages and wouldn't you know, the agent requested 1-2 pages. Pulling my hair out.

  16. #41
    Fantastic historian Anne Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by momgotshocked View Post
    I have a question about this: (or, I should say, I need to find out if I am doing it all wrong)

    My synopsis is stealing from my query. In other words, most of the sentences in my query are also in my synopsis, and then my synopsis goes on in more detail.
    I wouldn't worry about it. After all, you are sending the query first then the synopsis along with the chapters, possibly several weeks or even months later. Having the same text in both will hopefully just remind the agent why she liked your query in the first place.
    Elizabethan fantasy N1ght's Masque - out now from 4ngry R0bot Books.


  17. #42
    figuring it all out
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    Every agent wants something different for the synopsis, so my advice would be to check out his/her website first. For good measure, I wrote up three different synopses: one page, three pages, and six pages. I can easily trim up the three page one when necessary, and have never been asked for a synopsis longer than six pages. Good luck!

  18. #43
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EGGammon View Post
    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?
    Leave out the less important subplots and minor characters as the synopsis gets shorter. Start with a ten pager, shorten it to 3 pages, and finally to one page. The you have synopses for all requirements. Keep tweaking them. A synopsis is a sales tool, and it deserves the effort.

    The difference between your novel and others belongs in the cover letter, query, and/or blurb, but not in the synopsis.
    Dangerous Bill

    'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
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