View Full Version : 3 - 5 page synopsis

nancy sv
05-11-2008, 05:22 AM
I just got an email from an agent - she wants the first 50 pages or so and a 3 - 5 page synopsis of my work. Is there any suggested format for a synopsis of that length? I've got a one-page overview of the book written up, but never even considered a 3 - 5 page one? Should I go chapter by chapter or should it just be a long essay-type thing?

nancy sv
05-11-2008, 05:31 AM
I should add that I have chapter summaries written up - ends up being 7 pages, but that's with all the extra spaces in there due to Chapter Titles. I could basically take out the chapter titles and just put the summaries together and it would probably come in at5 pages or so. Would that work?

05-11-2008, 05:36 AM
could basically take out the chapter titles and just put the summaries together and it would probably come in at 5 pages or so. Would that work?

I think that would be a great start. My guess is that once you'd done that, you'd see things you wanted to tweak and streamline.

Cathy C
05-11-2008, 06:22 AM
It sort of depends on whether the agent wants a chapter overview or a "narrative" synopsis. It really depends on the agent, so since you're already looking at a rewrite---if I were in your shoes, I'd simply ASK. Send a quick reply thanking them for their interest, and ask if the agent PREFERS a chapter outline or a narrative (which implies that you have both ready. ;) ) You can also ask at that time if you should send it as an attachment or in the body. Again, different agents prefer different things.

It's considered perfectly acceptable to ask this stuff once they've contacted you with interest in it.

Good luck! :)

05-11-2008, 07:57 AM
Fiction or non-fiction? For non-fiction, you actually should be giving the chapter-by-chapter outline. To fit that into 2-3 pages, you probably only have room for one or two paragraphs per chapter, depending on the number of chapters. Also, synopsis/outlines are single-spaced.

nancy sv
05-11-2008, 08:06 AM
Thanks! I just sent her an email asking what kind of synopsis she wants.

05-11-2008, 08:09 AM
I agree you should ask. I did a synopsis in "voice" and my agent HATED it. Once I found out she didn't care for that style, I went back to the straight on, what's key to the plot synopsis and she's always been happy with them.

"Your Novel Proposal, From Creation to Contract", by Camenson and Cook, has some excellent examples of synopses. Also, there are some wonderful examples up on the Romance Forum (and thanks again to Cathy C for putting those up there!).

nancy sv
05-11-2008, 08:20 AM
She just replied and said to send both (if I have them)!! Now what do I do? I used the chapter summaries to create the narrative, so they are basically identical. Do I need to rewrite one? Or should I send them both in? Or should I just send one?

Cathy C
05-11-2008, 08:40 PM
A narrative synopsis reads like a short story, rather than touching on the details of what happens in each chapter. It doesn't focus very much on subplots, except to say that there ARE some. But it focuses heavily on the character's motivation for their actions and some of the worldbuilding (depending on your genre.) You might want to look at some of the ones (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=71843)that other writers have posted in the romance room. Ignore the genre---you're looking for the details of what makes it a working synopsis.

Mostly, don't panic at this point. If you don't feel comfortable sending both, just send one with a "The narrative synopsis wasn't quite as strong as I'd hoped. I'd like to spend some more time on it, so if you still want to see it, I can send it in a week or so. But here's the chapter outline to get you started."

Or something like that. In the alternative, you can say write back to say that you're doing a final proofread and will send everything in a week or so. That's perfectly acceptable in the business.

Relax and just send your best work---whatever that might be. :)