One of the most important things a writer can write is a synopsis. For, it is the one short piece of writing that an agent or publisher will look at before they even get to the manuscript, if, they even read that.
So, the synopsis is the most important piece of any novel or non-fiction writing project and it is often the most hastily written and overlooked part of the whole process.
In my recent book The Handbook of TOP TIPS to Manage Your Writing I cover some of the main points and provide useful tips for the writing of a synopsis.
What is synopsis is most definitely NOT.
A synopsis is NOT a list of characters or chapter titles with a summary of each chapter.
A synopsis is NOT a lengthy blow by blow account of the plot.
A synopsis is NOT a three quarter summary of the story.
A synopsis is not a film type preview of the story.
What a synopsis IS.
A synopsis is a short precis of the whole story and plot, including the end with any final twists and revelations.
It should tell the whole story, give a feel for the main character and what/who/how is to be overcome/won/beaten in the story.
It should give a flavour of the writers style, the genre and pace of the novel, setting, especially if it is a historical or futuristic novel.
A synopsis is THE most important part of a submission.
Many different people have different ideas of how long a synopsis is. I have recently done quite a significant amount of research through the Writers’ and Artists Yearbook and the Writers’ Handbook for agents and publishers and subsequently their websites, for my crime thriller The Truth. There were 15 agents who accepted e-mail submissions and one publisher that accepted unsolicited manuscript submissions by post only.
By and large, the requirements for a synopsis from those agents/publishers who I researched is as follows.
Most wanted a 2 page synopsis
Quite a few wanted a 1 page 500 word synopsis
Only 1 wanted a 4 page synopsis.
So, as a writer, your job is to provide them with what they want and write all three, saving each as a separate file. So that, when called to, one can provide the right type of synopsis for the appropriate agent/publisher.
Take time to understand your own novel, use your chapter summaries file when you write your synopsis. (Another valuable TOP TIP in my book The Handbook of TOP TIPS to Manage Your Writing)
A great book How to Write and Sell A Synopsis written by Stella Whitelaw goes into the requirements of a synopsis and provides valuable information on the mechanics of writing one. It is a good resource for writers and anyone serious about writing their synopsis should get hold of a copy.
Make sure that your book’s Beta reader and your proof readers have also read through your various synopses, because they will have a better third party view of it and may well be able to point out errors or omissions.
After all, as i have stressed in this blog, it is the most important part of a submission, so take time on it or them and make sure that you are happy with them before they go off.