By: Jane Friedman
It’s probably the single most despised document you might be asked to prepare: the synopsis. The synopsis is sometimes required because an agent or publisher wants to see, from beginning to end, what happens in your story. Thus, the synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending.
Don’t confuse the synopsis with sales copy—the kind of material that might appear on your back cover or in an Amazon description. You’re not writing a punchy marketing piece for readers that builds excitement. It’s not an editorial about your book.
Unfortunately, there is no single “right” way to write a synopsis. You’ll find conflicting advice about the appropriate length, which makes it rather confusing territory for new writers especially. However, I recommend keeping it short, or at least starting short. Write a one-page synopsis—about 500-600 words, single spaced—and use that as your default, unless the submission guidelines ask for something longer. Most agents/editors will not be interested in a synopsis longer than a few pages.
While this post is geared toward writers of fiction, the same principles can be applied to memoir and other narrative nonfiction works.
Why the novel synopsis is important to agents and editors
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If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis | Jane Friedman http://ow.ly/Srdas
Go of the Practice Novel http://ow.ly/SrhmP "Writing a book is an adventure. To begin
with itis a toy and an amusement..."
Non-StructuralLanguage of Story - Storyfix.com http://ow.ly/Srhrb
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AdviceToWriters- Advice to Writers http://ow.ly/SrhyN
- Meaning What You Say, And a Bit More | Writers In The Storm http://ow.ly/SrhCM
- The Four Benefits of Pre-Writing (a guest post by Kaitlin Hillerich of Ink and Quills) | She's Novel http://ow.ly/SrhH8
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to go When Your Self-Editing Can’t Get You There (or They’re?
or Their?!) – The Wise Ink Blog http://ow.ly/SrhQY
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