Monday, October 12, 2009

Anatomy of an Agent Hunt: Writing the Synopsis

All right, true confessions time: I dislike synopses (and I only use the word dislike as an attempt at tactfulness). They’re hard to write, and even harder to write well. So I will definitely not be relying upon any of my own wisdom in trying to explain how to compose one.

I will say that it’s probably best to write two synopses, one longer and one shorter. The longer synopsis should be somewhere in the four- to six-page range, the shorter more like one or two. And now for a few professional pointers (and there’s really only a few because this topic kind of bores me):

The Longer Synopsis

“The Art of the Synop?” In this excellent post on the subject, agent Kristin Nelson presents a framework around which to build a four- to six-page summary. Her one caveat: Since she never uses synopses, either in her query requirements or when she goes out on submission to editors, her advice might not be too valuable. I disagree:)

The Shorter Synopsis

“The synopsis conundrum” As I was composing my synopses for the book I’m currently querying, this was the best explanation I found for what a one-page synopsis should be and how to write one. Agent Nephele Tempest’s post is a must-read on the topic.

Finally, for a great series that puts all these ideas together, check out these “How to write a really good synopsis” posts by fellow writer Anne. My particular favorite was the one entitled “How to write a really good synopsis, part XIV: alas, poor synopsis; I knew him, Horatio,” in which she compares three synopses of varying lengths for the same well-known story.

Well, it’s a start, at least. If you have any tips for writing a synopsis or know of any other helpful online references, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.

1 comment:

Holly said...

I just checked in to see how your search is going. Keep your courage up!

About the synopsis: read the beast out loud. Ask a friend to read it out loud to you. I can hear things that my eyes can't see, especially when they're glazing over from the tenth rewrite.