I know the plural of “synopsis” is “synopses”. I just wanted to type E and S over and over.
Back in the day, I thought the process of getting published went something like this: Write a book. Send it off to a big publisher, like Dutton or Viking. They read it and love it. They cut me a giant check. When it is made into a movie, I get a giant-er check. I use these checks to destroy my enemies and install a Gatling gun on the hood of my car.
Here’s the reality: Write a book. Buy a copy of Guide to Literary Agents to get the latest web addresses of agents seeking new writers. Discover that some of the web addresses are for agents no longer in business; of the ones that still are, few are taking new writers. Send a query letter to them anyway, because you never know. Get either a rejection or–God bless America!–an e-mail asking for sample chapters and . . . a synopsis.
Oh, how I loathe a synopsis.
Basically, it’s a book report on your book. We all loved writing book reports in school, right?
“I read the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. I liked it. It was a good book. My favorite part was the turtle. I like reading books this was a good book.”
That’s not from any book report of mine, by the way. Mine were awesome. Full of adverbs and explosions and magic.
Ah, the dreaded synopsis. Long or short? Three pages or ten pages? I hate the long ones, but I murderously hate the short ones. I really hated them after researching the proper ways to write one and discovering that they should be written in third person, present tense. “She puts the lotion in the basket before she gets the hose again.”
I write in first person, past tense. It’s hard for me to switch gears. But switch I did, all for Agent X, who still has not contacted me.
Are there any secrets to writing a synopsis? No, not really. As mentioned before, it’s like a book report. The thing is, it must be an interesting book report. You are distilling your 65,00-plus-words novel into 3, 5, 10, or 12 pages. You have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. On the plus side, it’s a good way to check for plot holes.
My synopsis, the one I sent out to Agent X, is available for viewing as a page. I originally had it here, but that made the post waaaaay too long. (Agent X requested a long synopsis; I think it topped out at 10 pages.)
And because I am a helpful human, there is no need to head to the top to click on the page, the link is below! 🙂