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Author Topic: Synopsis questions  (Read 6350 times)
DragonMom
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« on: November 16, 2006, 12:34:45 PM »

How much information should be in a synopsis for a novel?  One to three thousand words was the length suggested to me, and what I've written is about 1500 words, but it still feels too wordy.  I've never had the guts to shop my book out, so I've never done this before... what are publishers looking for?

TIA - DM
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Ed
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2006, 03:57:08 PM »

Deleted cheers
« Last Edit: November 16, 2006, 05:12:42 PM by blunt » Logged

Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
SharonBell
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 04:45:27 PM »

Here's some other, less loathesome links!

http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/killerquery.html

http://www.booklore.co.uk/Articles/RommelKeith/WriteAKillerQueryArticle.htm

http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-Query-Letters-that-Count----Close-the-Deal-with-Your-First-Letter!&id=14510
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Ed
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2006, 05:11:48 PM »

Heh - I'm seriously considering deleting my previous post, now that you've posted those links, Sharon grin  In fact, I think I will....
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
DragonMom
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2006, 01:01:56 PM »

Thanks for the links Sharon, but I don't know if that's exactly what I'm looking for... this is for a contest that I'm considering entering. They want a synopsis at the top, and the first two chapters.  Would this be the same thing?  huh
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SharonBell
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2006, 01:33:17 PM »

Yes. You want to write however many pages they ask for and include the first 2 chapters.

Good luck!
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2006, 01:34:50 PM »

There has been a little bit of confusion about what goes into a synopsis in recent years. It used to a several page summary of the novel including a pen portrait of the main characters and a paragraph per chapter. But these days it has become as close as you can to a one page summary - including the end game - ie no teasing for the acquisition editor. In addition to this brief synopsis you may need a older type at a later date if and when the publisher / agent asks for it.

The pitch or query letter is a bit different. It is a hook to grab the acquisition editor so they hanker for more. It can be like the blurb on the jacket of your book, or a juicy tease that makes them want more.

In general most contemporary agents and acquisition editors want 1) a query / pitch letter - no more than one A4 page 2) a brief synopsis no more than 2 pages 3) three chapters or 10k words, whichever is less.

I'm saying all this because I've been going through it for the last 3 years, I've read most of the web pages like the ones Sharon posted (I missed Blunts), and I've been to several writers' cons where publishers, editors and agents have spouted the above - the latest being in summer this year.

Best of luck

Geoff
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DragonMom
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2006, 10:57:07 PM »

Ah okay... that makes sense.  Thanks guys!   cheers
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Robert M. Blevins
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2007, 03:36:03 AM »

I could not resist answering this synopsis question!

Forget what you may have heard. First thing: A good synopsis is TOUGH to write. You will have to edit it and treat it like a newborn until you get it right. Each word must be considered for its value and contribution to the final product.

Too much work? No. A good synopsis does TWO things. It gives a complete account of your book from start to finish and leaves no mystery for the editor. Basically, you are boiling your entire book down into a package of 1,000 words or less. (NOT more...pro synopsis are ALWAYS 1,000 words or less, otherwise you will lose the editor's interest.)

Set up the story, the motivations of the main characters, and the entire plot from beginning to end. A good synopsis has NO mystery for the editor. A good synopsis shows editors you are a SERIOUS writer, and even if they reject you, you will usually get a better response, a more helpful response.

Many authors mistake a 'blurb' for a synopsis. A blurb is what you read on the front inside jacket or back cover of a book. It's designed to garner interest in the book, to create an air of mystery. 

IT IS NOT A SYNOPSIS. If you send in synopsis such as this, the editor will know right away you just dropped in for AMATEUR NIGHT. 
You must add...subtract....study....and develop. Sometimes writing one seems almost as hard as writing the damn book. Do a good one and you will have better success with your book, and much faster responses from editors. Editors are NOT out to steal your ideas, so boil down that book from start to finish and see what happens... cheers

Adventure Books of Seattle posted up a couple of videos on this and other writing/publishing subjects here:

www.adventurebooksofseattle.com/abvideos.htm
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DragonMom
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2007, 11:31:52 PM »

Cool, thanks, Robert.  I didn't win that contest, but entering it did get me off my butt and get more of it written.  Every little bit helps, right? bleh
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