Synopsis Stress

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Synopsis Stress

Traci Kenworth


It’s my least favorite part of querying: the dread synopsis, but I understand why they’re a necessity. It gives the agent a chance to see the broad-strokes of your novel. I start by going through my manuscript and writing a chapter-by-chapter summary. Four or five lines for each are good, I find. Once this is done, I go back and pick the best pieces of what the story is about from the first three chaps, then the next three chaps, and on. This usually narrows it down to a 3-5 page outline of the story. This is a good choice for the longer synopsis some agencies want to see. Lastly, I go back and glean the most important parts of the 3-5 pages down into a one-page synopsis. I figure this way, I’ll be set if an agent wants just the bare (but greatest plot points) of the work.

And there you have it, how I deal with the synopsis card. What are some of your tips when writing one? Do you break it down like above? Or wait to reduce it from long form to shorter form when needed?

6 thoughts on “Synopsis Stress

  1. Great post! The synopsis is my worst enemy too (hehhee). HATE them. I normally start out with a sentence (like a tag line) then build from there. Or I take my query blurb and expand that (adding in the extra details). It makes it easier if I have a small bit to start with. The hardest part is determining what info “needs” to be in there…


  2. Exactly, Rebekah!! I’m always afraid that my synopsis is a “boring” read because it reminds me so much of highschool and college reports/outlines etc. “Pepping” it up is my most torturous part of the process. Although, hopefully, in the end, it turns out decent.


  3. I use Save the Cat to help me with my synopsis.

    Because agents like to stir things up by requesting all kinds of synopsis lengths, I have a both a three page and one page synopsis ready to go. And if the agent wants a two pager, then I can easily create one. 😀


  4. I don’t mind synopses, but it really means knowing the heart of the story and leaving out everything else. I think what was really tough for me tho was writing a synopsis for a novel I hadn’t written. That’s tough!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse


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