Author Topic: Length of synopsis?  (Read 3155 times)

Offline Mr. Bits

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Length of synopsis?
« on: February 08, 2006, 09:39:59 AM »
Hi, everyone.

After reading 'Critique my synopsis' in the Review my Work section, two questions occurred to me.
How long should a synopsis be? If an agent specifies no more than a page, should I take that to
mean 250 words or less? Should a synopsis be written in a neutral style, or should it suggest the
writer's style?



Dale Rhodes

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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2006, 10:08:43 AM »
Hi Mr. Bits,

Good questions, and important ones.

The length of your synopsis should be tailored to fit the submission guidelines of whoever you are submitting it to...exactly. Agents and publishers have different guidelines, so know what they are before you submit, and submit only what they ask for. This means you will probably have to write more than one synopsis. Grueling work, but well worth the exercise.

The synopsis is not the place to show off your writing style. They will determine that if and when they ask for sample chapters. The synopsis is simply there to give them the basics of the plot, and the characters involved, and how the story resolves itself. Based on those factors, they will determine if your story has interesting potential, and whether or not it suits their needs at the time.

A synopsis should be written in third-person present tense.



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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2006, 06:41:41 AM »
One thing that was mentioned on Writers Circle in the beginning was synopisis versus blurb for the back of the book.

With a synopsis you must be sure to include all the basic characters and plot of the story in one or two A4 sheets for the publisher whereas with the blurb for the back of the book you have to remember it must fit on the back cover.

Some people tend to confuse a synopsis with the blurb!


Dale Rhodes

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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2006, 08:51:14 AM »
I think I'm being scolded again  :'(


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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2006, 09:04:35 AM »

Don't worry, no-one gets scolded here, we are not at school anymore - thank God!

Your points are valid and afterall we are here to discuss and learn.

Cheer up  ;D


Offline Mr. Bits

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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2006, 09:33:52 AM »
Thanks, Dale and Lin.

Why do you think so many writers fall at this first hurdle*? Any further hints or tips? Your answer
makes me wonder how story-less novels ever get published.


*Other than the obvious - hand written, tiny/flashy font, paper with bunny rabbits on etc.

Offline Symphony

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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2006, 10:00:17 AM »
Hello Mr Bits,

I read recently that many newbies to writing synopses make the mistake of leaving out the conclusion of the story - a sort of 'if-you-want-to-know-the-end-you'll-have-to-read-it' kind of effort. This will be rejected immediately as a synopsis must tell the complete story, including a suitably satisfying conclusion!

(just thought I'd mention that - seems like an important point)

Some books/websites also recommend that the first time a character's name is mentioned (and only the first!) their name should be typed in caps. I think this is a style thing - but it's actually quite effective, looks professional and many legal documents use this format, so it's not some crackpot's idea just for the fun of it. I do think it's probably a personal choice - but thought I'd air the option in case others haven't considered it.



Offline aelfwin

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Re: Length of synopsis?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2006, 10:03:46 AM »
Mr Bits, Here's a guidline that I sent to cjmorace. It might prove helpful when writing a synopsis.
These are from Victoria J. Coe. 
1) Begin by telling the entire plot in one sentence.
2) Next, explain the main character,s motivation in one or two sentences.
3) Then summarize the middle of the story and climax in one or two sentences.
4) Finally, tell how the main character grows or what he learns as a result of his experience.
If any of the above points can be combined, do so.  In other words, keep it short and sweet. I have spent days and days whittling down my stories to a precious few words, but that seems to be what an editor wants, just a few words to tell him what it's all about. Hope this is of some use.   Aelf.