I’ve found approximately 30 agents I can query on a story involving married women who entertain the idea of having an affair while in Paris. If you’ve ever had that kind of conversation with a girlfriend–or never had the chance to talk about…hmmm, stuff like this–you’ll love seeing it in print! Anyway, back to the submitting process. Of the 30 agents I’ve found so far, only 1/6 asks for the QL alone. The other 5/6 ask for the QL with extras–mostly a synopsis. How many is that? Well, I’ll let you to do a little math or just skip on down to the more important stuff: basic points to a synopsis.
Below is what I found out about synopses along with some sources.
Basic points to a synopsis:
- You can write one that shows the story’s development from start to end.
- Some sites say a synopsis is a 1-page endeavor while others say it’s 2 – 3 pages (or 5!). If your agent gives a length, that’s the length yours is.
- Write the synopsis as if it were going on a book jacket. Write so it makes a person want to pay money for the book. Put on your marketing cap!
- But don’t leave out the ending! Agents want to know if it’s plausible.
- The synopsis mirrors the voice of the book. If the voice is serious, so is your synopsis. If your story voice is sassy, write it that way.
- Write in present tense!
Don’t be coy. Clearly state your main character’s goal, what stands in the way, what steps the MC takes to achieve said goal, and what challenges are overcome to reach his/her goal. You’re telling at this point, not rendering through show. Dear Editor has a good method for getting your ideas in order, “In this chapter [scene or part], MC does X and it worsens her problem by X.”
Where do you begin? Glen C. Strathy suggests beginning with the first conflict, the issue that “sets the protagonist on course towards his [or her] goal, etc.” and end with the actual exciting ending. Remember, this is not the time for a compelling, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
What’s the “emotional arc” being asked for in the synopsis? The arc shows who your MC is at the beginning of your novel, what pushes him/her to react a certain way, if there’s a change in how MC behaves, and how MC actually morphs or doesn’t at the end of the novel. Strathy offers a series of great questions to understand your character’s arc. Right here at Step 2. 🙂
Mention the major characters who influence MC to change; again, whether MC actually changes or not at the end, someone is trying to affect some kind of change. So mention how your MC is influenced by other(s) and whether this is what causes MC to make different choices than he/she would have made at the beginning of the novel. (Your character is probably not static.)
Do not write too much, according to Jane Friedman, you should probably write less than you’re inclined. Leave out the fluffy thematic. Her example, “in a thrilling turn of events!” Leave it out. Just the facts please.
For my next step in drafting the synopsis, I’m going to try Scrivener for writing my chapters’ plot points. Never used it before, and I didn’t make an outline prior to the book, so this may take a while. Then I’m gonna rewrite for a long (long-ass) time.