Monday, March 8, 2010


Yes, the dreaded synopsis, right up there with the dreaded query. In fact, I think the query and synopsis are a two headed mythological monster that assumed the separate identity of query and synopsis just to blend in with modern day society. It's a theory, and I'm sticking with it.

So, I have to do a synopsis at some point, in the very near future. Woo-hoo, for me!!! No, I didn't believe that line either, but it was worth a try. The margarita glass is always half-full after all!

Now, what would a blog post be without some useful links . . . but you'll have to wait a bit for those. First, a good example of a synopsis, two in fact, can be found at the beginning of Tad William's Shadowrise (the third book in his most recent epic fantasy series). So, go to the library, check out the book, and check out the synopsis (both) in the front. Sorry, don't know the plural for synopsis. Ha! I've read both previous books in the series and I can tell you the synopsisi (???) cover all the bases. They run in length from 3 to 4 pages for some very big books.

And, while I'm talking about Tad Williams, Shadowrise was supposed to be the last book in the series except . . . he ended up with 1500 pages. Yes, he did. He wrote an apology to his readers that starts out this book explaining what he did, and that the last volume of the series (Shadowheart) would come out in a few months. It will come out in November. Woo-hoo! Now this, dear readers, is the way to maintain your reading audience, unlike another author who wrote too big a book, badly split it in two and . . . . four years later still hasn't put out the next book. : )

But, back to synopsi (???) . . .

Natalie Whipple at Between Fact and Fiction did a post about how to write a synopsis. Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower and The Literary Lab was nice enough to pass this on to me.

Nathan Bransford did a post called how to write a synopsis.

Over at BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency there's a post called the synopsis.

And, with careful searching of the links on agent blogs, you can find even more information. In fact, I have a whole folder at the house filled with printouts on how to write a synopsis. Now, had I been uber prepared, I would have had all those links available. Unfortunately, I wasn't in uber-prepared mode today, so you just have the above links. But . . . I have faith in the research abilities of my followers. If you have any great synopsis (or synopsi) links, please post them in the comments section. Thanks.



Tess said...

So, maybe I just lucked out because I never have written a synop.

I submitted a query, got a MS request and went from there.

And - it wasn't just the agent I signed with. I mean, the nibbles I got (even on the ones who passed) went: query, partial, full, decision.

I would be very curious to know how many people were actually required to write a synop before a contract. I know they are required for contest entries but am not convinced how they play into the route most of us will take.

Am I up in the night?

Robyn Campbell said...

Scott, Tess it seems is dang LUCKY! Because some agents are now requesting a synopsis along with the query. But as you know this queenly person who now has a crown to prove her regalness, ahem, you can get up now...*grin* had to write a synopsis already. Now I am missing quite a few hairs. OKAY, I'M BALD! But I got that thing finished.

Here's a link and please, don't forget you are talking to ROYALTY. =)

Cynthea Liu, writes for kids Scott, but her synopsis advice is very easy to understand. And you could apply it to your writing. I learned a lot from reading this. And remember, to include internal and external and write in present tense--even if your book isn't in present. Cynthia Liu

Scott said...

Tess - I think you were lucky, except when you asked your boss about 'afternoon delight'. Yes, I'm still laughing over that one! Ha! I'll have to double check the agents in my list and see how many want the synopsis. It'd be great if none of them did. Okay, now, what's up with your question: am I up in the night???

Robyn - obviously, whoever gave you that crown needs to be shot. I'm just saying . . . Thanks for the link. I'll check it out when I get in synopsis mode. Now, about that crown . . .

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hey, great timing. I have to write a synopsis for a grant application, so I'm off to check out these links. Thanks!

Elana Johnson said...

QT did some posts on the synopsis too. And I just read this one TODAY. How freaky is that??

Lady Glamis said...

Yeah, the synopsis. I HATE that thing. It took me a solid week of pure hell to get mine right. Really, it wasn't fun. But I think I finally got it to a place where I'm happy with it and represents my book well.

I may do a post about my writing process for that. Or maybe not. We'll see how much energy I've got!

Scott said...

Tricia - timing is everything . . . and you're welcome. : )

Elana - my bad! How in the heck could I forget QT? Then again, that's why I asked for links in the comments.

Lady Glamis - I'm right there with you, though I'm glad Tad Williams put the synopsis in front of his most recent book . . . which he normally does in a series, but . . . Oh well, just one more hurdle to leap effortlessly (yeah, right) over on the road to publication. : )

Tess said...

Have you not heard that question before? It's colloquial. Or, am I misunderstanding your question about my question? hehe.

And, my hubby laughed SO hard when I told him about my flub up at work. I'm still trying to act all proper around my boss .. you know, making up for it. Luckily, he's pretty easy going. Oh well, it was worth it for the laugh :D

And .. about this synop point. All of the agents I queried (6 or 7 at that time) SAID they would eventually ask for one on their website, but not a single one did. I would really like to know what percentage actually use them. I mean, aside from the query which is a mini synop of sorts.