Monday, November 25, 2013

What is a synopsis?

What is a synopsis?
When I respond to a query, I ask the author to submit two things: a partial manuscript (usually three chapters if novel-length) or the full story (if a short), and a synopsis. It’s the second part of the request that seems to cause the most trouble. Some people don’t understand what a synopsis is. Maybe they even wonder why I am asking for a synopsis, wasn’t that bit in the query letter enough? Sorry, folks, that’s just the teaser. It doesn’t tell me who these characters are, why I should care about them, and how their story progresses and ends.

A synopsis is just a summary of what your story is about. It lets me, the editor, know where you are going in terms of major plot points and character development (the emphasis being here on “major”; I don’t need to know every single thing, e.g. the hero cracks his knuckles or the heroine had a pet pig when she was eight, unless that’s a important story detail for some reason). It can help me decide if your story is a good “fit”, or, if it’s an almost “fit”, where it could be reworked. It‘s also a reference tool (for both novel-length and shorter works, including full stories).   

For a novel, the synopsis should be about two or three pages single-spaced, longer if double-spaced. Put it into a separate document, not the body of the email or in the story itself. Don’t forget to title it (e.g. Twice Is Not Enough Synopsis) and name the file accordingly (e.g. Twice_synopsis).

One last point: in a synopsis, it’s ok to tell, not show!

Claudia Fallon
Wild Rose Press Editor

No comments: