Boiling down your 80K-100K word manuscript to just a couple of pages is never fun, nor is it easy, but a synopsis is one of those necessary evils if you plan on querying your manuscript. Matters are only made more difficult by there seemingly being no hard and fast rules with regards to length, and even spacing.
Here are some of the basic rules and guidelines to help you get through writing your synopsis.
- A synopsis is a summary of your entire manuscript. Unlike your query which only covers about a third of your manuscript, a synopsis tells the whole story, including the ending.
- Write two to three different length synopses. Some say you should have one double spaced page of synopsis for every 20 pages of manuscript, but I feel this could result in a fairly long synopsis. Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast rule to the length, although some agents specify a maximum word count. I usually have 200, 750 and 1200 word versions of my synopsis, and if an agent doesn't specify, I send them the longest.
- Make sure you include your manuscript word count, genre and pertinent information in the title area.
- I usually use double spacing, however, you should check agency guidelines, since this can vary from agent to agent.
- A synopsis is written in third person and present tense, regardless of the tense and pov your manuscript is written in.
- Do not flood the synopsis with character names and places. Stick to the main characters.
- When you first use a character's name, put the entire name in caps.This is done for the first time it's used only. This is not done for place names.
- Stick with the main plot points. Though I'm sure there are plenty of sub-plots in your story, including all of them will make it difficult for you to condense your story.
- Try to hit upon all the key points of your story—the initiating event, the conflicts and what escalates them, the turning points, the climax, and the resolution.
- Most importantly, make sure the voice of your manuscript comes through.
Do you have any tips for making synopsis writing easier?