Synopsis in a Query?

Q. I’m not one of those scurrilous people in a movie theater who loudly announces the plot ending to the entire audience. But what’s best for a synopsis in a query letter? Should I include my ingenious plot twist at the end? Or should I provide intrigue so a literary agent will want to read the manuscript?
        – James

A. Do the latter.  Provide intrigue so a literary agent will want to read more.  A query is only designed to deliver the hook – the cool idea (or catch) for an idea that makes your story work.  It’s not meant to reveal the twist ending or the true killer.  A synopsis is a long document that’s something different altogether.
       And regarding your movie theater demeanor … your loss.

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6 thoughts on “Synopsis in a Query?

  1. Christy

    Help! Please. I am in need of an agent. I know exactly who I want. He has been recommended to me by one of his former clients, who happens to be a very established writer. I have a ms that has passed the editor and is sitting back in the hands of the publisher (fingers crossed). However, I am not sure that I will ever be able to query this agent. His submissions guidelines state that queries that do not contain the coveted SASE will be recycled upon receipt. I’m not lazy or cheap. I’d gladly include one, but being Canadian that is much more difficult than you would think. USPS is no longer shipping stamps to foreign locations. Can I climb out of the slush with a sticky note saying, "recycle if rejected"? I know this agent likes to represent Canadians, but the truth is, now we’ll only be able to equery or have American friends smuggle us stamps like we once smuggled them Cuban cigars. I’ve been looking for answers around the blog scene, but as of yet, haven’t received any. This dilemma really does extend past me missing out on my dream agent. The doors to many agents and publishing houses have now been closed to foreigners.

  2. Gena Ellis

    Hi Chuck,
    Gena Ellis, screenwriter, here trying to contact you.

    You had sent me some questions a couple of weeks ago for an article you are doing for your upcoming Screenwriters Market guide.

    I was in the middle of a move and had an emergency come up. I have no access to my email so thought I’d try contacting you this way. I’ll also call the Writers’ Digest number later if this does not work.

    If it’s not too late, please send me your questions again and I’ll answer them pronto.

    I recall one about the Internet website where my script was ‘found.’ I do not recall the others.


    Gena Ellis
    Angela’s Decision

  3. Madison

    Thank you for clearing this matter up. I’ve heard that you should give away an ending in a query, but that would make me not want to read the manuscript if I were agent. Now my query will be better!


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