How do y'all do a synopsis?

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Roar822
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How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby Roar822 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:19 pm

I have a potential agent I want to send my book to who I think might be interested in the subject. His requirements though are that he wants to see a synopsis of any work before he agrees to read the entire book. He wants the synopsis to be three to ten pages; double spaced with indented paragraphs that shows the main characters and their personalities and covers all major points of the book. My problem is that my book has fifteen characters, something of an ensemble, as well as several plot lines that all come together in the climax. The book is primarily a horror/fantasy, but contains a great deal of humor (well, I think it's funny :) ) mostly involving banter between some of the characters. How can I get all of that in three to ten double spaced pages? I did manage to do a synopsis that was seven pages, but it just describes the bare bones of the story missing the 'feel' of the actual story. If I submit that I'm afraid it won't make the book sound very interesting, but if I go beyond the ten page limit (I actually wrote a second synopsis that I feel does properly represent the book's nature at twenty pages) I'm afraid the agent will reject it unread for violating the guidelines. Have any of you had this problem and if so how did you deal with it? :?: :?

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ostarella
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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby ostarella » Mon Aug 07, 2017 11:39 pm

Haven't written a synopsis yet (well, not since high school :? ) but this might give you some help:

https://janefriedman.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis/

I would focus on the major players of your ensemble, and be a bit more general as to the various plot lines, maybe mentioning the 2-3 that are most all-encompassing, and a shorter mention of the rest. 3-10 pages seems pretty long for a synopsis though. I'm assuming you've checked the agent out to make sure he's got a good reputation, experience, etc.

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Brien Sz
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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby Brien Sz » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:49 am

Also, I wouldn't push that synopsis to ten pages. Agents are busy people and ten pages will seem like you are trying to cram every last ounce of information in. Make the synopsis as much of an overview as possible. I have written a couple and they are a bitch to do. Open up that doc and get writing because I can tell you, you are probably going to write a boatload of drafts before it's ready. If you're at page 5 and only half way through, you need to trim.

Format wise- depending on the font and size you use, you will have about 310-350 words a page, double spaced. Example, Times New Roman size 12, 300 to 310 per page. Calibri, default 11 in Word, 335 to 350 per page. My findings are based on my own works and so, your results may vary.

Good Luck

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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby mike m. » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:33 am

[quote="Roar822"]I have a potential agent I want to send my book to who I think might be interested in the subject. His requirements though are that he wants to see a synopsis of any work before he agrees to read the entire book. He wants the synopsis to be three to ten pages; double spaced with indented paragraphs that shows the main characters and their personalities and covers all major points of the book. My problem is that my book has fifteen characters, something of an ensemble, as well as several plot lines that all come together in the climax. The book is primarily a horror/fantasy, but contains a great deal of humor (well, I think it's funny :) ) mostly involving banter between some of the characters. How can I get all of that in three to ten double spaced pages? I did manage to do a synopsis that was seven pages, but it just describes the bare bones of the story missing the 'feel' of the actual story. If I submit that I'm afraid it won't make the book sound very interesting, but if I go beyond the ten page limit (I actually wrote a second synopsis that I feel does properly represent the book's nature at twenty pages) I'm afraid the agent will reject it unread for violating the guidelines. Have any of you had this problem and if so how did you deal with it? :?: :?[/quote]
---

Give the agent what he asked for. This is for him not for you.
15 characters and 3 plot lines would give you a working budget of 1 page for the ensemble, 1/2 page for each person, and 3 for the plot.
And a couple of spare pages if you really must describe what the story is about in more detail or are wordy on the characters.

If you cant make it sound interesting in ten pages it wont be interesting at 200 when its published.

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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby mike m. » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:37 am

[quote="Brien Sz"]Also, I wouldn't push that synopsis to ten pages. Agents are busy people and ten pages will seem like you are trying to cram every last ounce of information in. Make the synopsis as much of an overview as possible. I have written a couple and they are a bitch to do. Open up that doc and get writing because I can tell you, you are probably going to write a boatload of drafts before it's ready. If you're at page 5 and only half way through, you need to trim.

Format wise- depending on the font and size you use, you will have about 310-350 words a page, double spaced. Example, Times New Roman size 12, 300 to 310 per page. Calibri, default 11 in Word, 335 to 350 per page. My findings are based on my own works and so, your results may vary.

Good Luck[/quote]
=====

I would not push my luck using a low x height font like times roman, nor anything less than 12 point.
Agents want something easy to read not something you packed the most words onto a page with.
Often they specify the point size and even the font as Courier in addition to those margins and other formatting so as to avoid authors playing games with the layout.

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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby MayaS » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:10 am

Ok, I kind'a have the opposite problem, but I might as well ask here and not create a new topic.

What parts of the story are considered worthy of a synopsis? Do you think just the plot turns and a few words about how they've affected the story? Or should I go in more detail. I'm worried if my synopsis is too short it would look like I'm not trying hard enough.

Roar822, I think you got some pretty good advice, but I just want to ask are all your 15 characters equally important? I'd choose the main characters and go in a bit more detail, then just mention the others, if that's possible.

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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby Oldtimer » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:12 am

A synopsis is a condensed version of the whole story, spoilers and all, revealing all characters. Their names are put in capital letters the first time they are mentioned. It is one of the most difficult parts of writing - one that I have yet to master.
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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby rob-lost » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:33 am

@MayaS:
Consider the majors "phases" of the story. Then give some leeway to let the reader of the synopsis get to know your characters a bit.

For example:
1. Character at home. Disaster strikes.
2. Character leaves home. World is not nice.
3. Character despairs.
4. Character meets companion.
5. Character and companion learn to be together.
6. Encounter villain/antagonist.
7. Discover their ability to overcome
8. Character and companion fall in love
9. Companion taken
10. Antagonist defeated/overcome.

That's just a sample of one kind of story. But once you can think in that broad sense, you can then give yourself the framework for writing the synopsis. In the above case, I'd want to provide 200-500 words on each section.

That's how I've done it, anyway.
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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby mike m. » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:00 am

[quote="MayaS"]Ok, I kind'a have the opposite problem, but I might as well ask here and not create a new topic.

What parts of the story are considered worthy of a synopsis? Do you think just the plot turns and a few words about how they've affected the story? Or should I go in more detail. I'm worried if my synopsis is too short it would look like I'm not trying hard enough.

Roar822, I think you got some pretty good advice, but I just want to ask are all your 15 characters equally important? I'd choose the main characters and go in a bit more detail, then just mention the others, if that's possible.[/quote]
============

worry that it is too long not too short

you try hard when you make an interesting story
the synopsis should be what the agent/publisher says they want it to be

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Re: How do y'all do a synopsis?

Postby mike m. » Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:05 am

[quote="Oldtimer"]A synopsis is a condensed version of the whole story, spoilers and all, revealing all characters. Their names are put in capital letters the first time they are mentioned. It is one of the most difficult parts of writing - one that I have yet to master.[/quote]
======

WD says: A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends. It ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story.

a literary consultancy in UK says:
The dictionary definition of ‘synopsis’ (derived from the Ancient Greek meaning) is ‘a brief description of the contents of something’.
The purpose of a synopsis is to inform a literary agent or publisher of the type of book you are writing/have written in a concise, appealing fashion, conveying that you are in command of your subject matter. If you want your manuscript to be given serious consideration, a good synopsis is a crucial part of your submission.

agent jane friedman says:
Unfortunately, there is no single “right” way to write a synopsis. You’ll find conflicting advice about the appropriate length, which makes it rather confusing territory for new writers especially. However, I recommend keeping it short, or at least starting short. Write a one-page synopsis—about 500-600 words, single spaced—and use that as your default, unless the submission guidelines ask for something longer. Most agents/editors will not be interested in a synopsis longer than a few pages.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the synopsis just details the plot. That will end up reading like a very mechanical account of your story, and won’t offer any depth or texture; it will read like a story without any emotion.

Think what it would sound like if you summarized a football game by saying. “Well, the Patriots scored. And then the Giants scored. Then the Patriots scored twice in a row.” That’s sterile and doesn’t give us the meaning behind how events are unfolding. Instead, you would say something like, “The Patriots scored a touchdown after more than one hour of a no-score game, and the underdog of the team led the play. The crowd went wild.”

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