I’m currently working with two editing partners whom I met via the Margie Lawson online class. We are working together through another packet and we’re exchanging chapters. My two partners have completed their novels while I am still plugging away with new material and incorporating new concepts to keep the reader’s eyes on the page.

As part of our chapter exchanges, we’ve included a synopsis of our work and because the second part of Julius has been dramatically changed, I decided to overhaul my synopsis. As much as I hated writing it this time it was easier to draft. It’s still very rough, but the story seems to have more tension and conflict.

Right now the synopsis logs in at almost 1200 words, or three pages. Is it too short or too long? According to The Guide of Literary Agents a synopsis should be as short as possible. The average length is 7-8 pages. A general rule is to have one page of synopsis for every 25 pages of your work, but remember—the shorter the better. Writer’s Digest offers a similar rule, but this one varies to one page per every 35 pages of your novel. However, they note that it is better to write both a long and short version (one to two pages) because agents really don’t have time to read an eight page summary. So here I thought I could get away with three pages, and I see I’ll have to write several versions in varying lengths.

One blogger actually had a great exercise and that was to summarize each chapter in a paragraph and then tighten it down to down to a couple of sentences. This is where Scrivener’s index cards come into play (also the outliner). Assuming you’ve been summarizing each chapter, all you have to do is print out each index card or the outline and then start composing that dreaded synopsis.

I realize that once Julius has “THE END” written I’ll write one final synopsis, but this time the feeling of doom won’t be so bad since I’ll have all my versions to give one last tweak.

3 comments
Jessica Kuzmier
Jessica Kuzmier

Hey Rebeca, good luck on the synopsis. It can be tough to distill a whole novel into such a small space of words. Your "practice" synopses sound like a good idea. Hope the index cards help.

Amanda Borenstadt
Amanda Borenstadt

Great post! :)
An agent once asked me for a 1 to 2 page synopsis. I gave him a 3 page one. Then he asked for a one page synopsis. No fudging- had to be one page. I think he was punishing me. LOL But aaak! That was hard to write. You have to distill it down, but make it interesting? I don't think I'll ever get the hang of it.

RS
RS

Thanks for stopping by Amanda. I can't imagine getting it down to one page. I suppose, though, if I can tweet less than 140 characters, I can write a 250 word synopsis.