1. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    HELP! I'm in synopsis hell!!!!

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by rylotajo, Jun 5, 2009.

    Okay, I finished my novel, I finished editing it, and now I'm trying to write a synopsis, which is not going so well. Does anyone know the standard length of a synopsis? I've read anywhere from 2-20 pages. I am now on page 5, and I'm only half way through my 400+ page novel. At this rate it will end up being 10+ pages! Is that too long? Who ever thought of the idea of a synopsis is a freaking moron! How the hell am I supposed to condence 400 pages into 10, make it flow easily, and be interesting enough for an agent to request more? Ugh! :confused: I've outlined the crap out of it, and put in what I thought was necessary, and I can't seem to get it cut down any, and I still have more to go. Anyway, sorry for ranting, but I think this is ending up being more difficult than writing the novel. I've been working on it for 2 weeks now, that's really pathetic! Any encouraging thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no standard length... and i doubt you'll be asked for a 5-pager [or anything longer] by more than a few agents/publishers... i'd stop there and also prepare a single page and a 2-pager, so whatever you're asked for, you'll have one handy and ready to send...

    have you knocked off your killer query letter yet?

    and have you had someone knowledgeable take a look at your ms to see if it's really ready to be seen?
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    With your synopsis, if its still too long (which at 5 pages it is, I'd say no more than 2...) cut out anything that isn't compelling...only give the details that will make the reader want to read it...
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    5 pages is far, far too long. Id agree with arron, two pages is what you should be aiming for. I'd guess either you're writing the synopsis in too much depth, or your novel is far too convoluted and and overcomplex.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You want a 1 page synopsis and maybe a 2 page synopsis.

    Yes, it is.


    You will do it by sitting back, taking a deep breath and including in the synopsis only the main thrust and turning events of the story.

    If you have trouble doing this, consider how hard it is for someone to put together a 10 to 20 second pitch (verbal) for their novel.

    Yes, it is a difficult task.

    Go ahead and finish your synopsis. Then go back at it and start cutting and cutting and cutting, keeping in mind that minor plot twists and characters and events have no place in a synopsis. Depth of characterization have little place in a novel synopsis. You need to get the setting, main action, who is involved, what's at stake and the resolution, not a summary of everything that happens from beginning to end.

    Once you have trimmed it as much as you can, have someone(s) who read your full manuscript go over the synopsis and tell you what you need to cut, or what might need to be there, then trim based upon their input.

    Then, have someone who is well read and sharp, who has not read your manuscript, read your synopsis, and see what they have to say. What makes sense, if something is unclear, what also can be cut.

    Hopefully this should get you down to one page.

    Terry
     
  6. chandler245
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    chandler245 Banned

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    Its called a migrain, I have about 13 sysnopsis written out, and no matter how many times you write it it will or seem to get longer, just find the main points of your story and what will make it the best, no lazyness allowed, and go from there.
     
  7. destiny101
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    destiny101 New Member

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    I always thought that a one page synopsis is best, and 2 is the maximum.
    I have the same problem when writing a synopsis for my work, so what I started doing is speaking it outloud as if I was just telling a friend what my book is about. If you were telling a friend about your work, there's no way you'd say 10 pages worth of stuff to him. As you're speaking it outloud, record what you say and then just type it up afterwards. Then you can go through and fix the language a bit. Remember that you really don't need to give massive amounts of detail. I know it's hard, good luck! I hope my advice helps you get out of synopsis hell :p
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not a matter of what the writer thinks is 'best' or 'the maximum' but of what each agent and publisher requires... they are who you're writing the synopsis for... and if you don't supply what they call for, you'd be limiting your chances of being accepted as a client/author...
     
  9. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    Thanks for the advice, I absolutely do not want it to be 5-10 pages, I agree that it is too much, it's just hard to get it all in on 2 pages. Many agents don't request a synopsis, just a query, atleast from my experience, but I wanted one anyway to send with the query. My query letter is kind of short, I get right to the point, so I thought having the synopsis to go with it would be a better way to go. As for a killer query, I think mine is pretty good. I sent it to one agent who replied within an hour for a partial, so I think that's pretty good. I've had a few people read it, all seem to think it looks great. I'm very leery about posting my work, even a query letter, but I also would love some feedback as well. As for my manuscript, I've had two people read it, not in the industry, but who both are avid readers and they were definitely brutal with it. My first 10 chapters had more red ink than black. It took me almost 2 months to edit it. Soooo, I guess I will keep crackin' at it. I figure I'll just write it, then I'll start cutting it down and go from there. Thanks for your comments!
     
  10. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    But that's so hard......I know I have to cut, but it's all important damnit! ;o) Thanks!
     
  11. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    It's definitely not convoluted or complex, it's a young adult novel, so it pretty straight forward. I just feel the need to explain each detail and not want to leave anything out, I think that's my problem. I'll just keep writing and then start cutting when I'm done. Thanks for your input!
     
  12. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    Thanks!

    Thanks Terry, you have some really good points. I did decide to just keep going on with it and then cut things out after. So much happens in the beginning of the novel, and I think I feel like I need to capture as much as I can in order for the second half of the synopsis to make sense. Does that make sense? :confused: Ah hell! Thank you for your input, I like the idea of someone who has read the manuscript to read it, and someone who hasn't, that will be valuable feedback.
     
  13. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    But laziness is so easy.........;) Thank you for your input, I appreciate it!
     
  14. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    Thank you! Your right, I think I just need to find the right information instead of focusing on getting all the information. I like the idea of speaking outloud, I'll have to try that, thanks!
     
  15. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    I'm actually very surprised at how many agents don't require a synopsis, I just assumed that they all would. Most agent websites I have come across say a "brief synopsis", so really that is what I am pushing for, it's just hard to get the "brief" part down.:D
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Even if they don't explicitly request a synopsis, you need to be able to tell them enough about your story in the query letter to get them interested...saying your mss is a young adult novel is (generally) not enough for a first time writer...you should be able to condense your novel into one or two sentences....maybe if you're having trouble with a synopsis, start with that one sentence that summarises the plot of your novel and add details in order of importance until you have the basic outline of your book.
     
  17. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    I don't just say that it is a young adult novel, I actually have two full paragraphs, along with my hook sentence in the query. I just want to write the synopsis in case it's asked for, and I'm having difficulties condensing it down to 2 pages, when I feel like there is so much more that I could write. This is my first time writing one, so I'm resigned to the fact that it will be a trial and error process, and I'll probably have to write it a few times, it's just frustrtating.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd strongly suggest you not send the synopsis unless one is specifically asked for... adding stuff an agent hasn't asked for can get your query tossed, or stuck on the bottom of the pile...
     
  19. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I hate that there is so much conflicting information about query letters, and what to send and what not to send. It all just makes the entire process so difficult.
     
  20. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing "conflilcting" about the query process. Just send each literary agent exactly what they request in their submission guidelines. Those guidelines will often even tell you what they want as internal content in the query letter. Just give'm what they want.
     
  21. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, send what they want.

    Sometimes there is overlap, where one agent/publisher will want only a cover letter (query), others will want a cover letter and synopsis, some will want cover letter, synopsis and first three chapters. Some will want a cover letter and first chapter, etc., etc., etc., Some even ask for an outline.

    Thus, if your first attempts to acquire representation for your novel (or a publisher) don't succeed right off the bat, you will have the materials to send to send to others, as they request in their guidelines.

    Whatever you do, make sure you modify each submission/contact to suit. Don't send out 'generic' query letters. Make sure each part of the submisssion package is formatted as requested, etc.

    As an editor, I have seen cover letters addressed to other than the magazine where I read slush and edit. I've seen manuscripts that are marked on the first page as 'disposable' yet we're a market that accepts only online submissions--not paper. Things like that stand out, and not in a positive way.

    Our magazine won't toss a submission for one of the reasons listed above, but it doesn't help with a good first impression. Don't give the individual that you are sending to a reason to pass on your work.

    Terry
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all that from salty and terry!
     
  23. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    What I meant by conflicting is that there are so many websites and books that suggest how to write a query letter and none of them are the same other than making sure you have a "hook". I do tailor my letters to individual agents, I am very meticulous about making sure they are perfect. Even the agents are bad, I've read articles and interviews where an agent has specifically stated to keep the query short, and then go on about how so and so queried him, and even though it was 3 pages long, he really liked it. I guess it's just the luck of the draw. Thanks!
     
  24. rylotajo
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    rylotajo Member

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    Thanks, I do send what they want, even as frustrating as that is sometimes. I appreciate your input, thank you!:)
     
  25. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier Member

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    I would say introduce the character (maybe add in his dilemma if your book presents it boldly in the beginning), hit a few major notes on what might be happening (leave out spoilers though), and maybe pose a question. what ever length that lands on BAM there ya go. well unless they are asking for a specific length then yeah......what i just said is pointless.
     

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