1. TheFinalguy

    TheFinalguy Member

    Dec 19, 2017
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    Synopsis What are most agents referring to as a synopsis?

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by TheFinalguy, Jul 8, 2018.

    So, I always thought the synopsis was what you would see on the back of a book, briefly discussing the central settings, characters, and themes, hinting towards the conclusion of where the story would lead. Apparently I am wrong? Most agents require a synopsis upon submission, so this is always what I used... Not quite sure what the difference is between a synopsis, abstract, summary and overview are now. All the definitions are jumbled as heck. Anyone brave enough to specify?
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    A synopsis is a straightforward summary of what happens in the book, including the conclusion. I'm not familiar with anyone using the term abstract for fiction, but I'd say synopsis, summary, and overview are more or less the same thing. Possibly more detail in a synopsis? When I've done them I've gone chapter by chapter, showing how the story progresses. It's usually suggested that a bit of the novel's tone comes through in the synopsis (eg. if you've written a funny, wry novel, have a bit of humour and wryness in your synopsis) but it's not meant to be a sales tool, like the back-of-the-book blurb would be.

    Does that make sense?
  3. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

    Mar 25, 2017
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    To my knowledge—

    A synopsis is a direct explanation of the story’s plot. Usually 1-2 pages, sometimes 3-5. The agent will usually specify the length they want. The synopsis directly tells you the conclusion of the story. You can google “synopsis examples” and find some.

    When an agent reads your synopsis, they want to see the story makes sense. If you’re writing a mystery, they want to know who the killer is and how the heroes stop him. If you’re writing a romance, the agent wants to make sure your main characters actually get together. A synopsis gives and overview of the major plot points and explains the ending.

    A query (basically a summary) is “the back of the book.” It’s a short, enticing hook, usually 150-300 words long. The query’s job is to hook the agent (or reader) and make them read your book.

    Most agents I’ve seen want both. First the query (in the email you send) and then the synopsis (usually attached to the email, I think).

    You give the query (the hook) and then the synopsis (overview of the whole book, all major spoilers included).
    Sher Duncan and TheFinalguy like this.

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