Should a synopsis give a flavor for the writer's style, or do you view this simply as a means to an end--a tool to make sure the story has plot and doesn't veer off in any wierd directions?
I've heard some agents/editors say, lose the fancy stuff and just tell them the plot, then I've heard others say it should be a tool that sells your story AND your writing style. I guess it could be both but I know from my painful struggles that an effort to write both a pithy and artful synopsis often leads to insanity.
I can't tell you how many times I've had to rein in my voice in a synopsis because in trying to write it in the same voice I would the story, it ran too long. Now, my synopses have a little flavor for my voice, or I think they do, but recently a contest judge said my two-page (double spaced) synopsis didn't show off my voice. I'm not sure I believe her, but it did bring this question to mind. (Perhaps I'll send it through the crapometer and see what you think of it.)
Another related question is, in a short synopsis (500-1000 words), how much information do you really need? For both of my historical novels, the inciting situations involve complex backstory.
It would be impossible to give all the relevant setup info in the synopsis and still get through the entire plot, plus show emotional growth, motivation, goals, yada yada yada, yet inevitably, contest judges and sometimes crit partners want information that couldn't possibly fit into such a short space, or even into a four or five pager.
If you read a synopsis for example, feel reasonably comfortable with the setup (sounds realistic, interesting, etc), but perhaps don't know all the gory details of how it came about, is this ok and are you satisfied enough to find out in the pages?
A synopses is a blueprint of a novel. You show where the rooms are but now how they're furnished or what color the walls will be. A synopsis is a very bad tool for showing voice; you show voice in your sample pages. I can't imagine ever sending a synopsis without sending a sample of the writing along with it.
As you know by reading the blog, Miss Snark isn't much for backstory. In a historical novel you can assume some, if not most, of the backstory is known. You don't have to explain that in 1066 the Normans invaded England and go on for five paragraphs about why. 1066 conveys it all to an educated person. Same with "November 22, 1963".
Feel free to send it through the Crapometer, I hear it's chewing it's way back to NYC as we speak, currently in a feeding frenzy in Crawford, Texas.