Synopsis woes...cause really, why read the Synopsis crapometer

Dear Miss Snark,

As I was preparing a partial and a synopsis to go out to an agent this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice that my synopsis sucked. Not just a little suck. A suck like the Vaccu-flex 3000 Maxi-Bag. Not grammatically or logically or any of those quantifiable fashions, but stylistically. Quite simply, my amazing masterwork is presented as a tactless, gutted, unappealing skeleton of a novel in two concise pages.

Please tell me that the agent will glance briefly at this only to make sure that I didn't have any aliens landing with George Clooney to resolve the major plot issues at the end, and will then go on to read my brilliant prose in the novel itself?

How much weight does the synopsis carry?

The purpose of a synopsis is both what it has (plot, ending, narrative arc) and what it does not have (aliens arriving in chapter 14, no resolution/deus ex machina resolution, no plot at all).

I don't read your synopsis for style. That said, look at each word and see if there is a leaner, more kick ass word, a word with energy and vitality, you can use in its place.

You don't want every said to be snarled/hummed/purred/choked by any means.

You do however want Walther ppk rather than handgun; licensed to kill rather than tough guy; and Pussy Galore instead of everyone else.

I guess I've been watching too much Casino Royale.

You get the idea.

Kick ass and take names (instead of good luck)


Elektra said...

I just watched Casino Royale last night, and couldn't stop wondering why they didn't just put in one of those cameras like the poker shows have. I mean, they have instant poison alerts, but not the technology of ESPN?

Maggie Stiefvater said...

As a fairly new Snarkling, I had not realized that the Happy Hooker Crapometer did anything but first pages or queries. For those young lambies who were as clueless as I, I had to google to find the archives of the synopses: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2005_12_25_archive.html

Unknown said...

How long should a synopsis be? One page, one page per 10K? It's very confusing.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for this post. I met an editor who requested a one page synopsis, and it's putting me to sleep. By the time I eliminate any sub-plot threads and secondary character arcs, it looks like everything that happens is either too much of a coincidence or contrived. I know you can't go into details in a short synopsis, but this one-pager (thank goodness it's ok to single space) is driving me nuts, especially since it's romantic suspense, and the "rules" require full story development for both hero and heroine along with all the GMC stuff for each. It's like writing 2 separate books to begin with. The synopsis guides I've seen also list the 'must show' moments for the relationship side. By the time you cover h/h first meet, first kiss, first sex, falling in love moment, black moment & resolution, there's hardly room for the mystery/suspense plot. At least I can go back and try to kick up the word selection.

And on the other side, an agent requested a chapter by chapter summary. I keep telling myself I should be writing those as I complete each chapter in the writing process, but I never listen.

Anonymous said...

How in the hell could you watch too much of Casino Royale?

ORION said...

You will never NOT have to do synopses.
I have had to do more since my book sold than I did before.
I am REALLY sorry to have to tell you all this.

Word ver:

A cross between a Hummer and an antelope

Anonymous said...

Too much Casino Royale?
Too much Daniel Craig?
Will I have to go to a support group for this?

Anonymous said...

I think I must have about five different ones for each piece I write...even in the short story market editors requests will vary. Some want one page, others one-two...and then there are those who want five and so on. There are also those who want a chapter by chapter synopsis (which is a good tool, though torture)In this case it really is about following the guidelines...they are usually very clear.

Berry K said...

Wasn't Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, not Casino Royale?

Anonymous said...

I just saw Honor Blackman in a Bond Girls segment and she still looks damn good.

Anonymous said...

Pussy Galore was not the only Ian Fleming heroine. There were Kissy Suzuki and Miss Goodhead also.

I think Fleming was trying to say something with these names, but for the life of me I cannot make out what it was.