How to Write a Synopsis – Notes

 

The Literary Consultancy (TLC) were good enough to write about how to write a synopsis and cover letter. Here are my notes on what was written:

  • Synopsis definition: ‘a brief description of the contents of something’
  • Purpose: “to inform a literary agent or publisher of the type of book you are writing/have written in a concise, appealing fashion”
  • Submissions to agents and publishers should include a “cover letter, synopsis and sample chapters” rather than a whole work
  • A synopsis demonstrates that you know your story and that it is clear, persuasive or gripping
  • think of the project as an enjoyable literary exercise and an opportunity to show your work off in its essential form
  • For examples, refer to book blurbs or plot summaries in reference books or on Wikipedia
  • A synopsis should demonstrate where your work fits into the market. Think of marketing ‘hooks’ or current hot topics
  • A “fiction synopsis should comprise a brief summary followed by a more detailed synopsis”
  • But before this, know which genre you are writing in
  • Begin with a brief summary of 30–75 words (like you would see on the back of a book) to whet the appetite
  • Follow this with a more detailed synopsis of 350–450 words, but not a detailed chapter-by-chapter breakdown
  • Give “a detailed overview which clearly and concisely conveys how the story flows and unfolds and […] what is interesting about it”
  • Confirm when the story is set, the setting/background, the central and other pivotal characters, the dramatic turning points and any other salient information
  • The cover letter should be economically written and confident sounding
  • Address a well-researched literary agent by name
  • Say you are enclosing the synopsis of a book called ‘[title]’, which is a [genre] novel
  • Refer to writers you feel you are similar to
  • “If you have something interesting to say about yourself, such as that you have won a writing competition or published before in relevant publications, do include this briefly in the cover letter”
  • “Whilst it is worth spending time ensuring you have a good, short, confident cover letter, synopsis and it is important to stress that there is nothing as important to an editor than the quality of your writing and your ability to sustain the interest of a reader in the main body of the text.”

Note to self – next step: write the synopsis and cover letter.

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