The Importance of a Synopsis

At the moment, I am standing neck-deep in the query process, waiting anxiously to hear back from agents who are currently reviewing my full manuscript. It’s nerve-wracking to say the least.

There are many valuable lessons I’m learning along the way, though, including the benefits of rejection, as well as the importance of a well-written synopsis.

While the query letter is a must for any writer looking for representation, not every agent requests a synopsis of your novel. When I first set off on my journey to find an agent, my first round of queries were sent to those who required just a query, or a query and a sample of my manuscript — both of those I had already. At the end of my list of potential reps are those that also require a synopsis for consideration — that was one thing I didn’t have.

This week I set out to write just that, figuring that I might need it should the top of my list end in ultimate rejection. What I’ve come to learn in my research for how to write a synopsis is that I should have written this much earlier; in fact, maybe it should have been the very first thing I wrote before diving headfirst into the prose itself.

I was most struck when I came across a post on PublishingCrawl.com titled, of all things, “How to Write a 1-Page Synopsis.”

Just what I needed.

In this piece, author Susan Dennard offers a wonderful template that you can use to form your own book’s synopsis; it looks a little something like this:

  1. Opening image
  2. Protagonist intro
  3. Inciting incident
  4. Plot point 1
  5. Conflicts & character encounters
  6. Midpoint
  7. Winning seems imminent, but…
  8. Black moment
  9. Climax
  10. Resolution
  11. Final image

Dennard goes into more detail, so I highly recommend checking out the post.

I used her template for my manuscript and, as I was going through it, I will admit that I was finding some holes in my own novel — holes that one agent helpfully pointed out to me in the notes I got back in her ultimate decline of representation.

I could have kicked myself! But, instead, I’m learning from it. I now have this simple, straightforward tool to help me better form my novels moving forward. Considering that I’m still pretty early on in my querying, I’m grateful to have found it now instead of after I’ve exhausted my agent wish list.

Now, I have some editing to do…

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