Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

What is the purpose of a synopsis? Yeah, I know, it’s a summary of the 400-page manuscript you’ve been slaving over for the past year (or 3 or 5.) I get that. The agent/editor/publisher needs to know what the book is about without having to slog through the entire document–especially if it isn’t their genre. My question is why the hell does it have to be in the format they require?

Why can’t it be an outline or a chapter-by-chapter breakdown? Regardless if your book is written in first person/past tense, the synopsis has to be in third person/present tense.  What the heck is that all about?

Even though, I toiled for hours to get the best paragraph EVER to describe Ex-Ray in my query letter, I can’t use it in my synopsis.  Shoot, I could have written a third of a novel in the time I spent on that paragraph. Now, the synopsis?

So tell me, does this paragraph draw you in or what?

The isolation of Alaska’s arctic is the perfect place to hide. But you can’t outrun your past. Maggie Shaw flees an abusive husband and assumes a new life as Anne Sutton, a 911 emergency dispatcher. Her husband, Ray Malloy, a meth-dealing, dirty cop with a vicious temper and a powerful right hook, is determined to find her and the three million in drug money she stole. Using her computer hacking skills, Anne is able to stay one step ahead of Ray until he goes off the grid. Even though she lives her life with the constant threat of discovery, she’s eventually able to form deep friendships and even falls in love again—with Joe Carducci, the new cop in town. When Ray shows up in Barrow, Anne must overcome her fears to protect her friends from Ray’s violence.

Maybe the agent will be wowed and just ignore the synopsis. Any chance that’ll happen?

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Comments on: "Claire’s Synopsis AKA the Suc-Kop-Sis" (19)

  1. dukepennell said:

    Very nice work, Claire! You might want to consider keeping that one as an example to others of how it’s done. As a matter of fact, can I use it like that? With attribution, of course!

  2. For what it is worth, in my opinjon, this is excellent. All the key factors are there along with the voice, wit, and snark.

  3. mgmillerbooks said:

    No mutual admiration society here. It really is a good paragraph.

  4. You’re right — who needs a synopsis with a paragraph like this? It’s fabulous. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jan. Would mind including a note in my submission packet? Something along the lines of, “Claire’s a fabulous writer. Her synopsis sucks, but overlook that and go right to chapter one.” Signed, Epstein’s mother.

  5. rgayer55 said:

    Talk about wrapping it up in a nutshell. That was extremely clear, concise, and complete. Sounds like great ‘back cover’ copy to me.

  6. I agree whole heartedly. 🙂

  7. Oh Sweetie. It’s beautiful. But did you jump through the precise hoop that was dangled? I wonder often if agents are looking for talented, creative writers or searching for authors that are easy to work with.
    Well crap, did my negative attitude show its ugly face again?

    • No negative attitude showing here, Pam. I agree. I think the synopsis hoop is just that–a hoop. if you make it through, they make you do a few other tricks to see if you play well with others. And I do. I play well with others. I’m easy to get along with, just give me a damn contract already! 😉

  8. Madison Woods said:

    If I were an agent or editor, your paragraph would have been enough 😉

  9. It hooked me! Well done. I agree the suckopsis is the dreaded animal of the writer world. Weird rules. Just weirdness. And hardness. (No, this isn’t porn.) Good luck!

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