Writers Tricks of the Trade ISSUE 1, VOLUME 9 - Page 39

H OW TO W RITE A N OVEL S YNOPSIS J ANE F RIEDMAN P HOTO BY REAMYDE / F LICKR Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the co-founder (with WU’s Porter Ander- son) of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media (home to Writer’s Digest) and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Note from Jane: The following post is an old favorite that I regularly update. (Republished with permission) T HE S YNOPSIS I t’s probably the single most despised document you might be asked to pre- pare: . The synopsis is sometimes re- quired because an agent or publisher wants to see, from beginning to end, what hap- pens in your story. Thus, the synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending. Don’t confuse the synopsis with sales copy—the kind of material that might ap- pear on your back cover or in an Amazon description. You’re not writing a punchy marketing piece for readers that builds ex- W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE citement. It’s not an editorial about your book. Unfortunately, there is no single “right” way to write a synopsis. You’ll find conflict- ing advice about the appropriate length, which makes it rather confusing territory for new writers especially. However, I rec- ommend keeping it short, or at least start- ing short. Write a one-page synopsis— about 500-600 words, single spaced—and use that as your default, unless the submis- sion guidelines ask for something longer. If your synopsis runs longer, anything up to two pages (again, single spaced) is usually acceptable. Most agents/editors will not be P AGE 34 S PRING 2019