Today on Writer’s Glossary…
A synopsis serves as a tool to take the interest of an agent, or a publisher, or even a competition judge, but not readers. The essential requirement is that the synopsis must tell the complete tale of the novel, including the ending. That is where the skill lies.
A good synopsis surrenders the whole essence of the novel in a very short space. Think in
terms of a massive cheese being sampled by the thinnest imaginable slice one can cut so that the intended consumer (remember, that is not the reader, but the agent or publisher) understands its complexity, its crust, crumb, hardness or softness, taste and its lingering impression.
The writer must follow specific requirements in terms of the number of words, or of pages, requested and, unless very rarely suggested otherwise, the synopsis will be written in the present tense. The synopsis has to cover the plot of the novel, important sub plots and include only the significant characters, not everyone in the novel needs to be mentioned.
It is a tough challenge to distil one’s 350 pages, magnum opus, nursed and coddled through tortuous days and sleepless nights, into a one page, single spaced, 12 point, document, but that is the typical task.