Ask Daphne! Scared of My Synopsis

August 14th, 2008 • Kate

Ok, so these Louboutin fish shoes aren’t truly scary unless you’re an Ichthyophobe, but they are kinda cute. And thus for Brenda, who writes:

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve put off querying KT Literary with my middle grade novel, because I saw that you want a synopsis with the partial if the query draws your interest. I don’t like my synopsis, although my query is good. How important is a synopsis in determining whether or not you request the full? What is the biggest thing you’re looking for in one?

I will be perfectly honest here, Brenda, and will pull back the curtain a little on my reading processes.
I used to read everything to the very end, whether I liked it or not. For years, every manuscript got a full read, even if I knew on page two it wasn’t for me. Luckily, I wised up to time management, and learned to stop when I knew what my decision was going to be. But that hasn’t stopped me wanting to know what’s going to happen in something I read.
And so — I request a full synopsis with your partial so that if I like what I’m reading, like the ideas you’ve come up with and some of your characters, but I know that I’m going to say “no thanks”, I can read the synopsis and be able to come away with a sense of completion. So the biggest thing I’m looking for in a synopsis is a full sense of the action of a book. As I say in my emails to request material, “For our purposes, the synopsis should include the full plot of the book including the conclusion.”
The between the lines answer there? If I’m going to request a full, I don’t read the synopsis at all. I don’t want my reading experience spoiled by knowing what’s going to happen, so I guess you could say it’s not at all important in determining whether or not I request the full.

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4 Responses to “Ask Daphne! Scared of My Synopsis”

  1. Emily Says:

    This is really good to know! Thanks!

  2. Trish Says:

    Brenda, one thing that helped me when I wrote my synopsis was to pretend I was telling (speaking to) someone about my book. My goal was to get the story down as succinctly as possible, then go back and clean it up. Mine's not perfect by a long shot, but it got the job done.

  3. brendao Says:

    Thanks for this fear-quashing answer, Daphne! And I appreciate the advice, Trish. I'll work on it.

  4. Sandy Williams Says:

    "I request a full synopsis with your partial so that if I like what I'm reading, like the ideas you've come up with and some of your characters, but I know that I'm going to say "no thanks", I can read the synopsis and be able to come away with a sense of completion."
    I don't know why, but I got a kick out of reading that. I totally understand it, too. I've picked up a few books over the years that I haven't liked, but I forced myself to at least skim through them because I needed to know the resolution to the story. It just never occurred to me that agents needed that "sense of completion" too. 🙂