Publishing – the synopsis

When you want a publisher or agent to accept your book, generally you need to submit a synopsis. The synopsis should be a basic summary of the plot and is written in the present tense. That should be easy, you might think, after all you have just written a hundred thousand words or more. Different publishers and agents have different constraints on the length of this document but for most of them it needs to be no more than 600 words long.

Now try and cram your well crafted novel into that number of words. I have to say that it’s not easy. My first attempt came to about 2500 words – only four times too large. After some fairly vicious cutting I was down to about 1200 words – still twice what it needs to be.

Time for a different approach. I found a good guide at that uses the plot of Star Wars as an example. One of the main pieces of advice is to only name three characters. When you think about it, it’s kind of obvious. If you’ve only got 600 words you can’t describe all your characters, their motivations and their actions throughout the book.

Another recommendation is to stick to the main plot and omit sub-plots. In the context of The Rage, this meant omitting all the stuff that explained the cause of the outbreak.

The final major guidance was to ensure that you reveal the ending. Well I was going to do that anyway but the temptation is there to embellish the finale.

So, after taking this advice, I was left with 620 words. After rewording some parts and culling a few unnecessary details I came in at 598 words.

Maybe next time I’ll write the synopsis before I write the book!