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Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: September 30th, 2011, 9:53 am
by Hillsy
I've been hunting this down on the net and haven't found a satisfactory answer yet.....The Bransford forums are always so good with these things, so I thought I'll throw it out there.

Nathan quotes the sweet-spot for a query letter to be 250-350 words. Lets say we take out 50 words of bio and we get 200-300 for the summary of the book....That seems fair, right?

Now...I'm from the UK, where "1 page synopsis" is usually asked for along with a cover letter/CV/introduction type thing. And pretty much everything is snail mailed. Problem is I've done some drafts and, on a normal business letter format, you don't get much more than 300 words on a neat, legible page of A4 anyway. And even if you did, you're talking probably 400 words max.

So my question is: When an agent asks for a cover letter and 1-page synopsis rather than the query letter, are they essentially the same thing? I'm struggling to see how a 250 word summary in a US style query letter is going to be all that different to a 350 synopsis.

Thoughts appreciated?

Re: Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: October 1st, 2011, 1:48 am
by Watcher55
Something you have to remember is that a synopsis is usually single spaced, so if you count the heading (and the space it takes up) it's 'bout 550 words (closer to 630 for a full page). Some agents do ask for a one page summary and 550 words still isn't a lot (I'm not even going to try unless I have to), but alot of agents allow for 2 pages.

I hope I answered the question you're asking.

Re: Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: October 1st, 2011, 2:02 am
by Quill
A query is a teaser blurb to encourage an agent or editor to request pages. It includes the hook (the unique and intriguing premise) and typically ends with the crux (the main dilemma/crossroads/choice to be made). It does not show the ending of the book.

A synopsis describes the entire plot, including the ending. It isn't hooky. It is expositional. Its purpose is to show the agent or editor exactly what the story is, to give them an accurate feel for the book as a whole.

Re: Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: October 2nd, 2011, 3:38 pm
by cheekychook
Yes, what Quill said.

The query should be short and should read like a back of the book blurb, enticing the reader, but not giving away the ending. The synopsis should include the entire story arc, including the ending, and should "walk" the reader through the story from start to finish with as much detail as length will allow.

Agents/editors read queries to decide if the book sounds interesting and if they might want to take a look at it, they use a synopsis to make sure the book has a solid beginning, middle and end as well as good plot line and character development so they don't waste time reading a book that doesn't contain those elements.

Re: Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: October 3rd, 2011, 6:09 pm
by Hillsy
I think you've hit the nail on the head there Watcher.

Going from 200-250 words for a synopsis summary to around 600 makes a lot more sense than what I was originally formatting out of a sheet at closed to 350-400. My current query is 277 words long so I could expand on that much more happily knowing I've got another 300 words to play with rather than a paltry 100 or so. To me, without a query letter as a foundation, I foresaw just my original query with an extra paragraph to cover the ending - which confused me a bit. I was worried that the terminology meant that a 1-page synopsis was a query letter under a different name.

Got a knew target to aim at know - brilliant!
Cheers

Re: Synopsis - query duality??

Posted: October 18th, 2011, 9:15 pm
by theresatroutman
Think of the query as your "elevator pitch." You want to hook the potential agent and intrigue them to want to read your book.
The synopsis will give the overview of the entire story (beginning, middle and end)

Good Luck!