Hey guys! I’m still here. I wish I had a reason for my silence, like I was writing another book or something equally exciting but, I don’t. Sorry. I have, however, started rereading the manuscript I wrote early last year while querying (I wrote to distract myself from the stress of querying. Anyone else do that?). I decided to change a couple of minor details, and while I could have gone to the specific scenes and changed them rather easily, I decided to refresh my memory of the story and characters and start from the beginning. On Sunday, I only had time to read two chapters. Last night, I read over fifty pages as I found myself sucked into the world once more. This story, a YA fantasy, was meant to be a standalone, but all day today I was playing around with ideas for a potential sequel. I did this last year too, while writing it (and afterwards, too!), but I never jotted any of them down because… Well, I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure after I finish my reread, I’ll make some notes this time around. And we’ll see what happens!
Just a quick note to let you all know that my lovely agent, Brittany Booker, has launched The Booker Albert Literary Agency! They are accepting queries, so check them out to see if your manuscript matches their interests.
I’ve also been getting quite a bit of traffic thanks to their site, so hello to everyone who’s been dropping by! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about writing, querying, or any of that fun stuff, and I’ll do my best to answer.
When you’re querying, you will find that most agents request a synopsis along with a query. The synopsis, for those of you who don’t know, is a short summary of your book. In other words, you need to take your 74,000 word novel and summarize it in 500 words! Fun, right?
Impossible, I declared. I complained and cried, pouted and moaned, and finally sat my butt down and wrote. First attempt, 1400 words. Okay, that’s a bit too long. I cried some more, and then my lovely friend shared a great link in which the author summarized Star Wars in a few short, compact paragraphs. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen that movie enough times to know it backwards and forwards, but after reading the synopsis, something just clicked. My second attempt was in the 500 word range, and became the synopsis I used when querying agents. And I actually had fun while writing it! Who expected that? Certainly not me!
So what did I do? I focused on the facts by following the main storyline that starts at the beginning and takes us all the way through to the end. Anything that I considered a side story, or not important to the main storyline, I omitted. Sure, it’s still important, but when you’re trying to tell an agent your entire story in about 500 words, you really don’t need to write about a fight your main character had with her parents when it’s quickly resolved a few chapters later, no harm done. If the fight she had with her parents triggered something major to happen, then yes, you would include it. But all the little things that happen to your characters that you may have spent weeks writing? Don’t even mention them in your synopsis.
You also need to keep your sentences precise and to the point. Use as little words as possible, and don’t feel weird if you’re summarizing an entire chapter in one sentence. That’s actually really good! Each word is important, so make sure they all count!
The main reason I had fun while writing the synopsis was because I stuck as close to my narrator’s voice as possible. Yes, my book was written in the first person and yes, the synopsis must be written in the third person, but as I wrote it, I imagined that my narrator was telling the story. For example, how did she feel when this scene happened? Writing with your character in mind gives the synopsis a unique flair, making it much more interesting than the basic “and then this happened” ones.
Coming up with a working synopsis will take time, so don’t give up if your first few attempts are too long or too wordy. Keep trying (you might want to start from scratch each time, but that’s up to you), and eventually you will succeed! Good luck! For more tips, please see this great post!
My friend Amy recently wrote a fantastic post about querying, which you can read here. For anyone who plans on querying, this is a must-read!
It also saves me from writing my own post about querying. In all honestly, I was rather awful at it! I wrote about six or seven drafts, and ended up sending two different versions out. After the first version received zero requests, I wrote a more personal version and got my first (and only!) request for a full read. Luckily for me, that one request turned in to an offer, and I no longer had to worry about querying. I should probably mention that I only sent out twenty-six queries, so I’m not sure if the newer, better version would have received more requests for partial/full reads. Maybe, maybe not. All I know is, I did not enjoy writing queries!
But I did have fun with the synopsis, a topic I hope to address in an upcoming post!