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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Query letters-Part 2: The Synopsis

Hello and welcome back for another installment on my query letter writing “workshop.”  Please remember that all agents are different and what works for me, may not work for you! 

So, now onto the next part of your letter.  They synopsis.  So you’ve drawn in the agent with your hook and they want to keep reading and find out what’s going on with your book.

This is the most difficult part of the letter for me.  Because you want to give the agent enough to realize what the plot is, but not so much you give it all away.  Basically, you want to have a back of the book blurb here. You also want to end this on a hook.  And in this particular synopsis you don’t want to give the ending away.  Make it sweet and simple, yet fascinating. 

Grab the agent’s attention and make them want to read the pages you’ve included or make them want to request them if they only have the query.

However, avoid using rhetorical questions.  Agents tend to frown on it. 

Most people say the synopsis should be no more than a paragraph, but it’s probably okay to have two if you absolutely need it.  Try for one though, if you can.  Remember there’s still more you need to include in letter besides the book stuff, and you only get a page to do it. 

Here’s an example of the synopsis I used for Mirror Image:

After coming home from the hospital, Jackson starts showing up in reflective surfaces — mirrors, puddles, windows, you name it. Lily, fearing others will think she’s crazy, keeps the visions to herself. After all, they’ll just go away if she ignores them, right? Not if Jackson has anything to say about it. And it isn’t long before he convinces her he’s real. The more time she spends staring into her mirror, the more she realizes she’s falling in love with a boy her family and friends insist is nothing more than shadows in her mirror and the hallucinations of her healing head injury.

As you can see that even though my story is written in first person, past tense, the synopsis needs to be in third person, present tense.  Always.  I can’t think of any exception to that rule. 

Also, note there’s a lot of my character’s voice in this.  Lily is funny and a smart alec, but she has a romantic side, too.  Not to mention a bit of stubbornness.  If I’ve done this part right, you can see all this. 

This is what you strive for.  You want to SHOW the agent what your book is about.  If it’s a comedy don’t just say it’s funny.  Show that in your letter.

Okay, tomorrow, the details about your manuscript and personalization.