Writing Resource—Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript—Part III

format-submit manuscriptThis week, I’m continuing my series on tips for novel synopsis formatting. Here’s the only place you can “tell” rather than “show.” Click to Tweet #amwriting #synopsis

“With a synopsis, do not intrude in the narrative flow with authorial commentary, and do not let the underlying story framework show. Don’t use heading such as “Setting” or phrases like “At the climax of the conflict…” or “The next chapter begins with…” In short, do not let it read like a nonfiction outline.” Ian Bessler former Writer’s Digest Books editor.

Again, I want to encourage you to research the specific agents and publishers for their formatting advice when getting ready to submit a book proposal and synopsis. We’ll talk more about book proposals in a week or two…everything from a bare bones proposal to one with bells and whistles, details, to summaries, etc.

Other Dos and Don’ts

  • Keep in mind, this is a sales pitch. Make it short, fast, and exciting.
  • Establish a hook at the beginning. Introduce the lead character and set up a key conflict.
  • This is a given, but introduce your most important character first.
  • Provide some details about your central character (age, gender, marital status, profession, etc.) Repeat only for your primary characters.
  • Include characters’ motives and emotions
  • Highlight pivotal plot points
  • Reveal the novel’s ending
  • Don’t go into detail about what happens; just tell what happens. (It’s okay to “tell” in a synopsis.)
  • Keep dialogue out
  • Write in third person, present tense, even if your novel is in first person.

Synopsis tips 2Electronic Submission

Pretty much the same applies. Here’s a few tips for email submission

  • Follow the same formatting specs for a paper synopsis.
  • When sending your synopsis via email, put the name of your novel in the subject line.
  • Send the synopsis as an attachment to your email unless the editor or agent requests otherwise.
  • Include your cover letter in the body of your email and your cover page and table of contents in the file along with the synopsis.

Other Tips:

  • Don’t use ALL CAPS in your subject line (of your email)
  • Don’t submit a synopsis electronically unless the editor or agent requests it (however, most do these days. This shows how dated this book is).
  • Don’t justify text or align the right margin.

Remember, these are guidelines. It’s always best to check with the agent or publisher for their specific criteria. Click to Tweet #amwriting #synopsis

What about you? What variations have you seen in submission requirements? Leave a comment and let me know.

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