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The Blog of Anya Harker » Blog Archive » Synopsis/Query Thinky Thoughts

I’ve been working at the literary agency for about 8 weeks now, and I have to say I absolutely love every minute of the day. It’s a reminder that I’m happy as all get-out to be in the publishing industry and just hope I can get a good job when this internship is over!

While I’ve been at the agency, I’ve been doing a lot of read reports for some of the agents. What these are, are short summaries and critiques of manuscripts. I have to say? Doing these have been, quite possibly, the best exercise ever. I have one to two pages to both summarize the novel and also give my critique/recommendation which… isn’t a heck of a lot of space. However, the exercise of summarizing something I’m not familiar with has been such a great learning experience when drafting my own query letters and synopsises. (Synopsi??)

I challenge you this. If you’re having trouble figuring out your query/synopsis, pull a book down off the shelf — either one you know well or one you don’t. Read it again. (because if you’re not reading, you can’t write!) Then sit down and try to do the following: write a 35 word pitch, a query, and a synopsis. Then do it again for another book. And if you could use more practice? Do it again. Focus on the main character and the plot. What drives them forward?

We do this all the time when we sit down to tell a friend why they OMG have to read this book. But when we go to write a query letter and impress an agent, it’s hard — mostly because we start second guessing ourselves. We want to make it shine and be that diamond in the slush pile.

I say? Take a step back and work on the fundamentals and if you can easily summarize a story that belongs to someone else? It’s not so hard to do it to your own. Sure we want to include every miniscule plot detail, but that doesn’t work. I look at my new query and synopsis and I’m very, very happy with them both — but they also have been written after I started at the agency.

Good luck and query on!

One Response to “Synopsis/Query Thinky Thoughts”

  1. This is a good exercise!

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