Sunday, July 01, 2007


Do you give the ending away in your synopsis or don't you? That is the question.
My own personal-without-merit-opinion is no.
But that is subjective.
I see this circular argument on ALL writing/querying message boards. BUT. BUT. BUT.
I hear you say. OK. I could be wrong. (but I don't think I am)
I wanted an agent to read my full manuscript when I was querying. I told enough to get them interested but not too much.
What do you think?
By the way.
I felt so so so sorry for poor manic mom. She sounded so excited I put her out of her misery and....(drum roll) AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE REAL DEAL LOTTERY is on its way to her.
I emailed her back telling her this as she was SO dutiful to ask to be on my mailing list.
This was my top secret contest NOBODY knew about -- not even me at first.
MYA HA HA.....
Her responsibility is to give a play by play description of her waiting for LOTTERY...opening up the package...and her emotions as she reads...and then? A review.
cuz yanno there ARE surprises...
So commenters I'm loving these contest suggestions...
Keep em coming.
Let's talk about these pesky synopsis/hooks.


Manic Mom said...

YAY! I am so very excited and honored to be the first recipient of The Lottery Giveaway Extravaganza! (I feel like I'm doing my Oscar speech!)

I can't wait to receive my prize! Now, for the rest of my life, I can tell people I WON THE LOTTERY!!!! And it won't be a lie!

BTW, how's this for the whole karma thing--first off, when I read about The Lottery being "Forrest Gump wins Powerball," Forrest Gump was actually playing on the television.

Second--when peeking into your website a litte further, I have just discovered that you and I are ALUM!!!! I went to Northern Illinois University too! Whoa, too weird--out of all the authors in the world to connect with, and out of all the colleges in the world to attend, here, I've cyberly met you and have won your contest, and now have discovered we went to the same college.

Gosh, I love good karma stories!!

Kimber An said...

I'm not to opinionated about synopsis, except that I hate writing them. Query letters with their essential hooks have to be perfection on paper! My husband asked me why I was already starting my query letter for HOLY BENNU when I'm not planning on sending it out until September 1st. I told him it's because the query letter is the single most difficult thing I will ever write. Most agents only take queries and they get flooded with them every day. Talk about pressure!

Kimber An said...

P.S. I am into reading LOTTERY full swing, now that Lisa Shearin's Cyber-Launch Book Party is over. It's too good to speed-read, so that's got to tell you something right there. I tend to be an incredibly impatient reader!

Mystery Robin said...

Congratulations Manic Mom!!! Have fun reading and anticipating. ;)

It's ok, I'm not jealous, b/c Pat is coming to MY town. How excited am I?!?!?!

writtenwyrdd said...

Hey, let me know when you get a consensus, lol. My WAG (wild-assed guess, an Army term I learned) is that the true, fullest answer is...sometimes. Probably depends on the writer, the story and who the recipient is.

Anonymous said...

First time responder, but have read your blog and enjoyed it for a couple months. Congratulations on your book! Hopefully I will see you when you come to Portland! Valerie

The Anti-Wife said...

Holy cow. I power wash everything surrounding my beautifully painted house and miss reading you for a couple of days and Manic snaps up the prize! (I think she's eating too much sugar!)

Guess I'll have to wait and buy it when you come to Seattle!

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Hey, Patricia. Dropping by to say hi after your comment on Backspace. LOTTERY sounds fabulous. I'm looking forward to its release. Cheers.

reality said...

Manic Mon, you ARE so lucky.

Technically I should have already won the email contest. I sent my email even before the secret contest was announced. Plus I have been working sundays. I need a break. Is Pat listening. :)

The Writers' Group said...

Pat, I agree that the synopsis should intrigue, just like your jacket cover does. It's compelling stuff.

I will never forget the first time reading about Lottery, it was the sales notice on Publishers Marketplace. I immediately wanted to read Lottery just from those few lines. In fact, I think I found this site by Googling you after that.

It's been a huge rush reading about your journey. Thanks again for sharing.


Therese said...

Tease, only tease in the short synopsis/pitch to agents--that comes straight from my agent's mouth.

Well, from her mouth to my ears to my fingertips, but whatever.

Most agents don't read all their query mail--assistants cull the pile until it's manageable, then pass the good stuff to the agent.

You have to give them a reason to ask to see more.

Lots of agents don't want detailed synopses at all--partly because lots of authors suck at writing them.

(As an aside: I will be reviewing LOTTERY on my blog as well...probably mid month.)

Holly Kennedy said...

My rule has always been, Give 'em enough to hook them and make them want/ask for more.

The only time I ever wrote a complete synopsis where I revealed everything was when requested to do by my editor, who'd already bought the book in a two-book deal.

Gay said...

I joined the e-mail weeks ago. Maybe we had to join with the right timing???

I just noticed you're a card-carrying Nitwit. How did you manage THAT? I want to be one, too.

Congrats to manic mom. I'll have to wait for my pre-ordered book to arrive. I am SO BUMMED about the Maui Writer's Conference. It's the same weekend my daughter starts college, and they have all this parents' stuff we're supposed to attend. She'll be a freshman, and I have to do the mom thing. I need to be cloned... If anybody has any ideas how I can be in San Diego and Maui at the same time, I'm all ears. I did so want to go to Maui.

Heidi the Hick said...

When I get this current mess off my desk and into envelopes and emails and out to all the agents I've been researching for months...I'll start on the next book. This time I'm doing everything differently. I'm taking notes, writing a few scenes by hand, asking questions, taking more notes...and writing a hook first.

I'm hoping to avoid the agony of four or five rewrites before I even let anybody read it. I know that my goal is for somebody to ask me that dreaded demand:

"In one sentence, what is your book ABOUT?"

(I am so glad I've found blogs like yours where I can read about this!)

Maprilynne said...

"Now, for the rest of my life, I can tell people I WON THE LOTTERY!!!! And it won't be a lie!"

Okay, I snorted and laughed out loud at that one.:)

I think being able to put your book into one sentence is so important. (And hard!!! Hard, hard, hard!!!) I also think that being able to write a one-page synopsis is also very important. I thought it was impossible until I sat down one day (last year, Ha!) and MADE myself do it. I was amazed at how past-paced and exciting it sounded when I managed to boil it down to only those few important sentences. (And again, hard, hard, hard!!!)

Lisa R said...

I agree with you. I don't think you should give away too much in a synopsis - otherwise, why even read the book? Congrats to Manic Mom you will LOVE Lottery!

ORION said...

I am (as we speak) working on tweaking the synopsis for my next book. The manuscript is written and has been sitting -- percolating-- a couple beta readers got a look, my agent has it and sometime in the fall my editor will see it.
It never ends.
So minions.
Do not wail and whine.
We will all work on our synopses together.

Manic Mom said...

I was out all morning with the kids and when I pulled into the drive, I saw A PACKAGE at my doorstep and I was like, 'Could it be, already!?!?!?'

IT IS! I am sooo psyched I took pictures I will post on my blog later tonight!

Thanks for all the congrats everyone! I haven't even opened the book yet, I want to relish in the moment!

Thank YOU Pat!!!!

LadyBronco said...

Pat, I do have a question for you concerning a synopsis.

Should it be single spaced or double spaced?

I've looked around on the web and can't find the answer to that one

ORION said...

Lady bronco - like the query letter it should be single spaced.
The novel itself (full or partial) should be double spaced.
The margins on both should be 1 inch all around. Only one space now between period and the start of the next sentence and at the risk of everyone's wrath. TIMES NEW ROMAN 12 POINT FONT.
This is what I did and both my agent and editor AND copyeditors loved me to death.
Or maybe it was because I sent them chocolate.
I am not entirely sure.

LadyBronco said...


The secret is chocolate? I shoulda known!

Thanks for the pointers on the synopsis, ma'am...much appreciated!

reality said...

Now I am confused.
Everyone says Courier New. I shift to that and now were back to Times New Roman.

Pat, elaborate. Or is this a trick agents play on us poor writers.

Manic Mom said...

Times, definitely Times. Although an agent won't reject you if your partial or full arrives Courier.

ORION said...

Courier is a hold-over from when people typed. My agent said everything is changed to TNR no matter how it comes in. Keep in mind that my final hardback book is garamond with cute little waves under each chapter number.
This is a continual argument and useless. If the writing is spectacular then it doesn't matter but it will be changed to the preferred font. You will not go wrong with Time New Roman.
FYI I would listen to writers who have queried and been published within the last 5 - 10 years.

Demon Hunter said...

I wish I had won a copy! :*( **sitting in the corner pouting**

Amanda Richards said...

I am hoping to be the first person living in Guyana, South America to read this book. Does that give me an extra shot at winning the lottery? :)

Good luck with this book!!!


Amanda Richards