Friday, July 6, 2012

Mini Synopsis Syndrome

            Congratulations. You’ve finally finished writing that all important query letter, and you have a great list of agents you’d like to send it to. After looking up their submission guidelines, you notice that want a full synopsis and a query letter. Shrugging, feeling like it’s kind of redundant, you do as they ask and send them both out.

            Then wait…..

            After what seems like an agonizing amount of time, you finally get a reply. It’s a rejection.

            Crushed, but resilient, you ask a critique partner to take a look at your query. What they say could be one of these things:

1.    There’s way too much telling in here.

2.    Whoa, information overload.

3.    It kind of reads like a synopsis.

If you’ve ever had this happen to you, you might have Mini Synopsis Syndrome (MSS for short). Don’t fret. It’s curable, and thankfully not contagious.

So what is MSS and how can I avoid it in the future? I’m so glad you asked. *wink*

Remember how redundant it felt to send a full synopsis along with your query letter? It’s because the query really isn’t the place to have a synopsis. This is where our symptoms for MSS come into play. When it reads like a synopsis, you’re probably telling the agent the story instead of showing them it. That means it’s really packed full of as much info as you can get in an itty bity space. That’s our three symptoms: Telling, Overload, and Synopsis.

An agent doesn’t want to be told everything about our story in the query. That’s what the synopsis is for. What they want is to be shown that we have a story, and that they really, REALLY, need to read it. It’s short, sweet, and hard to forget. This is referred to as the pitch. Sometimes it’ll be called the blurb, sound bite, or the premise

In other words, MSS is what happens when an author is too close to their own story. So close that they can’t see its basic premise.

If you or someone you love has MSS, here are a few things you can do to cure it.

1.    Ask a beta reader what they think the premise is.

2.    Break the story down to its bare bones.

3.    Use your logline as a guideline.

4.    Find the catalyst (what propels your character on their journey) and work backwards.

5.    When all else fails, take a break and write something else.

Have you ever had MSS? Please care enough to share your story, and together we can beat this affliction.



  1. Not so much MSS--in fact it, was the reverse. I had a kickin' query blurb and only one agent wanted a 1-pg synopsis. So I took the query pitch and fleshed it out to make a page.

    It was still kickin', but one critter pointed out that the synopsis was an opportunity to show my story in a different way, and I'd kind of wasted it by using the same words as the query in the majority of it.

    So I grumbled quite a bit and started from scratch with the synopsis. Yeah, it was better.

  2. Thanks for sharing Angelica. The 1-pg synopsis is a killer and one of my biggest annoyances. Glad you were able to improve it.


  3. Thank you for your wisdom. I have suffered from MSS for months. Now at least there is hope. :-)

  4. I know how you feel emaginette. Feel better okay. At least now you're free. ;)