If you have already read the initial draft of my synopsis, you know it began life as a 9-page behemoth that described every chapter in my book, one by one. And if you have further read my post on querying, you know that, as a result, it was about 450% too long to use when submitting to agents. (Note that a few agencies have guidelines that ask for only one page of synopsis, and while this might work for “traditional” literary fiction and most other genres, I think you’re probably still safe sending two pages* in the case of epic fantasy due to how long it typically runs.) Below, I have also uploaded the final version. By sharing this draft along with the first take, it is my hope that you will be able to compare them, and come away with a sense of how running through multiple iterations can help you boil a full manuscript down into a digestible summary.
This is also a good place to reiterate a point buried deep in the middle of my piece on querying: when drafting your synopsis – certainly when it comes to your final draft, at any rate – it is not enough to simply slap words down on the page. Don’t forget that this summary represents another example of your prose, and as such it does reflect on your skill as a writer. Painful though it may be, you should take the time to write it well. No one will expect your synopsis to ring with poetry, but it shouldn’t be total slop either.
Finally, as in the case of the initial draft, remember that this piece describes the major plot points in my (as yet unpublished) first novel. Though not as detailed as its predecessor, IT IS NONETHELESS A HUGE SPOILER.** (Which, hey, is not such a big deal so long as it remains unpublished.)
*As a reminder, in order to make my writing samples legible in this format, I was forced to significantly increase the font size on all of them. Despite the fact that the synopsis above appears to be four pages long, I promise you that it was in fact only two. (It was two exactly, but it was two, dang it all.)
**As with the 9-page starting point, I drafted this document based on the ORIGINAL draft of my manuscript that I sent it out during the querying process. Consequently, it varies significantly in certain places, both in terms of actual content and where that content appears, from the plot of the most current iteration. Nevertheless, it remains useful as an example of how to begin a synopsis with a detailed summary and then cull it down to a version that would be appropriate for sharing with literary agents.