Done Doesn’t Actually Mean “Done”


So you’re done. You finished your novel – edited, received feedback, revised. You’ve polished it to within an inch of it’s life and made it as good as you can. If you never see it again, it will be too soon. Time to move on to the next project.

But wait! It’s done, but are you? Unless you want that story you’ve poured so much of yourself into over the years to languish in a drawer forever, there’s more!

Full disclosure: I’ve only made it this close to done once before. I was young and didn’t know how much I didn’t know and it . . . was bad. It embarrasses me now just to think that I sent out something like that.

If you decide to self-publish, you have a slog ahead of you in formatting and cover art and busting ass on publicity. Or, if you’re like me and haven’t given up on the idea of traditional publishing, you have query letters and synopses. Those things no one warned you about.

Query letters are like cover letters for a job. They suck. (If you are that bizarre type of person who enjoys them, please TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!) But there are plenty of resources out there to guide you through crafting them.

But the synopsis?

See, the synopsis generally comes into play if you’ve queried and they’re interested enough to request more, but aren’t asking for the full manuscript yet. Maybe their submission guidelines said they want the first five pages with the query letter, so then they’ll request a partial – maybe the first five chapters – and a synopsis.

So. What’s a synopsis? Until a couple years ago, I hadn’t heard of it in relation to the writing submission process. Or maybe I did, but ignored it because that’s what I do when I don’t fully understand things or find them overwhelming. It’s a family trait.

A synopsis might be one page, or five pages, or ten. Or so I hear. I have yet to make it far enough into the process to supply one. No matter the length, a synopsis contains the whole of the book in summary. The beginning, the main plot points, the major characters and relationships, and the ending.

Just in case the possible length variable isn’t tricky enough, the synopsis should unfold as the story does and feel as much like the story as possible. It needs time and attention and polish, just like your novel.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips or tricks to share. Except the obvious: get critique. Have beta readers. Just make sure they don’t mind spoiling the ending!

When it comes to the synopsis, I don’t particularly know what I’m doing with it. Please share any resources you know in the comments! Have any synopsis stories of your own or words of wisdom? I’d love to hear them.

So I’m done with writing the novel, but I still have a ways to go before maybe, some day, getting it out in the world.


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