Ever heard of Pokémon? It’s a Nintendo GameBoy game that’s all-the-rage with the kids these days. In the game, you come across monsters called Pokémon, catch them, and train them. You see thousands of Pokémon, and in this way, you’re kind of like an agent in a sea of synopses: all the Pokémon, all the synopses… well, they all look the same.
But every now and then, you have a 1 in 8,192 chance of coming across a Pokémon that is a different color. These are called “shiny” Pokémon, and they are so rare that any hardcore nerd would freak out when they see one. And THAT is what you want your Synopsis to be: the one shiny Synopsis in all the others that makes an agent freak out.
The synopsis piece of your Query Letter is a description of your book, just like the one that might eventually appear on its back cover. It should include major characters, introduce their struggles, and declare the stakes of their adventures. You should hit on the most exciting or interesting plot points and character traits. You should make it as shiny as possible; don’t let it become something that the agent has seen a thousand times.
A few quick tips on preventing this: keep out all spelling and grammatical errors. Focus on what makes your book unique, not on things it has in common with many others. Declare the stakes, and don’t give away the ending; make the agent want to know what happens. In later blogs, we’ll go over other ways to make a shiny Synopsis.
Note: Sometimes, an agent will specifically request a Synopsis along with a Writing Sample. This is something separate from the Query Letter synopsis, and usually involves a full plot-description. We’ll get into those later, too.