Writing a scene sequence or book synopsis is recommended for writers looking to land a literary agent. In addition to sending out a query letter, or literary business letter, some agents require the first handful of pages from a book, along with a two-page, single-spaced synopsis. The synopsis allows agents and even the editors of publishing houses to learn about the plot of the book, including turning points as well as the ending. When working on a synopsis, break your book down into 10 to 15 scenes, describing each scene in a single paragraph.
Read over your outline and plot structure or read the story itself. Take notes while going over your work and break significant scenes up into sections. Note that throughout your scene sequence, you'll want to follow the main character's arc or personal plot.
Include details in the scene sequence such as other characters with whom your main character interacts and how they affect the main plot of the storyline. Avoid mentioning minor characters, or characters that only appear in one scene, unless they affect the main character in a dramatic way. For example, a character who stands quietly in the background isn't too significant, but when that same character steps up to help the main character lead an army into battle, he or she become a more pivotal character within the story.
Capitalize every letter in a character's name when that character is first introduced in your scene sequence. This will let agents and editors know that a new character is being introduced. Include details such as the character's relationship to the main character, how the character arrives in the scene and any actions the character takes to move the plot forward.
Describe the actions your characters take throughout the plot to move the story forward. Include major plot points such as conflicts and resolutions throughout your scene sequence. Keep in mind that various forms of conflict can overlap, but should be resolved by the end of the book.
Tell the agents and editors who read your synopsis the ending. Even if it's the first in a series of novels, most conflicts must be resolved. Note that the main story arc, such as your main character's search for her family, can continue on into books that follow, but events and conflicts that crop up during the first book while your main character's on her journey must have a resolution.
Tips & Warnings
- Format your scene sequence so that it's no more than two single-spaced pages in length. Use short sentences that focus on major details of your plot if your synopsis exceeds the required length. Note that some editors and agents may require a shorter or longer synopsis, but a two-page summary is generally what they request.