Synopsis Writing (was Pitch Materials Workshopping)

(there used to be another thing here, but I edited)

I saw in a Story Services thread that someone was asking what goes into writing a synopsis for a novel manuscript.

My understanding as a non-insider in the industry and novice at writing these is that the synopsis is written in the third person present tense (regardless of the style in the actual manuscript), is some brief number of pages (2-4?), and uses CAPS to name characters the first time they are mentioned.

Anyone else have experience, questions, or research on this?

(I’m going to try to write one, but I think for me I need to update my scene list spreadsheet and use that already reduced data to inform the synopsis.)

Here’s an example of what I’m working on. I’ve been first writing the chapter-by-chapter summary of what happens and then trying to use that to write a synopsis, which I understand has a somewhat different tone and goals.

Some of this was discussed in this other thread:


(1)MORPHEUS is sung into being in the ethereal realm of The Night Regions. Fully formed and adult in size, but still rather naive, Morpheus is aided in assimilating his inherited memories by his mother, OPIUM. Entering the House of SLEEP, his father, Morpheus and his sister MAYA are formally introduced to their fellow Children of Night.

Before the ceremony can be concluded, Opium receives a summons to go to Earth, which they call The Empty World. JIBRIL, last in line at the introduction, offers to withhold his formal presentation and gifts so that Morpheus and Maya may accompany Opium rather than go directly to training with mentors.

On the morning of September 11 2001, Morpheus, Opium and Maya teleport into the Manhattan penthouse of famous tech CEO STEVEN JEWEL. Steven explains that a woman named JOY taught him the summons but is now dead.

In Joy’s neighboring penthouse they meet Steven’s wife HELEN and ZERACHIEL, one of the Children of Night acting as Regent of Death. Opium confirms that Joy’s soul is not under the jurisdiction of Death, because she was created by Jibril, current Regent of Dream. With prompting from Helen, Morpheus and Opium cooperate to give Joy bottled vampire blood which Opium explains will make her live “with consequences”.


MORPHEUS is sung into being. We are introduced to our POV character and his “ordinary world”. But to us the Night Regions are extraordinary, a mash-up of Portal Fantasy landmarks: yellow brick paths, fields of poppies, white rabbits, labyrinths, mysterious castles, mountains that move, and all the rivers of the Greek Underworld.

Morpheus, full-grown yet naive, has a difficult time processing, and reacts in a manner relatable to one familiar with sensory issues. He uses hands or wings to shield his eyes and ears against the input, until his mother OPIUM uses her own “superpower” to show him his true reflection. She helps Morpheus understand he possesses inherited memory. He has knowledge, but many things lack context.

Morpheus enters the house of his father SLEEP, within the Cimmerian Mountain, where he and his twin sister MAYA are to be introduced to their fellow members of the Children of Night. Shortly after the introduction of the sleeping prophetess among them, the ceremony is interrupted by a summons Opium must answer on Earth.

Like a good faerie, Jibril, the last to be introduced, offers to withhold his gifts, extending the introduction long enough for Morpheus and Maya to accompany their mother before being expected to find mentors and train.

Thus, Morpheus is called and crosses a threshold into The Empty World.

It’s the morning of September 11 2001 and human tech CEO STEVEN JEWEL informs them JOY has died.

In Joy’s neighboring penthouse, Morpheus encounters Steven’s pregnant wife, HELEN; ZERACHIEL Regent of Death; and Joy’s corpse and ghost. Zerachiel has business downtown but isn’t sure what to make of Joy. Opium confirms that Joy was created by Jibril and thus does not fall under Zerachiel’s jurisdiction.

Joy’s died of heroin overdose, Morpheus notes, and this has left her ghost too high to answer questions. Helen suggests a possible solution mentioning a rumored bottle. It’s vampire blood and no one present explains where Joy got it, but Opium is confident it can make her live “with consequences”. Morpheus doesn’t yet understand, but he helps his mother.

THere’s a potential problem here in that the synopsis, at least where concerning this opening chapter, got longer. I think I did better on the tone and communicating that the work will be one where allusion is noticeable, but I’m pretty sure I’m doing poorly in condensing.

But, this is a work that has 5K word chapters to begin with. So, when someone asks for a three-page synopsis, they mean regardless of the length of the work? So…if the work it’self is a 200K word epic it still has to be condensed to the same synopsis length as an 80K word novel?

I’m still struggling with this. I’m in drafts, but there’s maybe going to be 50-60 chapters. And right now, I’m having trouble condensing each to half a page.