The dictionary defines synopsis as "a condensation or brief review of a subject: summary."
Okay, I get it. You need to boil down the essence of your book so that you provide only the important information. Agents and editors don't have a lot of time to find out how much they need your masterpiece, so make it short.
At PitchFest, agents asked me to send them my book along with a "short" summary.
"Oh," I said, "like four pages?"
That evoked a head tilt with a wry smile. "No. Two pages. Double spaced."
"Oh." Gulp. "Fine." I forced a big smile. "No problem."
No Problem! I had four and a half single pages that had been whittled down (with extreme angst) from ten. How could I possibly hone down all that important information to two double-spaced pages. I threw my head down against my arms on my desk. Impossible!
Thankfully, I have cheerleaders--my writer's group. With their support, I worked and reworked the synopsis until I had it tamed to a reasonable length.
How did I do it? It wasn't easy. Good thing my kitties don't understand English.
I checked out online resources with information about the short synopsis. (Because there is also a long synopsis.) See the links at the end. I tried to keep my thinking within the main plot, ignoring subplots, no matter how amazing they happened to be. I then wrote a super short outline that hit on the suspense, character interaction, and a hint of romance. From that outline, I tried to find those parts that were pertinent to the genre, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal.
Finally, I had the basics, the information that showcased the story points. Next I tried to cut out the extra description. Whew! A lot of that. Then I needed to cut out superfluous words. That forced me to make the sentences more active. A good thing.
Of course, I still had too many words and so I had to delete more of my beautiful babies. Ouch! But I persisted, dried my tears, and prepared the finishing touches--writing the synopsis in the present tense, third person using my voice.
I wanted the reader to view the synopsis through my protagonist's eyes so they could get the flavor of the book. When I finished, I had two double-spaced pages plus two lines.
At present, I'm in waiting mode for the results of those submissions. But now that I have a nice short synopsis, and a query letter (that is another whole story), I'm all set. Right? Oh, no. One of the publishers asked for a back cover blurb and a one-sentence blurb (an elevator pitch). Eek! More work.
And, then, since I'm half-way through the second book in the series. . . . You see where I'm going with this.
For today, though, I'm simply going to concentrate on writing--one word at a time.
Synopsis tips for Literary Agents
Recipe for a Successful Synopsis