Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 6, 2012

Can You Answer “YES?” – Synopsis Questions

As many of you might know, our beloved Judy Blume was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  She says she feels she is going to be okay, but she is scheduled to get a mastectomy, followed by breast reconstruction. You can read more details on Judy’s blog.

I know everyone reading this blog will add Judy to their prayers.  Judy, we love you and truely hope all of this will be resolved soon and you back on your feet in short order.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when reading a synopsis – Hint: Your answers should be YES.

  • Is there enough conflict to carry the story?
  • Are the main plot points included?
  • Was the ending reveal?
  • Were the character names capitalized when first introduced?
  • Does it avoid giving too much detail?
  • Are characters’ goals/motivations/conflicts clear?
  • Does the feel of the story (humorous, suspenseful, etc.) come through in the synopsis?
  • Did it get the above done in 1 single space page to 2 double space pages?

Tip from Chuck Sambuchino over at Writer’s Unboxed says, “Take more care and time if you’re writing genre fiction. Synopses are especially difficult to compose if you’re writing character-driven (i.e., literary) fiction, because they may not be a whole lot of plot in the book. Agents and editors understand this, and put little (or no) weight into a synopsis for literary or character-driven stories. However, if you’re writing genre fiction — specifically categories like romance, fantasy, thriller, mystery, horror or science fiction — agents will quickly want to look over your characters and plot points to make sure your book has a clear beginning, middle and end, as well as some unique aspects they haven’t seen before in a story. So if you’re getting ready to submit a genre story, don’t blow through your synopsis; it’s important.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. So sorry to hear about Judy’s health issue 😦 I know that I read about Suzanne Somers “fighting” to have a better way to reconstruct breasts that, I believe, is more natural. I hope she checks into that.

    And I’m loving these lists lately 🙂


  2. Great timing for me, Kathy. Thanks for the checklist.


  3. Prayers for Judy Blume. Everything she writes is a help.


  4. Thank you for letting us know about Judy Blume! Her blog about her recent bout with breast cancer was wonderful… and helpful to those of us who have been through it.


  5. Positive thoughts and prayers coming to Judy.
    I have archived this article for future reference – thank you


  6. Hi Kathy,

    This last post, “Can You Answer “YES?” – Synopsis Questions” and the two before that, offering tips for Critiquing and Revising by Anita Nolan, could not have come at a better time for me. I am in the process of revising my Middle Grade for the nth time and found all of this information SO helpful.

    Thank you,
    Barbara Gold


  7. And my thoughts go to Judy Blume. I had just borrowed my grandson’s book, Fudge-a-Mania. We both loved reading it.


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