Here’s a synopsis of how to write a synopsis.
It’s like a pitch, but you’re gonna give it to us straight. We don’t want to hear about how the key was silver and large, in fact don’t even tell us about the key unless it’s the one key to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. No details. We want it dry like a bad joke, no punch lines, no sweeteners, just the bare bones. We want you to fit that 500-page novel that took you fifteen years to write on five pages. It’s a tiny closet, but it’s enough for a bare-boned skeleton. We want this to be the technical manual to your book. There is no punch line, irony, or climax when you assemble that desk you bought at Ikea, except finishing the hassled project and seeing that it really does look like the cover picture. And that’s what we want—the whole picture. We want to be able to stand back, like we would at an art museum, with our fingers over our chins, and say, “Let’s get this one.” Don’t worry about point of view, the style or the suspense. We want to be able to look at it from any angle we choose, so give us a wide angle, the broadest perspective. We don’t care if you wrote it in first or fifth person perspective, just tell us the story. Iron it out flat and don’t give us the irony. We’re not wanting to be thrilled; we just want to be informed. We want to know this book as good as you do. This isn’t show and tell, this is just the tell part, the show will come later. We’re not the secret service, so spill all the beans, every last pinto.
Here’s an example:
Gandalf visits Bilbo and asks him to go treasure hunting with thirteen dwarves to prevent their bad luck. He says no, then he says yes. They get caught by hungry trolls who die in the sun because of Gandalf. Then they get caught in a goblin cave. Bilbo finds a ring and confronts a creepy thing named Gollum. The ring makes him invisible and is the “one ring to rule them all.” (There will be more on “this ring” in later books.) Bilbo escapes the cave—enter the other four pages of synopsis here—kills a dragon and then returns home from his unexpected journey. The next book is called The Fellowship of the Ring—told you there would be more on that ring later.