Giving away the plot

by Dai Henley
(Romsey, Hampshire UK)

Question: Should the synopsis give away the major plot twists?

My feeling is that if you do, the agent/editor/prospective publisher won't get the same affect as the ultimate reader if you get that far. The element of surprise will have been taken away.

Does this matter?

Answer: The agent/editor won't appreciate the element of surprise if they never read the manuscript.

And they won't read the manuscript unless the query letter and synopsis convince them that you know how to construct a good plot.

And the only way to convince them that you know how to construct a good plot is to include all the twists and the final resolution in the synopsis.

Experienced pros have probably had to deal with new authors in the past who, when asked how the story ends, say "I haven't worked that out yet."

To pros, that is a red flag that says, "This author doesn't have a complete draft, which means he/she might never finish the book. So don't waste your time on them."

Of course, your synopsis can still present the twists in the order they appear in the book - including the emotional twists. If you write it well, the synopsis will convey the effect you are trying to create in the book and prove to the agent/editor that you know what you are doing and you have the complete draft ready to submit as soon as they ask for it.

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