Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Line spacing and synopses

Having reviewed every 'submission guidelines' page of every Australian agency--even the ones currently 'closed due to backlog'--I can't find any line-spacing specifications for the synopsis. Is there an unwritten standard that I missed regarding the spacing in a synopsis?

The query letter, I assume, is to be set in the standard single, and the chapters are to be double, of course. The synopsis, however, which the agencies request as being anywhere from 1-3 pages in length ... well, they ain't specified line-spacin' nowheres.

I'm concerned because one page of double-spaced plot-extract doesn't seem adequate to recount a day in the life of a brick, let alone an entire novel.

Do I need to cinch the proverbial belt again, or can I single-space my synopsis?

I'm going to start by referring you to this post in which I state that I kinda don't care what the formatting is because if the submsision is electronic I can change it, and in which I also state that many writers get far too caught up in the formatting and not caught up enough in the actual writing (or words to that effect).

So you can read that post in conjunction with what I'm about to say: use 1.5 line spacing if in doubt. It's not windy enough to suggest that you believe the agent or publisher has problems with their sight; it's not close enough to be annoying (as I personally find single spacing annoying if the paragraphs are long).

I'll also let you in on a little secret: a lot of people in publishing don't put a lot of weight on the synopsis, but it's useful to have it so you can see that the story is going somewhere. A synopsis is a tool, not an opportunity to display your writing skill. The query letter or hello letter or just-read-my-damn-manuscript letter is, however, a place where you can play. In short: don't kvetch, just write. Keep the synopsis as concise as possible and spend most of your energy on the manuscript. If your manuscript is brilliant and your synopsis is not, which do you think I'll pay more attention to? I'll happily overlook a dodgy synopsis to get my hands on a great piece of writing.

1 comment:

Glynis Peters said...

Just the info I was looking for, thanks. Also thanks for allowing me to relax over the synopsis, I was getting a little anxious about that part.