Formatting Fun – Word Count, Synopsis, and Queries

Thanks to the fantastic resources of the #pitchwars community, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons about proper writing technique and some formatting issues that I had no idea about before undertaking this crazy journey. The topics have always been ones I’ve wondered about, so I’m putting them here so I’ll know where to find them in the future.

Word Count

This fantastic blog post by the amazing Jennifer Laughran speaks about the ideal word count for novels by category and genre. In my case, my first YA was super long at 120,000 words, which (as I write this) I’m in the middle of editing down. So far I have it to 90,000 which has really tightened up the story!

Her suggestions for YA are:
REALISTIC YA: 40,000-90,000 words*. Sweet spot: 45,000-75,000
FANTASY YA: 50,000 words to 150,000 words**. Sweet Spot: 65,000-85,000 words.

BookEnds Literary suggests the following ideal word counts for Adult categories:
MYSTERY: 70,000-90,000 words
ROMANCE: 80,000-100,000 words, but follow guidelines for any category lines for specific publishers if you’re submitting
SFF: 80,000-125,000 words

How to Write a 1 Page Synopsis

Thanks to the fantastic authors over at PubCrawl for this handy guide to Writing a 1 Page Synopsis. Writing any type of synopsis is far more frightening that writing the whole damn novel! But this fill-in-the-blanks style set up is super easy to follow.

And the three big rules to remember:

  • Don’t use more than three names (protagonist, antagonist, and possible love interest/side-kick/contagonist). Everyone else should just be a role (the waitress, the teacher, etc.)
  • Always tell the ending! The purpose of a synopsis is to show an editor/agent you can tell a story from beginning to end.
  • Avoid subplots unless you have extra space at the end! Give the main plot only.
  • Writing your Query!

    Hop on over to Query Shark! This blog is filled with hundreds of samples of what to do and what not to do!

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