Since so many of my friends have reached the query stage and asked me about writing a synopsis I thought I'd better blog about them. I hate doing a synopsis. They're hard! They are your first attempt at selling yourself and your story, which can be a bit of a transition for fiction writers. But, because it's your first attempt at selling yourself, it is also an important step. You will have to do some of your own promotion in the future and the synopsis can give you a little taste of that.
The synopsis isn't the time to be humble or secretive. Agents want a synopsis because they want to know how the story unfolds. Tell them. How should it read? That depends. Some agents don't want all the details and some don't want to know the ending. The amount of pages they give you can for it can be an indicator. When in doubt, ask how detialed they would like it.
Start with this premise: A synopsis should read like the cover of a book. I'm talking about the detailed inner cover, not a quick blurb on the back. Quick blurbs are for query letters. I'm also talking about the style, not necessarily the content, because like I said, some agents want all the details.
The main reason for a synopsis is so they can get a quick idea of your writing skills like plot and character. Most agents I've submitted to only want one page, double spaced. If you've ever tried to squeeze your synopsis onto one page like that, you know how painful it is. But don't worry those who want a detailed synopsis usually give you three to five pages. Above all, remember that a synopsis still has to be good writing. It shouldn't read like a play by play manual. Pull a couple of books off your shelf and read the inner jacket. It will give you a great place to start!
Still unsure? Check out this fantastic post by Chuck Sambuchino with eight great links on the synopsis: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Footnotes+8+Articles+On+Synopsis+Writing.aspx