February 25th, 2021

Coming Attractions

How to Write a Novel in 500 Words

As part of submitting to agents and publishers, an author often has to write a brief synopsis of their novel. It's no big deal: Just boil your 80,000 word work of art into a 500 word ...

Okay, it is a big deal.

The actual length of a synopsis depends on who's asking, which is why I usually do three: a long one that's basically an outline, a medium length one of 2-3 pages, and a short one of 500-1,000 words. None are easy, if you're a long form writer.

These days, most agents and publishers ask for a page or less. You leave out subplots and a lot of the drama--it's can be a little dry, unlike most of your writing output, with just the facts and a brief look at your characters.

My finished rough draft was 4,085 words, in 12 pages.

The second draft is 2,985 words.

So. I have a bit of work to do.

After that I have to write a blurb, something you'd find on the back cover of a book, and it has to be good, interesting, and descriptive, and even shorter. Add to that a cover letter for your submission, which will be sent along with the first, oh, three pages of the manuscript, or five pages, or five chapters, or twenty pages, or whatever they ask for, and there's your submission package. Much of that you have to do even as a self-published author, for promotion purposes.

Writers stress hard over submission packages. But with the odds against them, and most never making enough sales to do it full time, you can hardly blame them.

Off to edit, then. Or submit, or research agents, or ... now that I think on it, it's February. Maybe I'll just have some fun and start on another story. I'll worry about outlining the new one when the days are longer.

This is why writers get a reputation for drinking.

(Let's see who reads to the end of this: After a rough couple of hours, I got it down to 839 words! Still over two pages, but what the heck. I know what you're thinking: "Now, Mark, wasn't that easy?"

No. No, it was not.)