A synopsis is basically a plot summary of your novel. Agents, editors, and publishers typically require a one- to two-page synopsis of your book so they can quickly see what it’s about and whether or not it’s for them.

Recently I entered a wonderfully named contest, Synopalooza, which is sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. It was a national contest in which writers submitted a synopsis of their novel, to be judged by agents and others for the clarity and power of the presentation. The winners would then have their manuscripts read by select agents.

Here’s the bad news: I lost. But the good news is that I learned a lot in the process. I submitted an early synopsis of Grace Brothers Mysteries: Searching For Sweetness and the act of writing it—really thinking hard about the characters and action and themes and boiling it all down to 250 words—greatly improved the finished work, in my opinion.

Even if you never enter a contest, write a synopsis for your novel. Spend some time on it and work thoughtfully. It’s worth it. Congratulations to Bonnie Navarro, Clint Hall and Candice Yamnitz for finishing one, two, and three in this year’s Synopalooza. Many thanks to president Lara Helmling and ACFW-Chicago for sponsoring the contest. Job well done.