I finished judging my GH entries last night. The last one was really good. Totally drew me in. I took the entry to the pool while my kids were in swimming and by the time they were done, all I wanted to do was keep reading. Granted, there were holes, and I was confused in a few places, but overall the writing was good and the story line was intriguing. I was ready to give the entry a really high score.
Then I read the synopsis.
The summary of the pages I read was complete - followed very closely. I had such hope. But then the writer totally lost me. He/she described things that happened that didn't seem to fit with the pages I'd read. I had no idea why or how the situations arose. The love scene seemed to come out of nowhere and the characters' (described) actions didn't fit with how they were portrayed in the first few chapters. I was left scratching my head. And then the final paragraph of the synopsis completely threw me for a loop.
Writing a synopsis takes skill. Just as writing a book takes practice, practice, practice, so does synopsis writing. Each action/reaction and plot point have to make sense, otherwise you lose your prospective buying (ie: editor/agent) reader. I ended up giving this entry a moderately high score, because I did enjoy the pages, but when the entry is supposed to be judged on pages AND synopsis, you have to take both into consideration. My score would have been much higher had the synopsis made even a lick of sense. If I were an editor or agent, I'm not sure I'd request more off this entry, even though the pages were okay. In my mind's eye, I'm not sure the writer can carry an entire book.
We're starting up a synopsis contest, and I'm hopeful it will be a success. People hate to write synopses, but they're important. They show you know what you're doing and that you CAN write an entire book that makes sense. As Alice has said before, they're a selling tool. One a lot of writer's don't give enough time to.
I'm curious. If you've judged contest entries (or, as in Paty's case, considered partials for a pub), do you find the quality of synopses to be high or low, in general? Does the synopsis impact your opinion of the entry or the pages? And as a writer, how much time do you devote to your synopses - before or after the book is written?