on Writers Helping Writers:
Many authors would rather write a whole new novel than cram the one they’ve already written into a five-hundred-word summary. If I wanted to write a short story, I would have written one. Right?
The reason we hate writing synopses is because they’re hard. The reason they’re hard is because, more than any other tool available to us, they show us what’s wrong with the novel we’ve labored over for months, if not years.
The synopsis is the equivalent of a house inspector—that man or woman who walks around with a clipboard and goes through the house you thought you were ready to sell, pointing out all the structural issues you either didn’t know about or pretended weren’t a problem: roof damage, termites, a saggy bearing wall, you name it. You can do all the fancy writing in the world. If there’s something fundamentally wrong with your novel, it will come out in the synopsis.
That’s why we hate them.
That’s why most agents ask for one.