How to Write a Synopsis

So you thought writing your novel was hard, until you had to write a synopsis. How do you cram your entire manuscript into one page? Are you breaking out into a sweat yet? Everyone dreads writing the synopsis, so let’s look at some best practices to write the best one we can.

  • Include the ending. This is not where we hold onto mystery or secrecy. This isn’t the same as your blurb, you want to give away the ending. If an agent or publisher has asked for a synopsis they want to know everything that happened. Including the ending.
  • Be brief. You want your synopsis to be one page single spaced, which is two pages double spaced. Unless they ask for a longer synopsis specifically, stick to a page no matter how hard it is.
  • Write it in third person present tense regardless of how your book is written. Do not write your synopsis in first person.
  • Focus on main plot points only. You cannot include everything that happens, nor should you. Focus on the main plot line and maybe a subplot that’s important.
  • Check guidelines for how each agent or publisher wants the synopsis and follow their rules.

But you don’t want this to be a laundry list of events. You need to make your synopsis intriguing. So how do we do this? The same way you made your story intriguing.

  • Cut out the filler.
  • Use strong verbs and concrete nouns.
  • Use active voice, not passive.
  • Convey your voice– your style of writing that matches your manuscript.
  • Show characterization- how your protagonist reacts to events.

We read to go on an emotional experience so share that journey in your synopsis. Your first sentence needs to hook the reader. You need to include your protagonist and antagonist as well as your protagonist’s goal. Also include what’s at stake for your protagonist and what the main conflict is. The first paragraph should end with the inciting incident. Any major characters should be introduced in relation to the protagonist and in all capitals the first time they are mentioned. Be sure to include the climax as well as its resolution. How does this affect your protagonist? Include your protagonist’s reaction to each event.

Those should help guide you as you try and write your synopsis. You’ll write and rewrite it a couple of times to get it perfect. What are your tips for writing a synopsis? Share below and happy writing.

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and my Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly prompts.

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