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Writers HATE the job of writing a book synopsis. As anxiety escalates, so many questions may rush through their minds: “What is a literary agent looking for in my synopsis or summary? How many details should I include about my novel? Should I explain my setting and characters in my book synopsis or just stick to the basic plot?”
If you’re having trouble and are procrastinating writing your synopsis, don’t despair. Writer’s Relief can help!
What is a synopsis for a book or novel?
To be clear, a synopsis for a novel is different than a book blurb for a novel. A book blurb is a one-paragraph description of your novel in a query letter. A synopsis is a longer description of the entire story. Here’s where you can find more information on How To Write A Killer Book Blurb for your query letter.
How do I write a synopsis for my novel?
For your novel synopsis, follow these insiders’ tips and get your book synopsis noticed by literary agents, editors, and publishers:
1. How should you format the pages of your synopsis? Write your synopsis in the same format as your manuscript. Double-space your synopsis. Use one-inch margins all around. Do NOT right justify your text. Use left justification only. Put a header on every page. Use Times New Roman or Arial font. Do not use Courier font.
2. How should you begin your synopsis? Begin by describing your story in 25 words or less. You must capture the agent’s or editor’s attention. If you succeed in creating this “hook,” you’ll be farther ahead than most people submitting their writing. Editors and literary agents read hundreds of submissions every day. Don’t get cutesy, but keep the reader awake. Don’t be boring!
3. What verb tense should you use for your synopsis? Include a COMPLETE summary of your story from beginning to end, written in present tense. Focus on major plot points or turning points. Omit secondary characters, subplots, and minor events. Don’t go into too much detail.
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4. What should you focus on in your synopsis? Include the setting, main characters, and the all-important CONFLICT. Identify conflict between characters. Include motivation. Then, show the resolution of this conflict.
5. Should you tell the ending of your book in your synopsis? Yes, you should. We know you want to tease your reader and keep ’em guessing, but the novel synopsis is not the place for it. Leave the teasing for your book blurb!
6. Should you ask rhetorical questions in your synopsis to keep readers interested? Do not ask empty questions in your synopsis. They will not fool the agent into asking for the remaining pages of your manuscript.
7. Does proofreading really matter in your synopsis? Yes, absolutely. Proofread your synopsis. Make sure grammar, punctuation, and spelling are perfect. Test your synopsis on a qualified friend or relative. Would they be interested in reading the entire novel based on your synopsis? If not, ask how you can make it more interesting. Ultimately, use your own gut to determine what works. As part of our services, Writer’s Relief can help you proofread and format your manuscript.
8. Should you write your synopsis in first person from a character’s perspective or third person? Always write your synopsis in third person. Some writers will choose first person, but generally, literary agents prefer third person.
How long is a synopsis for a novel?
Agents and editors don’t agree on how long a synopsis should be. How long is a good synopsis: one page? Five? Ten? There are no industry-wide rules at this point to dictate the length of your synopsis.
Our advice: if you’re going to write only one synopsis, keep it under three pages (two pages, preferred). Our feeling is that it’s better to come in slightly under the requested page count than over. Just make sure you include enough information to tell your story, but don’t get bogged down. Your goal is to get the literary agent or editor into the first pages of your book. That’s where the real story begins!!
What if I just can’t figure out how to start writing my book synopsis?
If all else fails, write a mini synopsis that hooks the reader, then use that as a jumping-off point. Taking baby steps might help take the pressure off and free you up emotionally, making it easier to write a full-length synopsis.
You can also use this paragraph when writing your query letter (another task Writer’s Relief can do for you). Writing a synopsis for your book can be difficult, but keep your eye on your goals, and the payoff will make the hard work worth your while!