What’s in a Synopsis?

Shelia M. GossA synopsis is a condensed version of your full length novel. A synopsis is normally anywhere from two to five pages long. Although books and articles give different lengths, I’ve been told by industry professionals that a two page synopsis is sufficient so for the sake of this blog post this will be my focus.

A lot of agents and publishers request not only a query letter, but a synopsis during your first initial contact. The synopsis tells the reader exactly what your book is about. It should capture the essence of your novel from chapter one to the end. Keep in mind that you should not leave questions unanswered in your synopsis. I know when writing book reviews, you don’t tell the whole story out of fear of spoiling the story for the reader. But for the synopsis, please tell the reader what happened. Don’t leave the reader guessing. Stick to key points that will entice the reader to keep reading the synopsis until the only option they feel like they have is to read your manuscript.

Key things to remember when writing your synopsis:

  • Your synopsis should mirror your novel. The person reading should be able to tell your writing style by reading your synopsis.
  • Write in present tense.
  • Write in third person.
  • Your opening paragraph or the last sentence of the opening paragraph should have a hook.
  • Introduce your main characters. Show the internal and external conflicts they face in your story. Your synopsis is not the place to mention all of your minor characters unless the minor character causes a major conflict with your main character and is an integral part of your story.
  • Make sure you add transitional sentences so that the synopsis flows from paragraph to paragraph
  • Only include the major scenes or high points of your novel in your synopsis.
  • Edit your synopsis before submitting it.

Shelia M Goss

Shelia is giving away a copy of her “Query EBook Workshop.” For your chance at this excellent workshop, you have to leave a comment here or on her Self-Publishing-Is It For You? post between now and Sunday Oct. 9, 2011. I’m (Deatri) also giving away a copy of Become A Successful Author to someone who comments on any of the site’s posts between now and Sunday Oct. 9. 2011. Winners are announced on the Winners page of this website.

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4 thoughts on “What’s in a Synopsis?

  1. Peggy Eldridge-Love

    I think this article is very beneficial. Many developing authors simply don’t know what questions to ask to get the answers they need to obtain the results they desire. I think this is one of those articles that will allow them to cut to the chase.

    Enjoyed it very much.

    1. Shelia Goss

      Peggy, thanks. This site is filled with helpful information and I’m thankful that Deatri came up with the idea for it. We need a central place for information. Please help spread the word.

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