How to Write a Novel Synopsis


You can write the synopsis before or after you complete the novel, but I like to do it before as it helps give me direction on the story. However, if I feel that the story needs to go in a different direction, I simply update my proposal synopsis when I finish writing and am ready to send it out into the publishing world, but the trick is to make it irresistible, simple and eye-catching…kind of like a teacup of fresh fruit.

In my opinion, a synopsis is one of THE HARDEST things to write. After sending out my manuscripts and getting some feedback, I have learned a few things about writing a synopsis:

1. Write it in the present tense, the third person and make sure it matches the tone of your novel.

2. It’s a 2-3 page single-spaced summary. Don’t include every detail. As novelists, it’s tempting to write an overly detailed chapter-by-chapter summary, but we simply don’t have space to cover 28 chapters in our tiny allotted 2-3 pages 🙁 Give the high points and introduce the main characters and the main conflicts. 

One of the ways that I try to capture only the highlights: I write out my entire plot chapter by chapter and then, I go back with an axe and chop out all the unnecessary details until it fits in the 2-3 pages.

3. Make it flow. Make sure your transitions are smooth from plot point to plot point.

4. Give the ending away! Your potential agent/publisher needs to know the ending as they are the ones at risk in representing your work and they want to make sure that it does as well as it possibly can. Your readers are the ones you want to protect from the spoiler alerts!

5. Check each agency’s guidelines. Every agency is different. Check and make sure that your synopsis follows the page length that they require. If it is too long, trim it up! Chances are that your synopsis will never be too short.

6. Before you send: step away from the synopsis for a day or two and then go back and make sure that it is engaging, the theme/conflict of the story is evident, your characters are likable and that you hit on the MAJOR points in your book and didn’t focus too much on the minor details and last, but not least, is it free from spelling and grammatical errors?

It’s a bit daunting turning 350 pages into only 2-3 pages, but you can do it! Just give yourself plenty of time to refine it and don’t rush. Happy writing!

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About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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