A novel synopsis is a clear, factual summary of your novel storyline. It covers the key information about your novel including main themes, plot, setting, and characterization. It also shows how all these elements coalesce to form an interesting and captivating story. It is typically 500-800 words. There is a golden rule: ‘The shorter, the better’. Your novel synopsis should give editors and agents the opportunity to find out what your novel is about without reading it in its entirety. You should focus on the most essential parts of your novel while writing a synopsis. Don’t write any unnecessary dialogues and characteristics. Your novel synopsis has to be complete, concise, reassuring, and compelling. It is typically consists of a beginning, a middle part, and an ending.
What is a synopsis for?
Most agents usually ask writers to send them a submission pack which includes a synopsis, the first three chapters of the novel, and a covering letter. A well-written synopsis should answer the question ‘What is the novel about?’ In this way, agents don’t have to spend their time on reading the whole thing. Synopses should tell what the story is about, what the hook of your story is, why it matters, and what the ending is. A novel synopsis is very important to editors and agents because it reveals how fresh your story is. Your book will never be accepted by an essay service or published if there is nothing unique or surprising in its content. Writing a synopsis can have some benefits. It can give you the opportunity to discover any possible weaknesses in your book before you submit it to an agent.
Tips for writing a perfect novel synopsis
- The length of your work should be approximately 500-800 words.
- Your main task is to summarize a plot of the novel and its main ideas.
- Your language should be clean, clear, neutral, and to the point.
- A novel synopsis is usually written in third person, active voice, and present tense.
- Avoid any typographical errors and spelling mistakes.
- Put the names of the main characters in bold or CAPS.
- Don’t try to sell your book. Just tell about what happens in your novel.
- Be scrupulous about the plot details.
- Don’t go into vast detail about settings and characters of your story.
- Don’t give away your final plot twist.
- Start with plot basics, add the main character’s Arc, consider the impact character’s role, tell about the major relationship, include thematic considerations, and edit all your points together.
- Write about the main turning points associated with your genre’s ‘formula’.
- Reveal the ending of your novel – show how the main conflicts are resolved.
- Write in a stripped down language.
- Don’t mention all events and characters.
- Tell about what is driving the main conflict of your novel and how characters fail or succeed in dealing with that conflict.
- Avoid writing a character’s background.
- Don’t ask your audience any rhetorical questions.
The most common novel synopsis mistakes
It is wrong to think that a novel synopsis just details the plot. It should contain some emotions and depth. It shouldn’t be dry and boring. Don’t try to impress your agents with poetic and lyrical description. It is not the place for flowery prose. A lot of writers confuse a novel synopsis with sales copy. You should remember that you are not writing a punchy marketing text that builds excitement.
Before submitting your work to an agent, make sure that
- You have an interesting protagonist
- Your story has an original conception
- Your plot makes sense
- Your leading themes are intriguing
- Your events build tension