How to Write a Synopsis

I am not proclaiming myself an expert, but rather sharing information which I’ve gleaned from meetings with agents.  I hope you find this useful.

  1. Keep no secrets: A synopsis is supposed to reveal everything, including the ending. Tell the agent what happens without trying to confuse or surprise. The basic purpose of a synopsis is to show your story’s narrative arc, which includes the rising action as well as a logical, satisfying ending.
  2. Format: One-page, single-spaced, Times New Roman, 1inch borders.
  3. Be clear on major points: Agents want to see that there is a beginning, middle and end. They also want to discover something unusual in your story, something perhaps that they’ve never seen before. Highlight those plot points in your synopsis.
  4. Don’t write in your character’s voice. A synopsis can be dry because it has to explain everything that happens in a small space. Strive for clarity. Parse your words. Don’t add guidance, such as “in the next scene,” “at the climax of the story” or “in a dream/flashback/flash-forward”.
  5. Whenever a new character is introduced capitalize the entire name and then use normal text from then on. Avoid naming too many characters: stick to those that are most crucial to the story.
  6. Use third-person, present tense: Even if your story is in first-person POV, the synopsis should be in third. Even if your story is in present tense, the synopsis should be in past.

I hope this will help!

Your task is to choose one of your longer stories and to write a short synopsis. It helps to practice and practice and practice some more!

Once you’ve written it, ask someone who is not familiar with your story to read it. From your paragraphs, does your reader know what happened in the story, from beginning to middle to end? If so, Yippee!  If not, rewrite.

Have fun with this one.

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