Do you know how to write a great synopsis that looks professional? An excellent synopsis writing involves following a specific format so that it does the job of convincing the agent that your story is worthy of publication.
You do not attempt to state an editorial about the book with a synopsis. It is an industry document that enables the editor/agent to understand the story’s appeal and depth to decide whether it is worth publishing under their banner.
To come up with an convincing synopsis isn’t that difficult with the right recipe. This guide will help you with everything you need to know about how to write a synopsis. But, before we discuss how to write a proper synopsis, let’s throw some light on what is it?
- What Is A Synopsis?
- What Are The Main Parts Of The Synopsis?
- How Do You Start A Synopsis Paragraph?
- How Long Should A Synopsis Be?
- Synopsis Writing Guide
- Do’s and Don’ts
- What Is The Format Of Writing A Synopsis (Research Papers)?
- How To Write A Play Synopsis?
- How To Write A Brief Synopsis For A Novel?
- How To Write A Series Synopsis?
- How To Write A Literary Synopsis?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Synopsis?
It is an in-depth summary of a written work, which details the contents of the written text from beginning to end, and gives a quick overview of all the central points pertaining to the writeup. Generally speaking, people may write a synopsis for a research paper, film, a talk, or a presentation. So, where a summary presents only a general overview, a synopsis has all the plot details, including the end.
It is also different from the review as it does not have your perspective or critique, and it entails strictly the text you summarize instead of presenting a discussion around the topic, as in the case of a review.
What Are The Main Parts Of The Synopsis?
A good synopsis should have the primary conflict and the story’s resolution while describing the character’s emotional development. It summarizes the complete text, so the reader can get a gist without reading the whole story.
Since synopsis usually goes in as your big proposal, and the publisher makes decisions around it, always proofread it before making a submission.
You need to understand the different components of a synopsis to learn the correct way how to write a synopsis? You can learn how to write a great synopsis if you become well-acquainted with the different parts of the synopsis. It comprises three parts:
1. Characters – The primary and the secondary characters help form the story’s foundation. So, make them strong and memorable from the beginning in your synopsis.
2. Conflict – It is a significant aspect of the synopsis that the reader reads. It should include a brief description of the story’s primary conflict.
3. Narrative arc – It is the framework of the story. But, the primary plot must be multi-layered for synopsis.
Make the most of these parts, and you can excel in your synopsis.
How Do You Start A Synopsis Paragraph?
You should begin with the introductory scene in neutral tone bringing in the main characters. Every significant character, including the plot twists, should be mentioned.
How Long Should A Synopsis Be?
In all honesty, you will find multiple conflicting pieces of advice on it. But, we recommend keeping the synopsis short or at least starting it briefly. Ideally, you can write a page or two, single-spaced about 500-1000 words.
However, if you have a longer synopsis, please ensure it does not go beyond two pages (single-spaced). If the synopsis is unusually long, people do not take the time and effort to read through it. The rule holds for fiction writers, narratives, and memoirs.
Synopsis Writing Guide
Here is a detailed writing guide to teach you how to write a synopsis.
1. Outline the synopsis
Typically, the publishers and agents appreciate completed manuscripts. Hence, always write the synopsis once you finish the book. It will help make the conflict, plot points, and primary characters stand out.
In the synopsis, there should be clarity on how the book concludes. For creating a perfect outline, re-read the first line of every chapter to refresh your memory and maintain a chain of events.
2. Maintain a list of all the main characters
To know how to write a proper synopsis, you should have a handy list of the main characters – the protagonist, their love interest, sidekick, and the villain. You can leave the mention of all the other characters. Also, every character should be dynamic and not flat. They should be versatile and capable of making an impact on the storyline.
3. Sketch the main plot lines
Next, you need to include the narrative arc of the story. Herein, you do not need to mention the sub-plots unless it takes you towards the conclusion of the primary arc. Only touch the highlights, rising action, and intensity here.
4. Find the unique aspects of the story.
Agents and publishers come across thousands of stories and synopsis every week. So, if you want them to be interested in your plot, you need to give them something unique that motivates them to read the whole book. Try to make the storyline engaging with the synopsis.
5. Know the length
Typically, different publishing houses have varying length requirements. So, how to write a great synopsis? So, plan your synopsis length accordingly.
6. Write it in the third person.
Write the synopsis in third person with pronouns like – they, he, she, and it. Also, restate the character names repeatedly.
7. Introduce the conflict and character in the beginning
In the first paragraph, you should introduce all pivotal characters when you give a general overview of the plot line. If you fail to hook the readers in the first paragraph, you may be unable to excite them to read the book.
8. Summarize the main events
Include the obstacles that the character faces, and list ways in which they overcome these obstacles. Do not include the backstories and subplots in the synopsis unless vital to the main plot. Excessive details are not needed.
9. End with the book’s resolution
Finally, the reader should know how this plot line resolves. Herein, you do not have to include any new information. Also, discuss the conclusion as the publisher must know the ending.
10. Edit the synopsis
Now, get to the formatting and editing. Every agent and publisher has guidelines around formatting. Double-space the work, and use font size 12 with Times New Roman.
11. Proofread the synopsis
Once you finish everything, proofread the synopsis and check it for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and missing words.
12. Ask someone to read it for you.
You can request a colleague or a friend for a review to polish it and make it look better.
Do’s and Don’ts Tips For Synopsis Writing
- Write clearly
- Always write in an active voice.
- Take the story further with each character’s feelings and emotions.
- The synopsis must have a narrative arc – the details about the problem, information about the character, the central plot line, and how the story ends.
- An agent is searching for new and fresh elements. So, create your story full of twists and turns, and not make it predictable.
- Here are some common mistakes you should take care of if you wish to know how to write a synopsis successfully:
- Never miss the agent’s stipulated word count by a mile
- Always refrain from explaining the setting elaborately. Remember that you have the book to tell the story. Synopsis is just the snapshot of it.
- Don’t make the mistake of explaining every character in detail
- Every plot will have sub-plots. You do not have to go on including all of them.
- Don’t hide the plot twists. A synopsis is different from a blub. It needs the plot spoiler. So, whether you like it or not, you need to include significant twists.
- Not putting the character names in bold or CAPS. It is a vital requirement for the agents to register character names.
- Often people title Synopsis as ‘Synopsis.’ When you send a synopsis to someone, your name, and the book’s name should be on the top.
- Don’t use a vague file name. The document should be titled yourbooktitlesynopsis.doc.
- Do not write in haste. The synopsis is a functional, brisk document. So, you have to make the synopsis capable of selling your book.
Related: How to write an author’s bio?
What Is The Format Of Writing A Synopsis (Research Papers)?
For synopsis writing, you must be familiar with its format. Below is a structure to follow:
Clearly define the title to state what the synopsis will be about.
- Summarize your knowledge in the field
- the gaps in this knowledge, and
- how the paper helps fill them.
3. Literature review
In this section, you will critically analyze what others have researched and concluded based on their analysis and then point out how you can meet the gaps in their research with your work.
4. Aims and objectives
You decide what goes into it according to the title. The title dictates the research purpose. What do you attempt to find with this research? Be very clear and concise while drafting the objectives.
5. Research methodology
It is a vital aspect of the research and states the specific techniques or procedures required to select, screen, process, and assess the information. The synopsis should have the research process overview detailing how you performed the research.
You should also state the equipment you will use, the mode and medium of data collection, and the analysis method. The methodology describes whether the research is achievable.For more on research methodology, check out these research methods courses.
Provide a list of all the materials you have referred to during synopsis writing.
Summarize the research, concluding everything discussed above and stating the need for this research. Also, list limitations, if any.
How To Write A Play Synopsis?
Use the five-paragraph approach. Follow the steps to create a perfect play synopsis:
- Who is the main lead? – Discuss who, where, what, and when? Enlist the problems that disrupt their lives?
- How do they deal with these conflicts? – Take the readers quickly through the central point in the story, wherein you talk about the primary conflict and how to deal with it.
- How do their choices affect them? – Now, take it forward, and discuss how the choices affect them? What goes wrong, or do new problems emerge? How does this escalate the stakes?
- What new challenges crop up? – Get to the play’s climax. Discuss the final battle.
- Talk about the ending and the end to the beginning. It shows there were seeds of the climax right from the start.
Try to wind up the play synopsis in 500 words, dedicating 100 words to every paragraph.
How To Write A Brief Synopsis For A Novel?
People usually read the synopsis before selecting a novel. It helps them decide what it is about. A short synopsis can give details to lure the readers and convince them to read the book.
Here’s how to write a synopsis for a novel:
1. Create an overview covering the following points – how the protagonist gets involved in the story, what the conflict is, the plotline, and the main thing that makes the book interesting.
2. Develop an outline – Introduce the protagonist in the first para, the setting, and the conflict. Para two should be about the plot twists and turns. Include the significant plots and curtail information to primary and a few supporting characters. In the last part, describe the resolution of the conflict.
3. Fill in the details covering essential questions like:
- What is it that makes it interesting?
- Why should the reader worry about the protagonist?
- Who is the villain?
- Who is the love interest or the sidekick?
- Can people relate to the protagonist?
- What is the grey area?
- What is at stake with conflict resolution?
How To Write A Series Synopsis?
Your synopsis should be between one to three pages. Here is a check-list to follow:
- Define every action and what brings a break in every act.
- Develop the characters with the story.
- Talk about critical events or conflicts in the story.
- Link every para to the next.
- Include some lines about the ending and its impact on the characters.
- The tone of the synopsis should be in sync with the series narration.
- Proofread for grammar and errors.
How To Write A Literary Synopsis?
Here are the steps on how to write a synopsis for any literary piece:
- Set the premise.
- Focus on the primary conflict.
- Outline the character’s growth arc.
- Focus on the main plot line.
- Mention 2-3 lines about the ending.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques 1. What is the difference between plot and synopsis?
Ans. The plot discusses in detail what’s happening in the play/book – the main events happening one after the other. But, the synopsis will include the plot and other condensed vital information about the entire writing in fixed word count.
Ques 2. What is a synopsis of an article?
Ans. It is a summary that details to the reader about the main points in the article.
Ques 3. What tense should a book synopsis be written in?
Ans. Write the synopsis in the third person, present tense.