When approaching literary agents, you’ll want to include a query letter, a short description of your book, and a synopsis. If you’re wondering how you can write an outline, then the first thing you should know is that it should look professional.
A synopsis is essential because it will get an agent interested in your work. It also helps them understand what they are getting into if they decide to represent you. Therefore, a synopsis should convey a book’s plot, characters, setting, tone, and theme.
Don’t confuse the synopsis with a sales pitch or the kind of promotional material that might appear on the back cover or inside the book. An overview is simply a summary of the story.
What is a Book Synopsis?
The word “synopsis” comes from the Greek word syn- (meaning together) and “opsis” (meaning sight). In other words, a synopsis is a condensed version of a larger piece of writing.
In publishing, a synopsis functions as a marketing tool for books. When you submit a manuscript to publishers, you will have to provide a synopsis. It is typically done by having someone else read through the entire book and summarize its contents. The person who reads the book is called a reader. The publisher may hire them, or they may volunteer their time.
If you have written a novel yourself, you probably already know how much work to create a complete-length book. You’ve likely spent months or even years developing a detailed outline, researching topics, gathering information, and writing chapters. However, when it comes to writing a synopsis, all you need to do is condense this process into one paragraph.
If you don’t have a lot of experience writing a synopsis, you may find it challenging to create one that accurately conveys the essence of your book. But there are some things you can do to make sure your synopsis is compelling.
First, you should start by reading sample synopses online. These samples will give you ideas about how to structure yours.
Second, you should remember that a good synopsis doesn’t just tell readers what happens in your book. Instead, it tells them why they should buy your book.
It means that your synopsis should explain the main themes of your book. For example, if your book is about love, your summary should focus on the themes of romance, commitment, and trust.
Your synopsis should also describe the major conflicts within the story. Conflict is the driving force behind every great thriller, mystery, or romance. Conflict drives people to act, so it’s essential to any account.
Finally, your synopsis should clearly state the book’s genre. Most publishers require authors to specify whether their book is fiction or nonfiction.
For example, if your book has is a crime novel, you could say something like:
“An exciting new series featuring a female detective.”
Or, if your book is on ancient Rome, you could write:
“A historical adventure about a young Roman woman who must fight for her life after being falsely accused of treason.”
Generally, a synopsis should be no more than one page long. You may find yourself writing longer than this when you describe the main character’s personality traits, but keep it at one page for now.
The goal here is to give an overview of your book without giving away any spoilers. So don’t go into too much detail about the plot or the ending. Instead, focus on describing your protagonist and their journey.
Writing a Good Synopsis
Now that you know what a synopsis is and how to write one, let’s look at some tips for writing a compelling summary.
1. Keep It Short
When writing a synopsis, you want to get right to the point. Your goal isn’t to tell readers everything about your book. Instead, your job is to help them decide whether they’d enjoy reading it.
The best way to accomplish this is by keeping your synopsis brief. A short synopsis is easier to understand than a long one. Plus, a quick overview makes it easy for potential buyers to skim over your book.
2. Focus On What Readers Will Want To Know
When you read a synopsis, the first thing you’ll notice is that most writers try to include too many details. If you’re going to write an outline, you only need to cover the basics.
It would be best if you didn’t detail plot points, characters, settings, or other elements that aren’t directly related to your book. Instead, stick to the facts.
3. Include Key Themes And Characters
Your synopsis should contain two key components. First, you should highlight the theme(s) of your book. It includes the primary conflict and main character traits.
Second, you need to mention the essential subplots and supporting characters. Subplots are-sided stories that occur during the action. Supporting characters play minor roles but still add depth to the story.
4. Use Action Words
If your synopsis contains lots of words describing events, then you’ve probably written a boring one. Instead, use active verbs whenever possible.
If you can replace “the heroine was kidnapped” with “she was abducted,” you’ll make your synopsis more interesting.
5. Be Specific
Don’t just summarize the plot. It would be best if you also gave specific examples from the story. For instance, if your book involves a murder, don’t simply say that someone dies. Describe exactly how the victim died.
6. Avoid Using Exclamation Points
Exclamation points are essential in emphasizing a particular word or phrase. They’re often used to show excitement or surprise. But they have no place in a synopsis.
Instead, use simple language. If you do need to use an exclamation point, use it sparingly.
7. Don’t Overuse Emojis.
Emojis are small images that appear next to the text on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These symbols usually represent emotions.
Some people think using emojis is good because they seem less formal than regular punctuation. However, these symbols are distracting.
8. Make Sure Your Summary Is Easy To Understand
Your summary should be clear and concise. If you find yourself struggling to explain your book, you may need to rework your synopsis.
9. Proofread Before Publishing
Once you’ve finished writing your synopsis, proofread it carefully before publishing it online. There’s nothing worse than having a lousy summary out there.
10. Keep It Short
A good rule of thumb is to keep your synopsis under 200 words. That means you won’t have to worry about formatting issues.
Essential Parts of a Synopsis
Ideally, it would be best to consider mentioning your characters somewhere in your synopsis. It helps readers get a feel for them. Keep in mind that both the protagonist and antagonist play an integral role in the story.
The conflict occurs when the main character wants something very badly. For the characters to achieve the goal, the characters must overcome obstacles. Ensure to include a brief description of each block and the central conflict in your synopsis.
3. Narrative arc
The narrative arc is a line connecting all of the significant turning points in the story. The first half of your synopsis should describe this arc’s beginning, middle, and end. Although the layers of your plot should be multiple, the hook itself should only contain two parts.
Steps to Writing a Book Synopsis
Writing a synopsis isn’t tricky. All you need is some time and patience. Here are ten steps to help you write an excellent summary:
1. Choose a genre
Choosing a genre is the most crucial step. Once you know what kind of books you want to write, you can start looking at different genres.
2. Create a list of potential titles
After choosing a genre:
- Brainstorm potential titles for your book.
- Try not to limit yourself by overthinking the title.
- Just let your imagination run wild.
- Find inspiration
You might be surprised at where you find ideas for your synopsis. Look through old novels, magazines, newspapers, and even websites.
3. Start with the plot.
After you have a few ideas, create a basic outline of your plot. Think about how the story begins, ends, and moves between events.
4. Add details
Now that you have an idea of your plot’s overall structure add more detail. Include everything from setting to characters.
5. Outline the plot
Now that you have a rough idea of the plot, you can outline specific scenes. Each scene should follow the same format as the previous ones.
6. Fill in the blanks
As you go along, fill in any gaps in your outline. You don’t necessarily have to use every word in your strategy; however, you should ensure that each sentence flows logically.
If you notice anything missing or confusing, rewrite the section until it makes sense. Remember, you can always edit later on if necessary.
Finally, once you’re satisfied with the quality of your work, publish it online.
Proofreading is vital because typos and grammatical errors could ruin your entire synopsis. If you’re using Microsoft Word, click the Review tab and select Spelling & Grammar. If you’re using Google Docs, click Publish.
Share it with friends and family once you’ve finished writing your synopsis. They may offer feedback that will improve your work.
Regardless of your experience, writing a synopsis can be challenging. However, following these steps will ensure that your overview has a strong foundation.