A strong and gripping synopsis is the best way to sell your book.
A compelling, well-written synopsis will entice an agent or publisher to request your manuscript or proposal. It makes all the difference in getting your foot in the door when submitting a novel, story collection, or memoir. The same applies to nonfiction books too such as self-help, how-to’s, etc.
It’s your first impression—one that typically decides your fate. A well-written synopsis has the power to turn an agent or editor off to working with you just as quickly as it can inspire him or her to request to see more of your work. This is why many authors struggle with writing their own book synopsis. They’re good storytellers and know what happens in their books but they lack the proper skills to spin a great synopsis out of what they wrote.
What is Synopsis Writing?
This is when you encapsulate your book into one or two pages that describe your story in the most engaging way possible. It contains the protagonist’s main struggle and what they ultimately resolve in the book.
This article provides a 5-step process to help you write a compelling synopsis:
Tips on writing amazing Synopsis.
1. Write your story in a succinct manner from the main character’s point of view.
2. Use active verbs and avoid using adverbs wherever you can.
3. Be sure to keep your synopsis between 200-500 words in length. Anything longer is boring to read and anything shorter can’t convey all your major plot points.
4. Don’t include any spoilers that ruin the book for readers. If you’re having trouble keeping them out, save your synopsis for another day and work on writing the first chapter instead.
5. Remember that you’re trying to hook an agent or editor into requesting the full manuscript, so make sure you save your best writing for last.
How to Write a Synopsis? 5-Step Guide
Creating a powerful synopsis requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But don’t let that scare you away from doing it! You’ll still need to do the same amount of research as to when you were writing your manuscript but in a different manner since there are certain things that will be more relevant to include in this type of document.
1. Introduce the main character. The conflict they face at the beginning of the book must be greater than anything they have ever faced before.
2. Show us why your main character matters. Why should we care about them? What do they stand to lose if they don’t get what they want?
3. Show us how your main character overcomes adversity, solves the problem, and/or meets the challenge head-on. End with a cliffhanger or question that will make the reader want to learn more.
4. Write a one-sentence summary of the rest of your book and use this as the last line of your synopsis: “The result is an engaging and page-turning story with characters you’ll root for until the very end.”
5. Don’t forget to thank them for their time!
6 Elements to Consider When Writing a Synopsis?
Writing a great synopsis isn’t easy; there are certain elements you must include whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction.
1. The Hook: This is the first line or two of your synopsis and what it should do is give the reader an idea about what kind of story he or she is reading, who the main character(s) are, and how it all ties together to make one cohesive plotline.
It’s not necessary for you to reveal exactly what happens in your book at this point—this part should simply intrigue them enough to keep reading until they see for themselves! If you’re writing nonfiction it’s even more important that you grab their attention immediately since most agents can tell within 7-8 pages whether they want to read more (and the average nonfiction book has roughly 25-30). So think of something interesting or quirky. Show off your writing chops here.
2. The Hook Part 2: Now that you’ve got their attention it’s time to give them the rest of the story! No, this doesn’t mean giving away everything—that would defeat the purpose of having a hook in the first place. This is where you reveal what makes your book unique, exciting, and entertaining without giving too much away by explaining how everything ties together so well. You’ll need to explain why they should be interested in it but not give too much away either.
When you’re done reading your synopsis ask yourself does this sound like something I would want to read? Be completely honest with yourself here because if you can’t convey exactly what makes your book so great then how can you expect anyone else to?
3. Don’t Give Everything Away: Sometimes the best surprises happen at the end of a book so don’t give everything away! You do need to include all important plot points so they know what is going on but you shouldn’t give every single detail about every little thing either.
If you’re writing nonfiction then, by all means, follow this rule! Even if someone wants to publish your how-to book it isn’t worth making yourself look unprofessional or lazy by giving away all of your secrets in one sentence. Let your readers enjoy the journey as much as the destination—that’s what makes for an exciting story that keeps them coming back for more!
4. It’s A Story, Not A Summary: The purpose of a synopsis is not to give an extensive summary but to tell a story. You’re writing about what happens in your book but putting it together in a way that makes the reader want to read more instead of skipping sentences or paragraphs here and there. It needs to flow smoothly from beginning to end with repeating elements coming full circle at the end.
If you put too much focus on summarizing certain parts of your book then you may lose focus of what actually matters, which is why it’s so important for fiction authors to keep their synopsis under 500 words (even if they don’t necessarily have 500 words worth of content).
5 . Choose Your Words Wisely: Since this is not your own work you can’t be as liberal as you normally would with your language. But you don’t want to sound like a robot either. Choose each word carefully and make sure every sentence (especially the first line, which should be engaging) has an important point or message.
6 . Don’t Overcomplicate It: Most of the time people have a tendency to overthink things, especially when it comes to their own work. Don’t make this mistake with your synopsis! If you’re struggling with getting everything down on paper then chances are you probably don’t have a very cohesive story that flows from beginning to end anyway. Instead of forcing it all into one paragraph, why not break it up into chapters? This is a great way of seeing it more clearly and can even help you figure out what is missing.
How do you format a synopsis?
A synopsis should have the following headings:
- Story Overview – Who is the protagonist and what is their major conflict? What is the story about, both thematically and plot-wise?
- Plot Overview – How does your story play out from beginning to end? This section is often broken up into a few smaller paragraphs that each touch on a different aspect of your story.
- Response to Story – This section is where you talk about the effect your story had on you. Remember, if you can’t feel it, chances are your agent or editor won’t either!
- Conclusion and Impact – How has this piece of work changed the industry? Has it made a significant contribution to the genre as a whole? This is your time to shine!
Synopsis is not only useful for agents and editors, but also for you. You can use them to help map out where your story starts and ends. When writing an outline prior to actually typing out the manuscript, keep in mind what information is important for readers who aren’t familiar with all the details of your story. Make things clear and concise with this in mind!