A Basic Guide to Writing Synopses
By Theresa Rizzo 2007
A synopsis is a brief summary of the novel that provides key
information about the characters, plot and conflict.
- It is almost always written
in third person, present tense
- Do not justify the right
- Use 1" margins on all
- It is common to type a
character's name in all caps—or to bold it, the first time he or she is
- In the
synopsis tell the whole story, hitting the essential plot points—including the ending.
agents and editors prefer a fiction synopsis about 2-3 pages double-spaced
- The greatest challenge is to
write as cleanly and as tightly as possible, using powerful verbs and few
adverb and adjectives.
to novel writing, in a synopsis you tell
rather than show.
written as one long unified narrative.
- Use no
- Do not
include subplots in a very short synopsis.
smoothly from one event to another.
- Weave characterization into
- Be sure to include
- The tone/style of writing in
the synopsis should reflect the tone/style of the book.
I typically start with a premise—or log line. A two sentence little blurb to hook the
agent/editor, introduce the main plot, key conflict, and characters, then
progress by introducing the main character, what her goal is and why she can’t
immediately attain it (conflict). Then
we move into the action of the story, but while hitting the highlights of the
plot, it’s important to remember to tell
the motivation and how the protagonist feels about and is affected by the
things that happen in the story.