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Writing a Synopsis

A synopsis has a specific form.
It is written in the present tense no matter what tense your novel uses. It should follow a single viewpoint character, even if the novel involves more than one viewpoint character. A synopsis is written in third person, again, the novel may be done in first person. Sticking to these guidelines will reassure the editor or agent that you are being professional.

Your synopsis needs to be compelling. You will use it to hook an editor and keep him reading through to the end. If you can do this, you have your foot in the door.

A synopsis has a specific form.

It is written in the present tense no matter what tense your novel uses. It should follow a single viewpoint character, even if the novel involves more than one viewpoint character. A synopsis is written in third person, again, the novel may be done in first person. Sticking to these guidelines will reassure the editor or agent that you are being professional.

A synopsis should always include the end of the story. The agent or publisher needs to know that you are capable of ending your novel on a strong note.

The length of your synopsis should be the length the publisher asks for. If she requests 5 pages, send 5 pages or less. Do NOT send 12 pages. Unless, you weren’t serious about submitting and you want your work rejected at this point.  A good rule of thumb is 4 pages for every 100 pages of manuscript. In the publishing universe, short is always better. This means you shouldn’t be padding the synopsis just to meet a ratio of pages.

If you are sticking to one character you may not want to muck up the synopsis with a lot of subplot. Use subplot sparingly. Your synopsis should never stray from the main plot.

So, here comes a checklist.

Synopsis Checklist

  • Single or double spaced with 1 inch margins and numbered pages.
  • Written in the present tense no matter what your novel manuscript uses.
  • Written in the third person regardless of the novel being done in the first person.
  • Start with a strong hook.
  • Follow a single viewpoint character though the plot even if you have more than one main character.
  • Mention your chosen viewpoint character’s motivations and goals.
  • Follow the story chronologically from beginning to end.
  • Stick to the essential plot elements.
  • Use a dramatic tone and presentation.
  • Always include the ending.

This is part of a series of posts centered around Submission Packets. Use the Links to go back to the other posts.

Next week we can have a look at the second and maybe the third item on the Submission Packet List, a Query Letter and a Cover Letter.

Market Research Post

Submission Packet List

Sunday’s Topic will address Query Letters and Cover Letters at 7PM ET  

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