This is a popular question, mostly because everyone seems to define a synopsis differently. Is it one page or fifty? Does it give away the ending or not? Here’s what you need to know.
A synopsis is a condensed description of your entire novel told in present tense. It’s similar to the back cover copy (or jacket copy) of a published novel, and for good reason. Both of them are used to sell a novel to someone. The jacket copy sells it to the reader; but long before that happens, the synopsis sells your novel to the editor. One of the things an editor wants to know is that you’ve written a good story from beginning to end, which is why a synopsis also includes the ending of the story (whereas the jacket copy almost never does). The trick is to remember that a synopsis is actually a sales tool, rather than a literary work. Keep that in mind, and it’ll make the process of writing one go a lot easier.
HOW TO FORMAT A SYNOPSIS
- Double-spaced 12-point Courier or Times New Roman
- One-inch margins all around
- Tell the story in third person, present tense
- The first time you mention a character, put her name in ALL CAPS
- Omit any dialogue
- Keep it short; 1-2 pages if possible
- At the end, put “THE END” or just ###
Not sure how to go about writing a synopsis? Fret not. Tune in next week and I’ll show you how to write a synopsis the quick and easy way. No kidding!
And in the meantime, if you have a writing question, just ask.