What Is a Synopsis?

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.

Categories: how to write a novel, writing, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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