Writing an enticing synopsis is hugely important. If you want to get your book published, or sell it to a mass audience, your outline has to reveal just enough of what your story is about to intrigue the reader enough to want to know more.
Many authors, however, find synopsis writing hugely challenging, and no doubt getting it right can be tricky.
So what exactly is a synopsis?
A synopsis is a brief outline of your story. It gives an overview of your plot and introduces the reader to your characters and the world in which they live. Your synopsis should contain enough detail so that the person reading it can fully understand what your book is about and what happens in it, but not include every single event that occurs from beginning to end.
A synopsis is different from the book blurb that you might put if you were self-publishing on Amazon, for example. Where the blurb needs to be short and intriguing, a synopsis has a more practical purpose, and while it still needs to be well written and engaging, it is more informative and usually lengthier too.
Agents and publishers have different precise requirements for how what they want a synopsis to contain, so it is essential that you read these through on a case by case basis before submission.
What should a good synopsis contain?
A synopsis describes your characters
A synopsis will contain character descriptions for each of your main characters, and what happens to them during the story. The reader will want to know about the character arc, what happens to them, and how their character developed and changes over time.
A synopsis breaks down the story scene by scene
In your synopsis, you should be able to briefly explain your story in terms of the main scenes, showing how the action unfolds and why the reader will want to keep on turning those pages. Your synopsis needs to reveal what happens at each stage of the story, including how it ends. You might not want to explain this, seeing it as a ‘spoiler.’ However, this is the kind of information that agents and publishers want to know.
Knowing what to leave in and out of your synopsis can be troubling. After all, in your mind, everything that happens in your novel is necessary and advances the story in some way – but you have to be selective.
Try to keep the purpose of the synopsis in mind. It is functional. It is aimed at a literary professional. It helps them to understand the context of the story. That’s not to say you shouldn’t intend to write your synopsis in as engaging a way as possible. However try taking the story to the midpoint quickly, they want to know what catalyzes the action and how that action leads to the conclusion. Leave out the fluff, focus on the challenges, the big moments, the drivers, and demonstrate how these link together to deliver a coherent, exciting story that’s going to entice a large readership.
Remember, your synopsis is not your book. You need to trim the fat as much as possible, steer clear of any digressions and remember to include your spoilers – this is what will make agents and publishers excited about selling your book after all.
So there you have it, by following this guide to writing synopses you can ensure you make yours as effective and enticing as possible – good luck!