6 Do’s and Don’t’s for Writing Your Synopsis

You’ve finished editing your novel now, so you’re probably thinking about sending it out to an agent. This can be the hardest part, as you’ve got to research exactly what the agent wants from you and give them just that. Undoubtedly, they’ll want a top notch synopsis from you, so here’s a few do’s and don’t’s for you to bear in mind when you’re writing yours.

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Do include everything

And by everything, we mean everything. You must include the end of your novel, that ending you worked so hard on to shock the readers with. It will hurt you to do this, but 99% of agents want it. Think about it; if they don’t know the ending, how are they meant to decide whether your story is any good?

Don’t waffle

So you’re really proud of this one scene you’ve written, I get that, but don’t waste half of your synopsis talking about it. Glide over it the same as you have with the rest of the plot, so that when the agent reads the actual manuscript they can experience it in all its glory. Try to be concise. Think hard about the words you choose, because you don’t have too many of them to impress with. Try to describe things in as few words as possible whilst still giving all the information in an interesting way.

Do pay attention to your agent’s preferences

Every agent wants something different. Some want a one page synopsis, whilst others want ten pages. If you really can’t find a way to fit your synopsis onto one page then pick a different agent; sending a three page synopsis to someone who only wanted one won’t get you anywhere. Agents may also specify how many paragraphs they want on plot and how may they want on characters. Listen to their wants and respond to them well.

Don’t include too many names

A synopsis is meant to be a concise summary of the key points in your novel. This means only including the characters that are essential to the plot. Putting too many names in your synopsis can be very confusing, which can put people off your novel. My general rule is to mention a maximum five people. These should be the protagonist, the antagonist, and then anyone else you feel is very important to the plot, for example, the protagonist’s sidekick.

Do keep it simple

This doesn’t just apply to your wording, but also the look of your synopsis on the page. Your word choice should be simple but effective, giving as much information about plot and character as possible. On the page though, your synopsis should look easy to read. Keep it a simple font, for example Times New Roman, and make it 12pt. Don’t add any unnecessary embellishments; even the title ‘synopsis’ should be simply in bold.

Don’t add your style

You’re a writer, which means you have a writing style. Letting this creep into your synopsis is fine, up to a certain point, but remember that your synopsis should be written very neutrally in third person to give the best and most straight forward view of your novel. Try not to slip into the voice of your protagonist, and try not to write the usual poetic descriptions that you put in your novel. This isn’t the place for them.

 

These six simple tips should help you to write a synopsis that impresses the agent you send it to. Work hard on it; after all, it’s just as important as your novel. Don’t forget that this one page of writing (or ten pages!) could be what gets your book published. Work at it, put in the time, and you’ll hopefully get the results you want.

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