So, what do you need after you have edited your novel? If you intend to submit it for publication or to an agent, a synopsis is a requirement. Even in self-publishing, a synopsis is a great exercise to summarise your novel for marketing and creating your blurb.
A synopsis is more than a summary of your novel. It must capture the attention of a publisher or agent. A working document, it condenses your plot succinctly, introduces the major protagonists, defines the conflict, and ties it all up into a logical and satisfying ending.
There is a plethora of web pages devoted to the art of writing a perfect synopsis. It is well worth Googling “how to write a synopsis for a novel.” You will find a treasure trove of information. I found two web sites helpful when writing this piece for the Indie Scriptorium blog. https://jericowriters.com and https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis-step-by-step-guide and have summarised their information.
- Start with a pitch line that demands attention.
- Announce the title and mention the genre, word count, setting and era.
- The synopsis must be short and easy to read. I recommend one page. Single spaced with a word count of 500-700 words but if submitting a novel for a competition, agent, or publisher check if they have specific requirements.
- Grammar, spelling, and word selection must be perfect. The synopsis is selling you as a writer. Get it checked by someone with editing skills.
- Write in the third person and use gender neutral language. E.g., police officer, not policeman.
- Cover all the major plot points, including spoilers and the ending. There should be no mysteries in a synopsis. The publisher wants to know you have finished the book, and it has a great ending.
- Name two or three of major protagonists and their motivations. Bring them alive. Demonstrate how they grow and change and make them shine.
- Clearly convey the tone of the novel but the emphasis is the story, allow the theme to sneak in without belabouring the point.
- Avoid praising yourself in a synopsis or include positive reader reviews.
Expect to write, rewrite, rewrite and then do it again so give yourself time to get it right.
Elsie King © 2022 Photo © L.C. Wong 2022