Help with Novel Synopsis Writing

A synopsis is probably the most difficult assignment you may be asked to prepare. This work may usually be required when a publisher wants to know what the book is about without its in-depth reading. As such, a good synopsis should convey the book narrative arc. Generally speaking, a synopsis should reveal what happens in the story, who are the main characters and how they develop throughout the story, as well as the culmination of the story. If you have to do this task, you definitely need help with novel synopsis writing from a professional writing agency. Just keep reading our article, and you will learn many effective secrets of synopsis writing.

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The first thing you should know about synopsis writing is that there is no a universal secret of a successful synopsis. Of course, there are general rules that can facilitate the whole writing process but every specialist writes his/her synopsis in accordance with own algorithm. As for the length of the synopsis, you need to keep it short without overburdening it with unnecessary details. However, if the requirements of the publishing house require the opposite, you need to follow them. Most agents/publishers read many synopses every day, and they simply do not want to waste their time on long papers. As such, to succeed with your synopsis writing, you need to keep it short but at the same time intriguing and meaningful.

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Why Is the Synopsis So Important in the Literature World?

A synopsis allows a publisher to understand the motivation of the characters, learn about the plot twists, or understand the essence of the conflict in the story without reading a lengthy work.

If a synopsis contains the hook that intrigues and engages readers, it will make the publisher spend some time on reading the book. You will be surprised, but most agents and editors hate reading the synopses since they are standard and boring. In order to succeed, you need to show that your synopsis is worth attention. Usually, synopses are written in the third person and in the present tense.

Key Peculiarities of a Novel Synopsis

First, you need to pick up the main story characters and talk about them. If there are only a few characters, tell about all of them. However, if there are many characters, focus your attention on the protagonist and antagonist. Explain the essence of their conflict and their motivation. Indeed, motivation is truly important when writing a synopsis because readers should understand what drives the characters to action. Also, the audience should understand what caused the conflict and how the protagonist succeeds in dealing with it. Undoubtedly, the audience wants to learn how the conflict is resolved and what measures are taken for its resolving. What is more, it is critically important to tell how this conflict or situation has changed the protagonist. If you manage to include these three important aspects, most probably, you will not have space for other meaningless details. Undoubtedly, when writing a synopsis, you are unable to describe every character or event happening in your story. Probably, you will want to discuss the most intriguing plot twists and mention some subplots. As such, you cannot avoid broad generalization so do not be afraid or it. Therefore, if some events do not contribute much to the development of the story, feel free to avoid them. We assure you that the grade for your synopsis depends on your ability to prioritize the characters and events.

In order to understand which characters deserve to be mentioned in the synopsis, you need to look at their contribution to the story conflict. Think if the story could be different without the presence of the specific characters. When mentioning some character, do not forget to mention his/her relationship with the protagonist. A good tip for synopsis writers: if you want to understand what should stay and what should go in your synopsis, you should check if the ending would make sense without the particular character or event.

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Proper Novel Synopsis Format

There is no much difference between the novel synopsis format and the novel manuscript format. It should include a title. The margins should be set as one inch. The spacing should be set as double. All the paragraphs should be indented and the pages numbered. The font should be easy to read, so 12 pt. Times New Roman would be perfect.

It is true with the only exception of a one-page synopsis. It is typically composed in a standard novel synopsis format with 500-800 summary included. It is supposed to be submitted to the agent as a part of a pack with an outlined plot and clear storyline presented in simple language. It is important to mention all the key twists of the plot, all the important scenes, and all the characters.

According to the standards of novel synopsis format, it is common to have a short one-page summary with single spacing, but there is no difference in other rules of formatting. There should be the author’s name mentioned along with the title and the word ‘synopsis.’

A manuscript has two distinct features that make it different from synopsis in terms of formatting. First of all, it is essential to keep to present tense third person in the text notwithstanding the actual point of view or tense. Secondly, all the names of the characters are written in all caps when they appear in the text for the first time.

You should definitely check on every specific set of guidelines for a particular synopsis as the publishers or agents may have their own view of instructions. A standard format will be ok if there are no additional comments.

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Common Synopsis Mistakes

Most students mistakenly believe that writing a synopsis requires just telling the plot. However, it is not right. Such an approach is very dry and lacks the texture and depth. Therefore, it will never bring you a positive grade. Only imagine, who would watch the soccer if the comments were like “Manchester United scored. Than Chelsea scored. Then, Manchester United scored again. Finally, Manchester United won the game.” Such a synopsis is sterile and does not give the slightest idea whether the game was interesting. Alternatively, one could comment: “This season underdog, Manchester United managed to get three points is a tensional match due to the patience and brilliant tactics.”

When writing a novel synopsis, try to avoid the most common pitfalls:

  1. Do not focus your attention on the specific peculiarities of the characters, plot, and events. Focus on the most meaningful aspects. Do not exceed the word limit.
  2. Call your characters by names, however, if they play specific roles, you may mention them as well. For example, “Paul, the pilot, was frightened. He did not have a little chance for mistake.”
  3. Do not interpret your story. Remember that the synopsis focuses on the story itself but not on its interpretation.
  4. Avoid telling the characters` background, unless it is related to their motivation and the conflict development. If there are some flashbacks in your story, you should not include them in your synopsis unless they are important to what happens in your novel and why this happens. One-two sentences are enough to explain the character`s background.
  5. Avoid including the dialogues unless it is necessary. If you use some dialogue, make sure it is of paramount importance for understanding the conflict.
  6. Do not use rhetorical questions. Keep in mind that your primary goal is to entice your audience;
  7. Avoid splitting the synopsis into sections. Let it be a single unit.
  8. Whereas a synopsis is a perfect field for improving your writing skills, avoid lengthy descriptions overburdened with the poetical figures. When writing a synopsis on your story, show it from the best angles. Imagine that you are a seller, who is trying to recommend his/her product or service to people.

A Few Rules for the Fiction Writers

Do not forget that ordinary people know nothing about the world created by you. Thus, it would be great if you included a few introductory phrases that would help the readers imagine themselves in the fantastic world created by the writer`s imagination. We assure you that this will help understand the characters and their motivation better. For instance, when writing a synopsis on Harry Potter, you must tell the readers why the word is divided into the Muggles and wizards. However, do not exceed the allowed limit for description. Remember that your goal is to tell the story.

  • Avoid Wordiness

Synopsis language should be stripped down because the wordy sentences will significantly undermine its quality.

  • Wordy Sentence

At her workplace, Megan always argues with David not only about the working issues but also the personal ones, which does not allow other people to focus at work.

  • Tight Sentence

At work, Megan always confronts David, which influences the overall atmosphere.

Before writing, brainstorm. Identify the key characters and events you want to discuss. Create a short outline, which will help you stay concise and focused. Do not forget to mention the conflict resolution in your last sentences. All in all, there are many novel synopsis templates available online. Download some of them and boost your writing inspiration!


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