How to Write a Synopsis

The thought of writing a synopsis is enough to make dread swirl in our guts. After months of plotting, writing and editing – we’re finally faced with five things that stops us in our tracks.

  • Novel title
  • Pitch/Logline
  • Blurb
  • Synopsis

In this week’s blog, I’ll be breaking down the elements needed for synopsis writing. Hopefully – removing your fear of how to craft one. It’s not hard… honest. It’s simply a different process.

One thing I discovered while writing my first synopsis, is that literary agents and publishers wants the complete story. So don’t leave them hanging with your story. Reveal the climax and ending.

The one page synopsis is intended to communicate to agents and publishers that you have a complete plot and character arc. They’ll be able to identify if the story works as a whole.

EE card Synopsis Writing Novel Craft Story

Tell the story. Keep it simple. I like to skim through my novel jotting down notes of plot points: Action & Emotion. From the notes, I begin to shape my synopsis. The notes highlight the important story elements. Always write your synopsis in 3rd person, even if the novel is 1st person and write in present tense.

Think of this as more of a technical paper, it’s a factual explanation of the events that drive your story. Don’t evoke your writing style and voice.

Set the stage by providing the setting and introduce your main characters (Protagonist and antagonist). Always introduce each characters NAME in full capitals, the first time they’re mentioned. Then include where the story starts and identify the inciting moment. But keep it simple. Use a few well-chosen words to evoke meaning.

  • Person
  • Time/Place
  • Action
  • Consequence

From there we begin to flesh out the details by revealing what the protagonist and antagonist are planning to do. Showing how, why and when are they going to do this. Don’t include side quests, additional characters or plot twists – unless they’re vital in explaining the story arc. There will be practically no backstory or description, it will clutter the synopsis.

Finally, it’s time to reveal how the story ends and how it was achieved. Remember to link it back to the inciting moment.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and, 2018.


45 thoughts on “How to Write a Synopsis

  1. Ah, the dreaded synopsis. How to condense ninety- thousand words down to two-hundred and fifty words.
    A task that can be compared with trying to skin a live cat.
    Both leave you worn out, bleeding, and wondering if you’re sane.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Hook your agent, publisher, reader. How? Synopsis – IdeasBecomeWords

  3. I self-published my first and only book. So I haven’t had to go through the process of writing a synopsis. I did have to write a book description for amazon where my book is hosted. It was one of the hardest things I’ve written to date. I’m still not entirely happy with it. But then again, I probably never will be haha 🙂 A fantastic post!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That would be fantastic. I found it very difficult to praise my book in a manner that would interest readers. I ended up scrapping my first attempt altogether. For me, it’s a matter of trial and error right now to see what works.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Logline and the Perfect Pitch – Lorraine Ambers

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