Synopsis Secrets

For the past few weeks I have been attempting to write the synopsis of the story I am currently working on.  I thought it would be simple.  Was I wrong.  So I did some research.  Everyone has a different opinion of what a synopsis actually is, when to write it and what should be included.  I presented the question to my writing group last Saturday which helped me narrow down what I exactly needed to do to complete my synopsis.  Here is what I learned.


What is a synopsis?

Webster defines it as “a shortened statement or outline, as of a narrative.”  A synopsis is primarily a condensation, an outline or a short presentation of an article, of an essay or of a book.  This is your chance to tell your story from beginning to end.  Your synopsis should focus on the main characters, the main plot and the main conflict.   What would you tell someone if they asked you what your story was about?  That is your synopsis.


How long should my synopsis be?

One author I recently had the pleasure of meeting, Lois Greiman, shared with us her rule of thumb for the length of a synopsis being 1 paragraph for each 10,000 words.  If you can summarize your story in 1 or 2 pages that would probably be an appropriate length for a synopsis.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be longer or shorter.  Your synopsis can be whatever length it takes for you to tell your story.  When you are ready to submit your synopsis to an editor or agent you might want to check their guidelines and edit your synopsis to meet their requirements.


What should I include in my synopsis?  Should I give away the ending?

A synopsis should tell the entire story from your beginning which hooks a reader to your shocking ending.  Your synopsis is not what is going on the back cover of your book so you aren’t giving away the plot.  A synopsis is used for submissions to an editor or agent.   You want them to want to read your story.


When do I write my synopsis?

This is the questions I have been asking myself and have yet to come to an adequate answer.  Would it be easier to write the synopsis before you begin your story?  This way it would help you stay on track as you write.  Or would it be better to keep a pen and paper handy and write down highlights of your story as you go?  Then you would have somewhat of a synopsis when you finish.  You can also wait until you finish your story to write your synopsis so you don’t feel obligated to stay on any one train of thought or story line, so you can venture off where ever your story takes you. 


How should my synopsis look?

Your synopsis should look professional. You should use quality white bond paper, 1” margins all the way around.  Double space your synopsis and use a standard font such as Courier New or Times New Roman in size 12 font.  Create a header listing your name, the title and the word ‘synopsis’ in the left corner and page number in the right corner.


Now you should be able to take on the task of writing your synopsis and have something worthwhile to show for it when you are finished.