What is a synopsis?

A synopsis is a shortened version of your novel from beginning to end. It is more detailed than the blurb you will read at the back of the book. At times, writing a synopsis can be harder than writing an actual novel.

It should be written in the tone of your novel, a feat I find near impossible when trying to condense my stories into one page!

laptop notebook, how not to write a cover letter

As I’ve mentioned before, writing synopses is not my forte. I find condensing my novel into one page tedious. To make like easier I myself. I split it into bite-sized, colour-coded chunks. Once I am satisfied with my synopsis chunk, I’ll change the font colour to black.

Tips for writing a synopsis

  • Write in the third person, present tense.
  • State how the story ends. Never write an open-ended synopsis.
  • Use single-spacing with a 12-point font.
  • Include all the main characters.
  • You don’t have to include the subplots in your synopsis, just the main story-line is enough.

If you’re planning to submit your novel to literary agents be prepared and have the following to hand:

  •  A cover letter
  •  A outline of your novel
  •  A one page synopsis (a page and one quarter is supposedly okay).
  • A half a page synopsis
  • A full synopsis. You should start out with a full synopsis and then edit it to half a page, and finally a paragraph
  • A biography

What is an outline? 

I have never been asked to provide an outline. However, some overseas agents will ask for them. Of course, if you are writing non-fiction, a novel outline is a must, and you will normally have drawn one up prior to starting your book.

An outline is where you give a breakdown of you novel chapter by chapter. If you’re a writer who prepares a detailed outline of your story before writing it, providing an outline to a prospective literary agent or publisher shouldn’t be a problem.

If like me, you tend to plough straight into your story, you should write an outline as you go along. Always think about the next chapter and write a few sentences about what’s going to happen, even if you don’t stick to it, you can always change it later.