Time and time again we see that writers, even after slogging through writing a whole book, struggle to write a concise and punchy synopsis.
Fresh from giving her Fiction Masterclass on How to Get an Agent, Kirsty Mclachlan offers these great tips for synopsis writing:
A synopsis is not a retelling of your book – it’s a stand-alone tool – and will help the agent to decide if they want to see more of your book.
The chapters is the sample of your writing – but the synopsis is the outline of your narrative. A good list of questions to ask yourself when
writing a synopsis is:
- What is the story about?
- Who are the main characters?
- What do these characters want?
- Why do they want it?
- What stands in their way of getting it?
- What is the theme of the novel?
- What is the novel about?
- What is their journey?
- What happens to them in the end
Don’t leave any cliff-hangers – you must include the whole story.
Read your synopsis aloud so you get a sense of how the words flow.
It must make sense – I read a synopsis that I just couldn’t understand and I had to ask the writer to explain – when an agent’s time is short, you don’t want this happening.
Synopsis are told in the present tense.
Some further helpful tips when writing a synopsis are:
- trim it down by taking out all adjectives and adverbs, unless really vital
- don’t include secondary characters or plots
- find someone who has a good ear to talk through the synopsis with and in trying to make them understand the story, you will hit all the right points
- take a look at the backs of other books, TV listings and film blurbs. They all manage to refine a story right down to the bare skeletons.