A Strong Synopsis

The importance of summarizing your novel.


Before writing one word of that novel that’s been percolating in your head, get to work on its synopsis. Just as the query letter and final draft of your manuscript need to be perfect, your synopsis has to be spotless as well, because you want editors and agents to take your work seriously.

So what goes into a great synopsis? The elements are the same as those in a story: a beginning, middle, and end. The average length of a synopsis is one page, which is five paragraphs. In the first paragraph, the author identifies the story, providing information about the plot, setting, and main characters. The next three paragraphs tell more about what happens. The final paragraph has one purpose: to present a resolution to the conflict.

Think of summarizing your novel in terms of relating it to a friend. If you can do this easily, then you’ve got a synopsis. But if you can’t sum up your story in a few paragraphs, you should spend more time arranging your thoughts.

As you craft your synopsis, keep in mind you want to capture the reader’s attention from the very first sentence. Agents and editors don’t want to yawn while looking at submissions. If they’re bored by your synopsis, it’s unlikely they’ll bother with your manuscript. So make your synopsis stand out! It’s your best chance to make a lasting impression.

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