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My quick tips for synopsis writing. (I might be wrong).


photo by Ana Tavares

Check submissions from agents and publishers on what they want from your synopsis.

Let me be clear, I don’t like writing a synopsis. Yes. It’s a very difficult task for me. In my opinion a synopsis is a one A4 typed page, single-spaced, 14 font size, concise summary of your whole book. It includes the beginning, middle and yes the ending, with all the twists and surprises laid bare.

(This is why it feels so unnatural to write.)



  • Think about the question.. what is my book about? Describe it in one line, two at the most.
  • Now that is done, what happens at the start, middle and end of your novel. Write one or two exciting sentences for each section, or write the best highlights from each section. Keep your language clear and active.
  • Focus on telling only the main bits of story.
  • Your synopsis could then piece together around this structure. Focus on tone and emotions reflecting the genre. If it is a romantic comedy, your language should be fun. If it is a crime novel, the tone and emotions should be reflect this etc.
  • Mention what point of view the novel it’s told from. Is it third person, first person? Past or present tense? (Word count too)
  • You don’t have to outline sub-plots or minor characters but ….
  • You do have to give the arc of the main plot to the end, covering the core highlights and emotions.
  • Give a quick character description of your main characters (who affect the plot), ‘John is an aging, male stripper, who likes to eat pineapples and sing karaoke, but also has a dark obsession with peeping in people’s windows.’
  • Stick to a few main characters and make their core conflicts clear.
  • Know your plot really well and tell it the way you would relate a movie to your friends over dinner. Skip the dull parts and things they don’t need to know.
  • It sounds weird to say this but something has to happen … The crime needs solved or a conclusion needs to be reached. An ending must bring resolution of some kind. A character must develop to be a better (or worse) person, all the action must lead to something.
  • Read it aloud to yourself. Record it. What does it sound like? What bits are not explained well enough? Read it to a friend. What main questions do they have about the characters? and the plot? If they have a heap and are confused, then the synopsis reader will be too. Don’t get too technical or bogged down in every detail. Remember it is a summary. 
  • A synopsis should have no typos or mistakes in names or details.
  • A novel is supposed to take the book’s reader on a long journey but the synopsis reader is in a fast-car on the short-cut.

I just need to follow my own advice now!

Best of luck in writing yours.

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