I know writers who hate the very thought of writing a synopsis. Some say it stifles their creativity when it comes down to writing the book. Others say they don’t want to know what happens until a situation shows up organically in their writing. But when trying to find an agent, or sell an idea to an editor, a clear, concise synopsis is an important tool.
Preparing a Synopsis: The author’s name and working book title should be in a header on every page, with the pages numbered consecutively. The text should be double spaced within 1 inch margins.
A rule no one ever explains is why a synopsis is written in present tense, but it is.
Synopsis Content: Stick to essential details. Boring clutter confuses the reader. Some writers start by listing the names of the main characters and their ages. There are a variety of ways to write a synopsis. I know writers who like to tell the highlights of every chapter. They don’t show chapter numbers, but list exciting events that moves the chapter forward.
The words you use in a synopsis are chosen for impact. They speak of character, of situation, of motivation, of conflict and of resolution.
Your style should be showcased: Your voice, your method of presentation, your individuality should stand out in a synopsis. You want your uniqueness to shine through.
There really is no right or wrong way to organize a synopsis as long as you give the reader enough information about the characters, the setting and points that are of importance in how your characters travel through your plot. You want to show the time period of the story and give a sense of tone. By that I mean is your story funny, poignant, or ominous. Or it may be a combination of emotional effects.
If you don’t introduce all of the characters that appear in the synopsis at the beginning, underline any new character and introduce them in the order they would appear in your story.
Some writers say to never use dialogue, but others believe judicious use of snippets of dialogue may help define a character’s role in the book.
It’s helpful if you organize the scenes you want to highlight prior to beginning to write your synopsis. You want the story to unfold naturally to the reader, and knowing your scenes keeps you from adding extraneous bits and pieces.
A synopsis starts at the beginning of the story. It presents a brief but interesting capsule of the content, or body of the work, and tells how the story ends. Never leave a synopsis hanging, hoping to intrigue an editor or agent. They will not be intrigued.
In simplistic terms, list main characters, show their internal and external conflicts, salt in character development, spell out motivations for them to change, and give the resolution that brings the book to a satisfying conclusion. Expect that new problems, new twists and turns for your characters will show up in the nitty gritty detail that comes with fleshing out your book. A synopsis is merely a brief overview.