how to write a synopsis for a novel

How To Write A Synopsis For A Novel

When you’re writing a novel, it’s crucial to have a good idea of what your story is about. This is especially true if you submit your book to publishers or agents. You need to be able to describe your book in a few sentences (or less). This is called a synopsis. A synopsis is like the back of a book that tells readers what’s inside the pages. It gives them an idea about what they’re going to read and whether or not it’s worth their time and money. So how do you write one? Here’s a guide on how to write a synopsis for a novel.

What is a novel synopsis?

A novel synopsis is essentially a summary of the story. It should include the main conflict, the major characters involved, and the story’s resolution. Most synopses are no more than a few hundred words long, although some may be longer depending on the novel’s length. Synopses can be written before the book is even begun, or they may be written after it is finished.

Either way, they can help the author focus on the story’s most essential aspects and provide a brief overview for potential readers. By offering a synopsis, an author can give readers a glimpse into their work and invite them to take a journey into the world they have created.

Five reasons to learn how to write a synopsis for a novel

There are countless reasons to learn how to write a synopsis for a novel. Here are five of the most important ones.

1. It helps you stay on track

As a novelist, you may find that learning how to write a synopsis for a novel can be incredibly helpful for various reasons. For one thing, it can help you stay on track as you write. It can be easy to get caught up in subplots or to introduce new characters midway through the book, but if you have a synopsis that outlines the main plot points, it will be easier to stay focused.

In addition, a synopsis can be a helpful tool when revising your novel. After living with your story for a while, stepping back and seeing the forest for the trees can be challenging. But if you have a synopsis, it will be easier to identify any plot holes or inconsistencies. 

2. It provides a roadmap for readers

A synopsis is a summary of a novel that tells the reader what the book is about without giving away too much information. For many readers, a synopsis provides a helpful roadmap to help them decide whether or not to read a particular book. However, writing a good synopsis is not always easy. It can be challenging to condense an entire novel into just a few paragraphs, and it can be tempting to include spoilers.

Nevertheless, learning how to write a good synopsis is well worth the effort, as it can be a valuable skill for both authors and readers. When done correctly, a synopsis can provide readers with enough information to whet their appetites without giving away too much of the storyline.

3. It can help generate interest in your novel

Learning to write a synopsis is essential if you’re hoping to interest an agent or publisher in your novel. When submitting your work for consideration, it is customary to include a synopsis along with the first few chapters of your book.

The purpose of a synopsis is twofold: to give the reader an overview of your story and to demonstrate your writing ability. A well-written synopsis can be the difference between getting your foot in the door or having your work passed over.

4. It can be used as a marketing tool

A synopsis can also be used as a marketing tool, whether trying to interest a potential reader or promote your book to the general public. If you’re planning to submit an article or guest blog post about your novel, including a brief synopsis is a great way to generate interest and let people know about your book.

In addition, if you’re doing any public speaking or giving interviews about your work, having a synopsis on hand can be extremely helpful. A well-crafted synopsis can be an excellent introduction to your novel and help pique people’s curiosity.

5. It can act as a writing exercise

Finally, writing a synopsis can be a helpful writing exercise in and of itself. It can be beneficial to think about your novel in terms of its major plot points and to try to distill it down to its essence. What are the most important things that happen in your story?

By writing a synopsis, you may find that you have a better understanding of your work and what makes it unique. In addition, this exercise can help you hone your writing skills and improve your ability to condense complex information into a more manageable form.

Eight steps of how to write a synopsis for a novel

There are eight essential steps of how to write a synopsis for a book. While it can be challenging, the effort is well worth it as a good synopsis can help generate interest in your work and serve as an excellent marketing tool.

Step 1: Start with the title and author’s name

The first step in how to write a synopsis for a novel is to start with the title and author’s name. Begin by writing the title of your book, followed by your name as it appears on the cover and spine. This will help readers identify the work quickly and easily.

Step 2: Provide a brief overview of the story

The second step in writing a novel’s synopsis is to provide a brief overview of the story. This can be done by briefly describing what happens in each chapter and how it relates to the plot. It’s important not to give away too much information but just enough for readers to get an idea of your book.

Step 3: Summarize the main points of your story

The third step in how to write a synopsis for a novel is to summarize the main points of your story. This can be done by listing the major themes, characters, and conflicts throughout the book and explaining how they impact each other. It’s important not to give away too much information but just enough for readers to get an idea of your book.

Step 4: Reveal your characters

The fourth step in writing a novel’s synopsis is to reveal your characters. This includes describing the story’s protagonist, antagonist, and other essential characters. You can also use this section of your synopsis to explain why these characters make good protagonists or antagonists and how they impact each other’s lives.

Step 5: Highlight your story’s main conflict

The fifth step in writing a novel’s synopsis is highlighting your story’s main conflict. This should summarize what happens in the first few chapters of your book, including all major plot points that occur before the climax. You don’t need to get into too much detail here because this section gives people an overall idea of what happens in each chapter so they can decide if they would like to read more.

Step 6: Explain the denouement

The sixth step in how to write a synopsis for a novel is to explain the denouement. This is the final part of your book, where all conflicts are resolved, and everything comes together. While this section will be briefer than the other three, you must explain what happens in each chapter, so people get an idea of what happens during this critical period.

Step 7: End your synopsis on an appropriate note

The seventh step in how to write a synopsis for a novel is to end your synopsis on a right note. This is the last section of your summary, and it should tell people what happens after all conflicts are resolved. Explain how the story ends so that readers know if they want to read more or not.

Step 8: Polish your synopsis

Once you’ve written your novel synopsis, you must polish it. You should proofread it for spelling and grammatical mistakes, but also take a step back from the document and see if there are any more significant issues with your story summary. Is anything confusing or missing? If so, go back through the story to ensure all of those elements are included in your final draft.

Five tips when writing a synopsis for a novel

how to write a synopsis for a novel

Here are five tips to keep in mind when writing a synopsis for your novel.

1. Write the synopsis like you are telling a story

If you’re not sure how to do this, think about how you would tell your friend about a book you read or an episode of your favorite TV show. You don’t just give them the basic plot; you also describe what happens in each scene and why it matters. This is a good method for writing a synopsis because it keeps readers engaged and helps them understand the big picture of what happened in your story.

2. Don’t assume your readers know world-building details

When you write a synopsis for your novel, it’s important to remember that most people won’t have read your book. If you mention a character’s hobby or occupation, you should explain what it means in the story’s context.

For example, if the main character is an architect and builds houses all day long but never sleeps because he has insomnia—that’s worth mentioning in the synopsis! Otherwise, readers may get confused when they start reading and see him building houses all day long.

3. Don’t go overboard with descriptions

If you’re a writer who loves to get into the nitty-gritty of description and detail, keeping yourself from going overboard when writing a synopsis can be challenging. This is especially true if you’re working on an epic fantasy novel with tons of fantastical elements that need explaining. But try sticking with the basics if you want your readers to get lost in all the details (which most likely means they won’t finish reading).

For example, if you’re writing a synopsis for a sci-fi novel, the most important thing to include is that it takes place in the future and on another planet. Readers don’t need to know every little detail about how this other planet operates or what its inhabitants look like; give them enough information for them to understand what type of story they’re reading.

4. Avoid scenes, characters, and dialogue that aren’t relevant to the plot

Including all of the necessary information in your synopsis is essential, but that doesn’t mean you should include everything. If a scene or character has no bearing on the plot, don’t waste space in your synopsis mentioning it.

For example, if your novel is about a woman who moves back to her hometown after losing her husband and child in an accident, don’t mention what happens at her daughter’s birthday party when it doesn’t impact anything else in the story.

5. The synopsis should be short

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth mentioning because it can be tempting to write a synopsis that’s pages and pages long. But unless you’re writing a series of novels or epic fantasy, your synopsis should be only 1-2 pages.

Remember, the point of a synopsis is to give readers a brief overview of your story so they can decide whether they want to read it or not. If you include too much information, they may feel they don’t need to read the book because they already know what happens.

Five tips to avoid spoilers when writing a synopsis for a novel

When you’re writing a synopsis for your novel, it can be tempting to include everything that happens in the story—including the ending. But resist the urge! A good synopsis should give readers a general idea of what your novel is about without giving away too much information. Here are five tips to avoid spoilers when writing a synopsis for your novel.

1. Don’t include the ending

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. The ending is the most crucial part of your story, so don’t give it away in the synopsis. Instead, end on a cliffhanger or with a question that will make readers want to know more.

2. Avoid describing the characters in too much detail

When you’re writing a synopsis, it’s important to give readers an idea of who the main characters are. But you don’t want to go into too much detail about their appearance or personality, as this could spoil the story.

3. Don’t describe the setting in too much detail

Similarly, you don’t want to give away too much information about the setting of your story. Describe it enough so that readers have a general idea of where the story takes place, but don’t go into such detail that it spoils the story.

4. Be vague about subplots

If your novel has subplots, don’t go into too much detail about them in the synopsis. Just give a brief overview of what they’re about and how they tie into the main plot.

5. Use general terms instead of specific names

When you’re writing a synopsis, it can be tempting to use specific names for things—like the name of a character or the title of a book. But doing this could give away too much information and spoil the story. Instead, use general terms that will give readers an idea of what you’re talking about without giving too much away.

Five common mistakes when writing a synopsis for a novel

When writing a synopsis for your novel, it’s essential to avoid making common mistakes that could end up costing you your readers. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when writing a synopsis for your novel.

1. Don’t summarise each and every scene

When writing a synopsis, it can be tempting to summarise every scene in your novel. But resist the urge! This will just result in a synopsis that’s too long and boring. Instead, focus on the key scenes that advance the plot.

2. Avoid using flashbacks

Flashbacks can be a great way to fill in readers on what happened in the past, but they can also be confusing and distracting. If you use flashbacks in your synopsis, make sure they’re relevant to the current plot and essential to understanding the story.

3. Don’t include too much description

It’s important to give readers a general idea of your novel, but you don’t want to have so much description that it spoils the story. Be sparing with your words and only include essential information.

4. Avoid using jargon

Jargon is a type of language specific to a particular subject or industry. It can help make your synopsis more concise but confuse readers unfamiliar with the term. Unless you’re sure your reader will understand the jargon, avoid using it in your synopsis.

5. Don’t make assumptions about your reader

When writing a synopsis, it’s important to remember that not everyone will know as much about your story as you do. Avoid making assumptions about your reader’s knowledge and include information that will help them understand the plot.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some of your frequently asked questions about how to write a synopsis for a novel!

What is the difference between a synopsis and a summary?

At its most basic level, a synopsis is a distillation of the key plot points of a story, while a summary provides a brief overview of the work as a whole. However, there are more nuanced differences between the two. A synopsis is typically shorter than a summary, focusing primarily on the story’s main conflict and resolution.

In contrast, a summary can be longer and provide more detail on secondary plotlines and characters. Additionally, a summary often includes the author’s assessment of the work, while a synopsis largely sticks to accurate descriptions of the plot. Ultimately, whether you’re writing a synopsis or summary, the goal is to give your reader a clear understanding of the work.

How many paragraphs is a synopsis?

A synopsis is typically one to four paragraphs and provides a brief overview of the main points of a book, article, or other work. The length will vary depending on the purpose of the synopsis and the audience for which it is intended. For example, a one-paragraph synopsis might be sufficient to provide an overview for an editor or agent. In contrast, a four-paragraph synopsis might be more appropriate for a book club or classroom discussion.

While a synopsis is not as detailed as a complete summary, it should still include the work’s main characters, conflict, and resolution. In addition, a good synopsis will give readers a sense of the work’s overall tone and style. Whether you’re writing a synopsis for personal or professional purposes, following these tips will help you create a clear and concise overview of the work.

How do you start a book?

There’s no single answer to how to start a book. Every author has their process, and what works for one person may not work for another. That said, a few general guidelines can be helpful when you’re trying to figure out how to get started on your next project.

One of the most important things to do is to take some time to outline your story. What are the main events that need to happen? Who are the characters, and what motivates them? Once you have a good sense of the overall shape of your story, you can start writing the first draft.

It’s also important to be flexible and willing to make changes. Don’t be afraid to add or delete scenes, and let your characters take the lead. After all, they’re the ones who know what happens next. Trust them, and keep writing until you reach the end.

What is a blurb?

A blurb is a short description of a book, article, or another piece of writing. Also, it is typically found on the back cover, inside the flap of a book, or on an author’s website. A blurb may indicate the plot or describe the characters in the work. However, its primary purpose is to entice readers to read the book or article. In recent years, blurbs have become increasingly popular to market books and other works.

As such, they are often written by professional copywriters or publicists. Nevertheless, authors sometimes write blurbs for their own work to give potential readers a taste of their writing style. Whatever their origin, blurbs are an essential part of the marketing process and can be a valuable tool for promoting both new and established authors.

Conclusion

A brief overview of a book, article, or other work is a synopsis. It typically includes the story’s main characters, conflict, and resolution. When writing a synopsis, it’s essential to be clear and concise. Give readers a sense of the work’s overall tone and style, but don’t include your story assessment. Whether you’re writing a synopsis for personal or professional purposes, following these tips will help you create a clear and concise overview of the work!

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