Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tuesday Tip: The Dreaded Synopsis

If you've written a novel, you can write a synopsis. Say it to yourself: I can write a synopsis. I can write a synopsis. Believe me yet?

It may seem like a daunting task, but writing a synopsis is not as hard as it seems. You've written the novel, so you know the story. A synopsis is simply your novel's story--but much, much shorter. The trick is knowing what goes in. Here are a few things I kept in mind when I wrote my synopsis for my first middle grade novel:

  • Start at the beginning. Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
  • From there, include only the major plot points, not every little twist and turn.
  • Likewise, include only major characters. Who gets in your main character's way? Who helps them along?
  • Ask yourself: Is it ESSENTIAL to the summary to include this? If not, leave it out.
  • Keep it short, probably two pages or less for middle grade novels (some publishers may ask for only one page, so shorter--tighter!--is better).
  • Don't just list events. Keep it interesting. A synopsis should have drama and voice (the same style as your novel, but always in third person)!
  • Don't leave out the ending. If your main character dies at the end, say so. If all of his/her wildest dreams come true, say that too. A synopsis is not meant to be a teaser.
  • Have your critique group look it over for you, especially if they've read the book.
  • Relax and enjoy the challenge!
For more help on writing a synopsis, check out these links:


  1. Ugh, synopsis, my nemesis. I'm in the middle of writing one (or rather, not writing one). Thanks for the tips and the links.

  2. Aw, did you do this for me????? You angel! Thank you, thank you!

  3. MG--It's just one of those things that gotta get done. Keep going. You can do it!

    Elliah--yes, you were my inspiration! Hope I helped in some way. :-)


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