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. Anonymous10:29 PM

    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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