Authorship, Publishing, Books and More

Five Tips for Improving Your Synopsis



One thing lots of writers struggle with is writing a synopsis. It’s a necessary evil because most of the time it’s all publishers will let you submit. They base their first decision on how well you’ve done conveying your sometimes 70,000 plus word story into two or three pages.

I’ve been teaching a class on synopsis writing for close to a decade and thought I’d share my five favorite tips for making yours shine.

  1. Make an outline before you write your synopsis. Think of key events in the story, turning points, important snippets of information that the reader must know about in order for the story to make sense when it’s in synopsis form…especially important if you’re writing a romantic suspense or mystery.
  2.  Take this outline and then work your synopsis around it, filling in more detail about the characters, the conflict, etc.
  3.   Pretend that the story isn’t your own. It’s your critique partner’s novel and you have to tell someone else about it. Sit down and write what you’d tell them. Lots of people never get the hang of synopsis writing because they’re always too close to their work and think everything’s important and it becomes one long rambling mess. Learn to distance yourself with this exercise.
  4. Read it aloud and be brutally honest with yourself. Are parts sounding like you’re rambling on and on without conveying anything important about the characters or story? If this wasn’t your story would you truly want to read it after reading your synopsis? If you can’t honestly say yes, then how can you fix it? How can you make it more enticing?
  5. When it’s done, walk away. Don’t look at it for a few days, even a week, and then go back to it with a new set of eyes. You’d be surprised how different it reads after the passage of time. Once you’ve looked it over make the changes that you think necessary…and believe me, you will.


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