5 Steps to Writing a Book Synopsis

I like to write.  It feels really good to be in my comfy desk chair, my research piled around me, my fingers flying over the keyboard. What I don’t so much care for is all the extra stuff writers need to do, such as writing a synopsis.  Still, I know it is an important part of any proposal.  No synopsis, no book deal.

So how can you write a successful synopsis?  Follow these 5 steps:

  1. Start Right.  Your first paragraph should be sharp enough to grab the editor’s attention.  Think of it as a possible jacket blurb.  Establish the mood and tone right at the beginning.
  2. Introduce your Main Characters. Flesh them out enough to make them real, but leave out what is not essential. Succinctly lay out their motivations, conflicts, and goals.
  3. Construct the Body of Your Synopsis. Tell your story, taking care to include the high points—conflicts and resolutions–in the order in which they occur. Include a few bits of dialog–strong lines (funny, exciting, interesting) that reveal important information.  Keep your writing tight.
  4. End with the Crisis and Final Resolution. Nope, don’t keep the editor guessing about how your story ends.  Make the resolution as compelling as possible.
  5. Edit Until it is the Best You Can Make it:  Rewrite until every word and every sentence is right. Be certain the synopsis is entirely written in the present tense. Keep it concise but strong; the best length is no more than three pages. 

 Easy?  Nope.  Important?  Absolutely!

“Every writing project must be reduced before you start to write.”

William Zinsser, On Writing Well



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4 responses to “5 Steps to Writing a Book Synopsis

  1. Fabulous, Kay. I printed this out to follow as a guide when I do my next synopsis. Thank you!

  2. You are most welcome. Have you got the next book in mind?

  3. I am working on a book project this summer and writing a synopsis…or at least learning how to write a great one is one my “to-do” list! Thanks so much… I printed it off as well.

  4. Oooo, I’m looking forward to hearing more about this new book!

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