Has your literary agent requested a synopsis? Congratulations! That means your query letter was impressive. Maybe that’s because you hired seasoned professionals to craft you a highly effective query letter. But what do you do now? The synopsis is one of the most dreaded parts of the publishing process.
Don’t panic. Millions of authors before you have written successful synopses, and you can too. All manuscripts are different and unique, but there’s still a general format that most book synopses assume. To help guide you, we’ve provided a synopsis example and five helpful tips below.
This is a synopsis example for a novel entitled Yasmine. Let’s dive deeper into it and take away some key insights.
1. Keep it brief.
The example synopsis is only two pages. The full manuscript is far, far longer. No author is happy about condensing their entire beloved manuscript into a mere couple pages, but it must be done. Instead of thinking about it as squeezing the full novel into a 500-word description, think of it as expanding your book blurb into a whole one or two pages. It’s much easier to keep your writing succinct, like in the synopsis example, if you conceptualize it in this way.
2. Mention only the most important details.
How many characters are mentioned in the synopsis example of Yasmine? Only five. Even though the actual novel certainly contains more than five characters, only the five most important are mentioned in the synopsis. When you have only a couple of pages to convey the entire storyline of your manuscript, you really have to skimp on the details, as this example demonstrates. As a rule of thumb, if the storyline wouldn’t make sense without mentioning a certain character, introduce them—and if not, leave them out.
3. Keep the writing style simple.
Some authors assume that, because the synopsis is the first example of the author’s writing that the literary agent sees, they should employ elaborate, flowery prose. Don’t do that. As you can see in the synopsis example, a writing style that is clear and straightforward is the way to go in a book synopsis. Since you have extremely limited space, you have to use it wisely. Use strong, clear, effective writing to convey as much of the plot as possible within the word limit.
It’s true that the synopsis also functions as a sample of your writing, but the ability to write clearly and effectively is just as important as the ability to weave flowery, poetic prose.
4. Add emotion.
Emotion is the foundational driver behind story plots. If you wrote your book mechanically, simply retelling facts and events in a matter-of-fact tone, no one would read it. Your synopsis serves as an example of the story in your manuscript, so make sure to convey the events succinctly yet vividly. The synopsis example makes use of strong adjectives, adverbs, and verbs to transmit Yasmine’s feelings throughout the events she goes through. The synopsis is not simply a report; it tells a story—a highly condensed story, but a story nonetheless.
5. Reveal the ending.
A synopsis is not a book blurb. Yes, its goal is to interest the agent and entice them to read the full book, but while a reader is looking for entertainment and enjoyment, an agent is looking for marketability and a solid narrative arc. That means you have to reveal the ending, even if it’s a really interesting and unforeseeable twist ending. The book synopsis for Yasmine reveals the ending—in this case, a bittersweet ending where Yasmine is flooded with various emotions that help her determine her true identity.
No author likes having to reduce their entire manuscript into 500 words to impress the literary agent, and it may seem like an impossible task—but it’s not. Take your time, do your research, and produce your highest-quality writing. If you study our synopsis example and practice our tips, you’re much more likely to produce a high-quality synopsis that serves as a fantastic example of your novel and entices the agent to request the full manuscript.
What if you’re still only dreaming of getting to the synopsis stage? Maybe you still haven’t received any requests for a synopsis. That could be because your query letter isn’t effective enough. If you’re struggling, don’t worry—help is available. You can have experienced professionals who know how to impress a literary agent craft an amazing query letter for you.