What Should be Included in a Synopsis?
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- The synopsis should be typed using a plain font, such as Times New Roman or Arial point 12.
- Typos and grammatical errors are banned
- The synopsis should be no longer than 250 words long, printed on one side of the page
- The author’s details should be exhibited at the top
- The story should be told in the present tense
- No dialogue should be included
- Some publishing houses, request that the character’s name should be in capitals the first time it is shown on the synopsis and in title case thereafter
- The story should be told in an informal way (no slang terms or colloquialisms).
- All key scenes and plot twists should be included and briefly described
- No cliff-hangers allowed. The ending should be revealed to show the writer has created a white-knuckle conclusion and tied all loose ends
- Lastly, the synopsis should compel the reader to the state of oblivion to what is going on, which is the most difficult and important part.
The synopsis should also reflect the feel of the novel, and describe accurately the novel’s events. The publisher would understandably be disgruntled if the synopsis showed promise that the novel failed to deliver. It is therefore vital that the author reads and rereads the synopsis to ensure it accurately portrays the novel.
However, going over the synopsis too much could make errors invisible. In this respect, it would be worth getting another reader to go through the synopsis to ensure it reads as it should. Feedback is often invaluable.
What Else to Include in the Submission Package
If the novel contains numerous characters, it might be worth enclosing a brief rundown of characters within the novel with a brief description of each. This would help make the reading of the synopsis easier for the agent, and also come in handy if the full length novel is requested. A tagline, a one sentence summary of the novel could come in useful within the covering letter.
The Importance of the Novel Synopsis
The synopsis then, is a vital part of the submission package, and because it is limited in length, every word becomes more significant. The synopsis is often read by the publisher before the sample chapters, which makes the synopsis all the more important. Getting every word to perfection and telling an intriguing story in a compelling style is the key to getting the publisher to take notice.
Links on Preparing a Submission Package to Publishers
Books on Novel Writing
Submitting the novel to a literary agent
Writing a Synopsis to a novel
Hated modern cliches in novel writing