C.M. Guido Presents: Writing a Synopsis

A guide to writing a synopsis and shining during this interview with a publisher. Includes tips and insights on how to get you published!

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So, asking to write a synopsis of your novel is akin to talking about yourself in an interview. You freeze, you sputter, because how do we talk about ourselves? Sell ourselves in order to get the job?

Writing a synopsis runs in a very similar fashion. We’re so close to our work, we know the ins and outs, the fine print, the minute details. I mean, we’re talking likely down to the split ends of our female leads…too much? Okay, too much.

The point is, a synopsis is like a job interview with your publisher.

However, if we talk about our favorite book? I can run you through The Night Circus, or Nefertiti like it’s no one’s business from start to finish. (Actually, it might be a good practice idea to use your favorite novel).

With a synopsis, you’re taking your entire book and condensing it to the important details, explaining characters and their development throughout. And yes, you’re going to give away the ending. No spoiler alerts needed; spoilers are accepted here. When you’re pitching your book to a publisher, it’s okay to give away the juicy goods, the things that are going to entice them.

So, you’re going to want to cover these things:

Characters: Your main characters, and in their first mention in the synopsis, they should be CAPITALIZED or bolded.

The major events—the juicy bits, the protein.

Goals—what is your character after? Why are they on this quest?

Motivation—what drives them to go for the goal?

Conflict—because nothing worth having comes easy. What challenges do they have to overcome?

Resolution—do they have a happy ending? Do they fail? What happens?

Length: 500-1000 words. Give your publisher substance, but don’t prattle, no need to make the document colorful.

Style: Your style. The synopsis should match your writing style, your tone. Your publisher should gain a sense of who you are as a writer through this snippet.

Spacing: Double space for those after one page.

Font/alignment/margins/indent: 12 pt. Times New Roman, left alignment, one-inch margin, 1/2 inch indent.

P.O.V.: 3rd Person – even if your story isn’t in the 3rd person.

Tense: Present tense.

Flow: Your synopsis should have flow; it should read like a story in its own right. A little drier? That’s okay.

It seems like a task, I know. And it may take you a few tries before you get it right—choosing the most important things in the book, mapping out your characters on their journey. It might be worth jotting everything down separately before bringing it together to flesh out. Sometimes it helps.

Most importantly, try not to stress. Stressing out is the worst thing you can do, try to relax and have fun with it. This is your story, your masterpiece coming to life! Publishers can tell when the author is passionate about their work, we want to see the same from you!

1 comments on “C.M. Guido Presents: Writing a Synopsis”

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