Synopsis Writing


This is harder than writing the novel!

Following a brilliant meeting, with some great writing being read out – as always! – I got to thinking about something we discussed last night, which is so important to every writer, yet so hated.


I think the conclusion we all reached was that none of us really know what a Synopsis should look like.  It would be helpful if we could at least see one or two ourselves, just to get the gist of what’s expected.  So I went hunting.  Firstly, I found some info on the process of writing synopses.  Below is a list of articles which all cover this subject.  Some authors have their own approach, but most seem to agree:

  • The opening paragraph should deal with background, particularly if your novel is set in an unusual place and time.
  • Write in third person, present tense, regardless of the novel’s POV.  The writing should be lively and clear.  Keep sentences short and punchy.
  • Introduce each character by CAPITALISING the first instance of their name, so it stands out, and don’t introduce more than 5 or 6 characters, even if there are more than this in your novel.
  • Don’t give a blow-by-blow account from start to finish.  Pick out the main changes/transitions, find the character arc, find the theme.  Weave these into the writing.
  • Synopsis length has become shorter in recent years.  Two double-spaced A4 pages maximum.

Have a look at the articles below  and, by all means, add more suggestions in the comments (or send in the link) if you find any other pages which might also be helpful.

Articles on Writing a Synopsis

Sample Synopses

I also found some examples of actual synopses, which could be useful, especially if you know the novel/film they are synopsising (is that a word?).  The Writer’s Digest link, in particular, has a whole list of well-known film synopses.

Good luck with the synopsing folks (more made-up words courtesy of moi!).  See you on the bookshelves 😉


3 thoughts on “Synopsis Writing

  1. Nice one. Some links there that I haven’t come across – the Marissa Meyer one, for instance. I’ve perused Chuck Sambuchino (writers digest link) before – he’s awesome because he uses films and creates a synopsis of them, so you can see what he’s doing. Seeing a synopsis for a book you haven’t read is helpful to a degree, but it’s better if you know the story and what’s been left out.

    A good resource there.


  2. Great article Martine, as an extra thought I can recommend the following books, I have read both of them. They are available from Amazon and are written by Nicola Morgan the Crabbit Old Bat of the renowned blog and

    ‘Write To Be Published’ is available in both Kindle and paperback editions.
    ‘Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide’ is available as a digital book only and is a very reasonable £2.99

    Good luck all!


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