Notes on Writing Your Synopsis

By Mayra CuevasRecently I had the joy of writing the synopsis for my novel, as part of a critique submission for a writer’s conference.I wanted to share my notes on the process of writing a synopsis, with the hope that it will help you simplify the process.LengthThe average length of a synopsis should be 2-3 pages, or about 1400 words. Please note the length will depend on the submission requirements, so check first what the agent/editor is looking for.FormattingSpacing: Single-spaced with breaks between paragraphs, one-inch margins all around.Font: Times New Roman, 12-pointPage Numbers: upper right-hand cornerHeader: Your last name and the book title should appear in the upper left-hand corner. Ex. Marquez/Cien Años de SoledadPOV, Tense and ToneSynopsis is written using third-person and present tense - regardless of how your book is written.ContentHere is another example of why having an outline is very helpful: it can help you stay focused and showcase the book’s highlights. Too many details can distract, and may even divert your attention from the main theme of the story. The arch of the story must be clear to the reader and your voice must come across.I began my synopsis by drafting a condensed outline of the book:1) Because it’s fantasy-based fiction, I wrote a brief set-up that included a paragraph to establish my world.2) The main character sketch. Later, when introducing new characters I provided a one-sentence sketch for each.3) The moment when the external plot begins4) The moment when the internal struggle begins5) All main plot points - this accounts for about 60% of the synopsis6) The climax7) The resolution - you must reveal the entire plot in a synopsis, no teasers or cliffhangersA final thought, I wrote the synopsis as if I was writing a journalistic account of the story. I viewed it as a detached, fact-based version of the story. In a nutshell, just stick to the facts.What advice to you have for others writing their synopsis? Post your advice below.