A synopsis may be your first and only chance to sway a literary agent or editor.  You’ve been able to beat the odds by completing an entire manuscript.  Don’t let the synopsis throw you; make it count.  Here are 5 things I learned about writing a novel synopsis:

1.  Use the same format you used for your manuscript; double-spaced, one-inch margins.  Start with a chapter by chapter outline then cut it down to 1200 words, then again to 750, again to 250; lastly to a blurb.  This will give you 3 different sizes to choose from when submitting.

2.  Your complete summary should be written in present tense, third person, focusing on major plot points sticking to major events; no sub-plots.  Just hit the highlights.  Include both story advancement and color.  It should not read like a mechanic’s manual.

3.  CAPITALIZE character names when you introduce them, mentioning only 3 main, while giving them a quick character sketch and making sure their core conflicts are clear.

4.  It’s important your plot has a true arc with a beginning, middle, and an end; and that the main character conflicts and resolutions are clear.

5.  A synopsis is a longer description of the entire story – not a blurb in a query letter.  So, yes – by all means reveal the ending.

Know something I left out?  Your expertise is appreciated.  Please comment.

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