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.

Firstly though, if you are an aspiring writer, you might also have questions about how to compose a literary agent query letter. To learn more about impressing a literary agent, click here.

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.