Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

Megan is working hard on her synopsis.

If you're planning to send your book to agents or editors, you need a synopsis. You've heard how evil they are, and how hard it is to write them. I'm here to tell you - it's not that bad!

After you've written and revised your novel a half dozen times, and tweaked your query for ages, I know that you can write a short summary of your book.

I'm definitely no expert, but I recently wrote my own synopsis. Here are my tips:

1) Don't stress too much over it! It's more important to have a great book than a great synopsis.

2) Focus on the main plot, and cut out everything else. You have to be ruthless, and it will feel a lot like killing your darlings. But you'll get over it, and find a way for the plot to make sense without all those details.

3) Have someone read your synopsis who has NOT read your book. They can tell you if anything is confusing, what you can cut, and what you should expand on. Then revise it, and have them read it again.

Here are some of the resources I used when writing my synopsis:

Synop-what? by Kathleen Ortiz of Nancy Coffey Literary

Tips on the Evil Synopsis by Sarah Goldberg, assistant at Fine Print Literary

The Sum of the Parts: Writing a Synopsis by author Janice Hardy

WriteOnCon: How to Write a Synopsis by author Jodi Meadows

Have you written a synopsis? Do you have any other tips? Are you dreading it?


  1. So funny! I just posted a whiny post about how I really dislike writing the synopsis, but I also really want to start the query process. Mine has a picture of my dog too! Except, I don't have her working on my synopsis for me. In the pic she's lounging in the shade. But, getting her input is a good idea! :)

  2. I'm dreading this. :-\

    But you did a great job with yours!

  3. This post is really funny, and encouraging! If you just wrote a synopsis does this mean you're in the querying phase? If so, GOOD LUCK!!!!! (also Congratulations!! I've been revising my novel for over a year and I wish I could just get on with submissions...not ready yet, truly, not ready.)

  4. I can do the query and the pitch and the revisions and even the chapter by chapter but cutting it down to the synopsis is really hard. I love your idea to have someone read it who hasn't read the book.

  5. No kidding on the focus on the main plot!!! I got major dings on my first synopsis attempt for trying to cram too much of the plot in :)

  6. I recently wrote one for my paranormal YA. It was five pages. Ack! Then I cut it to two.

    It can be done. You have some great tips and those links are good, too.

    One thing I learned, is that you can pepper your synopsis with a passage of dialogue, or a short paragraph from the book. This interrupts the blow-by-blow description and also shows off your writing skills

  7. I fear that if I think about my synopsis too much I'll never finish the book. But I'm bookmarking this post for when I'm ready!

  8. Ugh, oh thank you thank you. I'm doing mine now too. Haaaate it. Why didn't I do this as I went along? Arghhh.

  9. I'm already dreading writing mine.But i guess its all part of a writer's job description.:
    Btw, Come drop by my blog to claim your AWARD!


  10. I know that if I can write the synopsis, then the story might be in okay, at least in structure. The synopsis is a good test for me.

  11. I actually like synopses. ::hides::

    Thanks for your comment. Seriously dude! It's just common sense - why would you comment on your own blog and think people will go back to it?