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How To Write a Synopsis For Your Novel

How To Write a Synopsis For Your Novel, Guest post by Matthew S. Cox

How To Write a Synopsis For Your Novel

Guest post by Matthew S. Cox


Writing a synopsis is the bane of almost every author, second only to the dreaded query letter (or jacket description). Some people confuse a synopsis with the description of the book that goes on the back, but they’re not the same thing.

How To Write a Synopsis For Your Novel, Guest post by Matthew S. Cox
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A ‘synopsis’ is a spoilerific “Cliff’s notes” version of the story that is sent to agents/publishers considering signing the book. Its purpose is to allow someone to get a gist of the story without having to throw many hours of reading at it. There are three types of synopses: the long synopsis, the short synopsis, and a ‘chapter synopsis.’

For me, the best way to write the synopsis is to start with the short form (which is 1-2 pages at most). Identify the primary story arc of the novel, and write down one sentence that represents the major event points within that story. Novels are often rife with side plots, but those can be omitted from the short synopsis. Start with a quick description of who the main character is and where they are, as well as the approximate setting/time period. Then, add a line about every major event that happens throughout the whole book, straight to the end. For a synopsis, don’t try to be evasive or cute – spill the spoilers. That’s the point of a synopsis. Also, that whole ‘show don’t tell’ thing doesn’t apply here. Synopses are meant to be brief and to the point. All telling.

For a long form synopsis (which is reasonably close to a chapter synopsis for me), include all the side arcs and subplots going on, and also add details explaining the character’s motivations or why certain events happen. (e.g. Bob’s drug dealer betraying him finally makes him realize that not everyone saying they’re a friend really is). A long-form synopsis can go up to around eight-ish pages.

Chapter synopses are the easiest for me, since I am an outliner, and I basically already have a chapter synopsis that I create in the process of outlining. For this type of a synopsis, boil down the events of each chapter in the book down to a few sentences so you have a paragraph-per-chapter document.

How To Write a Synopsis For Your Novel, Guest post by Matthew S. Cox
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.


Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- adlands="" after="" also="" and="" awards:="" cats.="" deliberate="" div="" excerpt="" fiction="" fond="" future.="" happens="" he="" honorable="" intellectual="" is="" it.="" life="" mention="" nature="" nbsp="" of="" prophet="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what="" writers="">

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