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6 Tips for Building a Synopsis

Every writer is familiar with the dreaded Synopsis. It’s difficult to condense sixty to eighty thousand words down to five hundred words or two pages. But a synopsis is necessary to sell a book to a publisher and to use for book sellers as an elevator pitch.

Here are 6 Tips for Writing Your Best Synopsis:

  1. Think about story structure. If you aren’t sure how you structured your book, you can find my recommendations for good books on story structure here. Now, write one sentence for your opening, one for the inciting incident, one that breaks into act two, one for your dark moment and one for your resolution. These are the topic sentences for each paragraph.

  2. Write one paragraph of five sentences for each of these topics giving further details, and you will have the basic synopsis.

  3. Synopses must be written in present tense. It doesn’t matter what tense you use for your book, a synopsis is expected to be written as if it’s happening now.

  4. Write it in third person regardless of what point of view your work is in.

  5. Add emotion to your story. Tell them why the dark moment is dark, what the stakes are, and how the protagonist feels during the resolution.

  6. You must always include what happens at the end of the book. This is not a teaser. The editor needs to know you can end a book well.

I know that it is difficult not to tell the entire story. That is what we do, after all, when we write a book. But, if you follow simple story structure, you will give the editor a good idea of what your book is about and that you understand structure enough to write a compelling read.

Need help? I’m offering a free workshop on Building the Synopsis October 20th, 7 pm CDT, 2020 sign up by RSVPing on my website: and subscribe to be notified of all of my blog posts and free workshops. Happy writing!

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