Blog & Newsletter – 20.01.2023
Tips for Writing a Great Synopsis
If you are planning on sending off a fiction submission, most literary agencies will ask you to send them a synopsis. After all, they’ll want to know what happens after your first three chapters and most crucially, they’ll want to know how your novel ends. At the MM Agency, we request that a synopsis is no longer than a page. If you’re feeling unsure or you’d like to improve your skills, read on to learn some practical tips and tricks.
- We recommend always approaching a synopsis from the perspective of “my words have to fit into this space and I will have to cut sentences that I want to keep”. Remember that a synopsis should only contain the most important points and that an agent will always expect there to be more elements within your novel than those you’ve included in your synopsis.
- Avoid drastically reducing the font to make your synopsis fit. Some agencies will have specific fonts they require, but generally 11 or 12 point is safest.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have room to separate your plot into paragraphs to make your synopsis look more attractive. Agents know that writers will often need the entire space to include their full plot. If you want to add more visual variety to your synopsis, you could put your characters’ names in capitals or put locations in bold or italics.
- A synopsis should be plot-based, so we would suggest describing your characters’ personality traits only when they are essential to understand the narrative. Aside from an initial introduction of your protagonist/s, for instance, “Simone is an LA-based matchmaker, who dabbles in illegal activity,” we would suggest using one to three descriptive words combined with a plot point, for example, “Perpetually anxious, Barbara rejects Simone’s plan”.
- It’s fine not to include a title within the document.
- If your novel is of a reasonable length or has numerous sub-plots, you won’t be able to cover every plotline. One way to approach this is to initially write the synopsis for your main plot, assess how long it is (considering that you will be able to condense it), and then add the most important subplot/s if there is space.
- When you can’t remove any additional sentences to make your synopsis fit, you should consider whether any words within your sentences can be removed or condensed. For instance, “Barbara calls the police and tells them the location of her daughter,” could become “Barbara gives Simone’s location to the police,” or potentially even, “Barbara betrays Simone’s location”.
We hope this helps you to write your synopsis and remember, less is always more in this instance. Good luck!