It’s probably the single most despised document you might be asked to prepare. The synopsis is sometimes required because an agent or publisher wants to see, from beginning to end, what happens in your story. Thus, the synopsis must convey a book’s entire narrative arc. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending.


I read a vast amount of examples of synopses and there are major points to consider before submitting a query to a publishing firm or agent.


These are:

  • A Synopsis is written with just the details of the plot. That will end up reading like a very mechanical account of your story, and won’t offer any depth or texture; it will read like a story without any emotion.
  • Only introduce the main characters and when you first mention the main character/s put their name in caps e.g General JOHN SMITH.
  • Don’t spend valuable space in the synopsis explaining the themes the story may address.
  • Identify your protagonist, the protagonist’s conflict, and the setting by the end of the first paragraph.
  • Avoid character backstory. A phrase or two is plenty to indicate a character’s background; you should only reference it when it effects how events unfold. For instance, PETER PARKER was bitten by a genetically modified spider that gave him supernatural powers imitating traits of the spider.
  • Avoid including dialogue.
  • Don’t ask rhetorical or unanswered questions. For your query to be accepted, they need to see your ability to conclude a story.
  • While your synopsis will reflect your ability to write, it’s not the place to get pretty with your prose.
  • Skim through each chapter and noting down the important events
  • Read through what you’ve written and check that every event in the story naturally leads into the next.
  • Read through your summaries with a focus on character and plot arcs