When talking to writers about writing a synopsis one of the first question I am usually asked, is, ‘how long should it be?’ The answer to this is, how long is your novel? The important thing to remember is it should be short and succinct. Some writers manage this in less than 10 pages, others ramble. Don’t ramble!
What you should remember, is:
• A badly written synopsis is like telegraphing to a prospective editor, agent, or publisher that you have no idea how to write. It needs to be well-written and positive.
• Your synopsis should highlight the salient points of the story arc, character’s growth, and the scenes that move the story forward.
• When I say salient points, I mean things like character ‘conflict,’ ‘challenges,’ and ‘resolution.’ How did they get into that mess to begin with, how do they solve their problems, meet their challenges, and over come their obstacles.
• Do not give a blow-by-blow dry account of each chapter. Rather your synopsis should read like you are retelling the story, orally, for a listening audience. Make it zing!
• When writing genre, make sure you convey to the editor/agent you know your stuff, but don’t bore them senseless.
• Remember to show not tell. It’s the same principal for writing your synopsis as it is for writing your novel.
• Also, your voice should be as evident in your synopsis as it is in your novel.
It almost goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway: practice makes perfect. They more practice you have at writing down a synopsis, the better you’ll get at it. That said, however, writing a synopsis (for some) is like catching lightning in a bottle.