Synopsis explained

Margaret Fortune, author of Nova, tells us that the synopsis should entice an agent to read your book, so, even though most agents agree that a synopsis is a factual account of all the important points in your book starting with the first chapter and working through to the last, your synopsis still needs to be interesting and have a similar narrative tone to your stories.

Your synopsis should, from the start, reveal to the reader what genre the book is written in, and should centre on your main characters—your protagonists—and what drives them: their character, ambitions, weaknesses. The plot should be made clear in the synopsis and should ‘give away’ the story: if one of your main characters dies in the novel, the synopsis should say so, and should explain the reasons behind your decision and how this will add to the twists in the plot and the ultimate heightening of the reader’s interest and enjoyment of the story.

The aim of the synopsis is to keep the reader wanting more, to grab their interest and to retain it so that, having completed reading it, they will want to move on to the story, the first three chapters, and hopefully the entire manuscript, for that is the ultimate aim of any submission.

It’s no wonder that, being so important to an author’s submission, we look upon the synopsis with so much trepidation, for, ultimately, every part of the submission: pitch, query letter, synopsis, first chapters, need to entice an agent or publisher to want more.

Take heart, my fellow authors. This is a persevering game, and we are committed to playing it. Good luck with your submissions!


Author Alex George on writing

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