For many writers the synopsis is the hardest, and most dreaded part of the writing process. How do you explain your masterpiece in 2 pages?! It is a daunting task, and like anything else, takes practice and several drafts. But it is another querying necessity, so you will need to brave the unknown and dive in.
The synopsis is a brief summary of your story, usually 2 pages. It includes the characters, is a complete progression through the story, and includes any plot twists, a clear description of the GMCs and the ending.
Consider the synopsis like a short walk through your story. From beginning to end, with all the important details. A tip: if you are a plotter, and have a chapter by chapter outline, use this for your synopsis. It will help you work through the story, important details only.
When starting your synopsis, it is good form to provide a quick, one sentence setting outline for the reader. For example: Afterlife is a modern day new adult romance that takes place in New York City. This allows agents to see, immediately, the basics of the story.
In the first paragraph, you would expand on this information. Set up the setting, premise and other world building. It is this paragraph that draws the reader into the world, so include everything that is vital, without too much back story or bogging down. If someone hasnt read your story, what do they NEED to know?
Remember your GMCs. Agents will need to know what your MC is fighting for, why, and what is stopping them, so be sure to include them. Especially the conflict, which is the catalyst for the story in most cases. What issues and road blocks will the MC encounter? What are the stakes? Explain them.
Include the characters growth arc. Readers want to see how your character changes through the story, their growth, so be sure to make it clear through the synopsis. Show how they react to certain things, and bring them to life even though it is a summary and not the story itself.
Plot development is just as important as character arcs, so be sure this is included as well. It is a play by play of what happens. A synopsis is the one place where you are allow to TELL, and SHOW isn't as forcefully adhered to. Include as many details in each aspect as you can without overloading and confusing the reader (especially with new worlds like fantasy and sci fi). Include the most important aspects to help the reader understand the book as a whole.
The biggest part? Include the ending! The synopsis is the commercial before the feature film, right? But in this case, we want you to spoil the ending for us. How are things resolved by the end? Where does the MC end up? How have things changed? Give us everything!
In summary, a synopsis should include:
- character growth
Include these elements, on 1-2 pages (these guidelines vary by agent) and you've got yourself a synopsis!