How to write a synopsis

How to write a synopsis…

How to write an 8 paragraph Synopsis…!


  • Write your synopsis on 1 page with single spacing. However, if it does go onto two pages, go to 1.5 spacing.
  • At the top of your synopsis, include:
  • Your Name: Title of Book (use the words ‘working title’, it shows you are amenable to change): Word count: Genre:

Writing the synopsis

  • You only have to sum up the main plot. Sub plots are not necessary at this stage, unless they directly impact the main plot.
  • Write in the present tense.

What to avoid:

  • words such as, was, were, had, did
  • adjectives
  • repetition

This a telling document only, so…. What NOT to include

  • dialogue
  • quotes

What you should and MUST include:

  • your unique selling point. 
  • Key emotions. 
  • Key theme. 
  • The whole story, including how the novel ends

Questions you might ask yourself: 

  • Do you have a beginning, middle and an end?
  • Does the ending resolve the story? Has everything been tied up?

Agents or publishers tend to read the first page, before the letter and before the synopsis, so make you opening page/chapter powerful.

The eight paragraphs:

Paragraph one (act one, the beginning): 

What the character’s life is before the story starts. Whose story is it and who changes the most. What their internal need might be?

Paragraph two:

Takes us to the inciting incident. 

(On a film, it’s always at 11 mins. This goes back to the old days when films were on reels and the reel lasted 11 mins.)

Paragraph Three to five: (the Middle)

What obstacles are going to stand in the way of the journey? What zig zagging is going on? Send character in different directions and how the events are affecting the character.

Paragraph Six:

Rug pulling moment. Lowest point for our character. The point where we think the character might not make it, might not achieve her dream or may not get the love of her life.

Paragraph Seven: (the end)

All guns blazing, how does he/she escape, achieve or find what he/she is looking for.

Paragraph Eight: 

 Focus on how the characters have changed. Resolve and tell the ending.