Friday, October 9, 2015

Quick Tips for Writing a Synopsis

by Vonda Skelton @VondaSkelton

You've just completed the Great American Novel. You've done everything you've been told to do. You've created compelling characters and plopped them right smack in the middle of emotional/physical conflict. You've engaged the reader with your perfectly executed plot and subplots. You've edited and proofed and allowed your baby to be critiqued by your writer's group.

Now it's time to share the pictures and see if anyone wants to hold her. So you register for a writer's conference where editors, agents, critiquers, and contest judges may ask for a synopsis.

A what?

Although you'll find varying guidelines depending on the organization, here's a quick overview of what most people look for in a synopsis:Description:
  • The synopsis is a summary of the plot of your book that gives the reader a chance to see if it warrants a closer look.
  • It's often limited to 1-3 pages, but in some cases, the page limit is much higher. Be sure to follow the guidelines of the organization you're submitting to.
  • It's usually single-spaced with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • If you print it, be sure it's in black ink, on white paper, using a standard font (Times New Roman is most often used).
  • It is written in present tense, third person.
  • The synopsis must tell the ending of the story, even if the book is a mystery, thriller, or suspense novel. This is not the time to leave the editor/agent/judge/critiquer hanging and hope he or she will beg you to tell the ending. I've actually read a synopsis where the writer said something like, "I can't give away the ending because it's so unusual, but I'll just tell you, it's a real twist!" Hmmm. Not a good idea.
  • Of course, you can't cover all the points of the book, but you'll want to include the major plots points that move the story along to a satisfactory ending.
  • Give enough detail that the reader becomes engaged, but with a limit of 1-3 pages, you'll have to carefully decide what earns a place in the synopsis.

So, there you have it—a quick overview of the synopsis. Have you found other specifics that make for a quality synopsis? If so, join in the conversation and share it here!

Quick Tips for #Writing a Synopsis - via author @VondaSkelton on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Writing a synopsis doesn't have to be difficult - quick tips from @VondaSkelton on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Vonda Skelton is a speaker and the author of four books: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the 3-book Bitsy Burroughs mysteries for children 8-12 yo. She’s the founder and co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, offering speakers’ training and community for Christian women called to ministry. Vonda is a frequent instructor at writer’s conferences and keynotes at business, women’s, and associational events. You can find out more about Vonda, as well as writing opportunities and instruction at her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den at


  1. Vonda, Your information is always so helpful. Thank you. I am praying about writing a fiction suspense book or novella. I will think more about it after I write my first book (non-fiction). God has blessed me with great friends who know the profession. I don't think I would have the courage to write if it were not for all the encouragement you, Edie, and others give me.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Cherrilynn. I'm glad it was helpful to you. And yes, Edie and I love helping writers! Can't wait to see what God has in store for you!

  2. Good job, Vonda! I've shared it and pinned it. Hugs,
    Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

    1. Thank YOU, Elva! Been hearing great things about your writer's group. Good job!

  3. Great information, Vonda. Also, if anyone needs a good book on writing a synopsis, author Elizabeth Sinclair has one called "The Dreaded Synopsis." It's really wonderful to follow.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion, KJ. I've not read the book, but yes, "dreaded" is a perfect word choice when most of us think of writing a synopsis. Thank you!