Lesson No. 2: Synopsis with Danielle Lanzet


After you’ve completed your book, and you’re preparing to submit, you’re going to want a polished synopsis handy!



Narrative Arc. A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and the end. A synopsis summarizes what happens and ensures that character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. Also, this provides an agent with a reliable survey of your writing. 

•Active Voice. Use active voice and third person. 

Point of View. Stand out here — consider whether your plot is cliche or predictable.

Story Advancement. A synopsis should include the characters’ feelings and sensibilities, which should help advance your plot and story.

•Write Clearly. Focus on clarity in your writing and avoid wordiness. Remember, less is more.


There is no universal standard for the length of a book or novel synopsis, however, stick with one to two pages, single-spaced. 

And re general formatting: start with a strong paragraph identifying your protagonist, problem or  conflict, and setting; the next paragraph should convey any major plot turns or conflicts necessary and any characters that should be mentioned in order for your book summary to make sense; use the last paragraph to indicate resolutions of major conflicts.


What to avoid:

•Mentioning too many characters or events.

•Including too much detail about specific character and/or plot developments. Don’t tell the entire story. You want to write a book summary with enough detail about the plot to intrigue the agent.

•Unnecessary detail, description, or explanation. Be terse.

•Editorializing your novel or book. Consider that when you are trying to explain something confusing, not only will your reader be confused, but a potential agent will be too.

•Writing flap copy instead of a synopsis. Don’t write a hook to intrigue a reader to buy your book or an agent to request a manuscript. Focus on summarizing.

Ruh Roh Synopsis 



First, review and critique this synopsis considering what I said above and whether it’s successful or not and why: Synopsis Test

Next, you guessed it — write you own! 

 And, finally, we’ll go over your assessments of the synopsis as a group the following week!


Submit Your Manuscript

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