A synopsis is a one–two page version of your manuscript. Sometimes the agent or editor will ask for something longer. Give them exactly what they want. I was asked to provide a one-page synopsis of my novel and that is the example I have to give you.

A synopsis should cover the main events and plot twists as they happen. It should also introduce the main characters and give the ending. It is very important to include the ending! This is not the time to be mysterious. An agent or editor wants to see that you can plot out a good story from beginning to end. They don’t have time to request a manuscript that they aren’t convinces could be a good story. If you don’t tell them the end up front, it’s possible they won’t ask to see it.

I like to write a synopsis using techniques I learned from Randy Ingermanson. Check out his website for great writing information.

Basically, I write one sentence for each of the following things to create my one-paragraph blurb. I use this blurb in my query and cover letters.

1.      The introduction, where the story starts
2.      The hook at the end of Act One.
3.      The hook in the middle of the book.
4.      The hook at the end of Act Two.
5.      The climax and conclusion

Here is my five-sentence paragraph for The New Recruit:

(1) A teenage boy is forced to train in a Christian spy organization that he wants nothing to do with. (2) When he learns that his parents were also spies and that his dad betrayed his mom, he throws himself into being the best agent he can be. (3) He travels to Moscow on a training mission and discovers a connection between a Russian boy and a suspicious woman. (4) He witnesses the Russian boy sell information to the woman, betraying the local field office. (5) When our hero learns that the woman plans a final attempt to infiltrate the field office server, his only way to stop her forces his to draw near to the God who he feels abandoned him years ago.

Then, to write my synopsis, I take these five sentences and stretched each into a separate paragraph, adding more detail. This gives me a rough outline of my synopsis. I only need to add a bit more to make it flow nicely. I try to keep out most of the side characters and side plots so that I don’t confuse the reader. I also learned at a writer’s conference, that capitalizing the first time you use a character’s name is a nice touch. I also include the ending. This synopsis got a request for a full manuscript, so I guess it did its job.

Here is half of my one-page synopsis for The New Recruit. I can no longer post the full synopsis since this novel is being considered by a publisher!

When two strangers appear on his front porch, SPENCER GARMOND is certain that GRANDMA ALICE GARMOND is sending him to military school for getting into too many fights. The men are Christian spies, however, who have come to recruit Spencer into their organization. He wants nothing to do with them, but Grandma Alice insists he accept his call to be a spy or enjoy life at military school.

Spencer reluctantly begins training. He makes a friend and an enemy among the other recruits, and struggles to fit in. An uncle he never knew tells his that his family has been spies for generations, including his parents. His dad sold out, and his treachery led to the death of Spencer’s mother. Spencer vows to avenge his mother and works toward being the best agent ever.

He arrives in Moscow on a training mission. On a tour of the local field office, Spencer recognizes the face of a foreign woman on an assignment dossier. She has haunted his dreams for years. He prints out the paper on the woman named ANYA VSEVELODA, desperate to know who she is and why he dreamed about her.

Spencer befriends PASHA IVANOVICH, a homeless Russian boy, and notices Pasha’s labyrinth tattoo. When Spencer sees Anya in a subway station, he follows her and discovers she has the same tattoo as Pasha.

Spencer’s investigation leads him to a local Internet cafe where he learns about a cult called Bratva that uses the tattoo symbol for their logo. He visits Bratva headquarters to find out more and is nearly captured.

Synopsis continues on for another half a page and gives the full ending.

2 Responses to “THE SYNOPSIS”

  1. Pam Halter says:

    Synopsis writing is tough. Thanks for breaking it down. My daughter says The New Recruit sounds like a Christian Alex Rider. She has the whole series and loved it. Looking forward to reading it!


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