May 31, 2022
There are times you may have to write a synopsis of your book. This can be challenging, but your hard work will pay off with a book synopsis you can use to present your book to agents or marketing experts. In this guide, we show you why you need one and how to write one.
A synopsis is a brief but comprehensive summary of a book. In a fiction synopsis, it must include the plot, main characters, setting, and genre. A book summary for a nonfiction title must present the main points of the book, supporting evidence, and the author’s viewpoint and conclusion.
In some ways, a synopsis is like a preview for a movie or TV show. A well-done one makes the viewer want to watch the movie. On the other hand, a synopsis should not leave the reader wondering what happens. You want to engage the reader while explaining how your story ends.
There are varying views about what the length should be. While some people recommend keeping it to 500 words, others recommend limiting it to three typed, double-spaced pages, or two single-spaced pages. That’s not a lot of room to condense your book into, but you’ll lose the reader’s interest if it’s too long.
No. A precis is a summary of an article or book that uses a strict, four-section format. It is mostly used in scholarly publishing. It’s also used in some school programs as a way of making sure students understand their assigned texts.
An enjoyable book synopsis hooks the reader in from the first sentence. The opening sentence should describe the main character’s primary location or situation. It should include the main event, also known as the inciting incident, and how that propels the plot. Include any details about other relevant characters and events, and be sure to include the crisis, resolution, and ending.
You don’t have a lot of pages to work with, so avoid lengthy descriptions or abstract themes. Let the plot speak for you as you describe how it develops and what happens to the characters.
For a good synopsis:
It’s not easy to condense a long, plot-filled book into a brief book summary. It may seem especially overwhelming after you’ve spent a lot of time writing your book. You finally finished, you reached the end, but now you must go back and go over the whole thing again.
We know, it’s not easy, but drafting a book synopsis is a skill that you can learn. You may need several attempts, but you will get there. Our guide will take you through the process step by step.
On his writing blog, published author Graeme Shimmin offers his synopsis of the movie Casino Royale. Here’s how an award-winning author opens the summary:
“Casino Royale opens with James Bond gambling at the Royal-Les-Eaux casino in France. Amongst the gamblers is Le Chiffre, who is a Soviet agent.
The story then flashes back to a briefing by M, the head of the British Secret Service. Le Chiffre controls a trade union for the Soviets but has stolen union money and invested it disastrously. Now, his financial position is desperate, and his only hope is to stake all his remaining capital on a big win at the casino. M plans to stop this and bankrupt Le Chiffre, destroying Soviet influence in the trade union.
Bond is M’s chosen man to execute this plan, as he is one of the service’s best gamblers.
Vesper Lynd is sent from headquarters to improve Bond’s cover. A French agent, Rene Mathis, and Felix Leiter of the CIA are also in position. Mathis warns Bond that the Soviets have blown his cover and he can expect resistance.”
That’s the opening, and most readers are hooked at this point.
Before you write the book synopsis, write a brief, two- or three-word description of each character. You’ll use this to write your synopsis. For instance, describe your main character as “an 11-year-old girl living in London,” and a secondary character as “kindly bakery owner Claire.” This is all you need for the synopsis. Don’t get into unnecessary details about the characters.
Every story has plot points. The reader of a book summary doesn’t want to keep guessing what happens. They want to see the full plot, so be sure to include each of these five key points.
Don’t reveal the ending until the last page. Ideally, your reader will be eagerly anticipating getting to the ending.
While you don’t want to get into details about the background or personality of each character, you do want to show why they take certain actions. For instance, you could say, “Jim goes to Frank’s house to confront Frank about the rumor he heard,” or write, “Linda decides to get revenge on Ted by making him lose his job.” Don’t include dialogue or background information. Just tell the reader what the character does and why.
A synopsis is not a jacket blurb. It’s not marketing copy. It’s a condensed version of a book you want to sell. Keep the language plain and straightforward. Don’t clutter it up with descriptions, flowery language, or heavy emotional passages. Those should be in the longer version, which is your book. Write your book summary in the present tense.
How do you know if your synopsis is attention-getting enough? One effective way to tell is to let someone read it. Give your book synopsis to a trusted friend or family member. Ask them if the book sounds like something they’d like to read. Getting an objective view of your own work is almost impossible, so ask a friendly outsider to offer theirs.
Your synopsis must be professional and well-written. Read your final version carefully. Be sure to correct any misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and errors of continuity. If you introduced a conflict, show that it was resolved. If the plot had one or more subplots, make sure you show how they ended.
We hope you found this guide useful. A good book summary tells your story in clear, uncluttered language. It entices the reader to want more in the form of a full-length book. Writing a good one is worth some time and effort, so get started today. At Publishing Xpress, we specialize in helping writers put their best foot forward. If you’re a self-published author looking for great rates on book printing, use our pricing calculator.
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