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Writing a Synopsis: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Even the best writers struggle when it comes to writing a synopsis. Condensing a 100,000-word novel into about 500 words is not an easy task. A synopsis is an overview of your novel that gives an agent or publisher a sense of its story and setting. It needs to give them a reason to read the full novel and convince them that you have a beginning, middle, and an end, that it is an engaging story, and most importantly, one that is commercially viable. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos with tips and guidelines to consider when writing your synopsis.

  1. https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis/

Reedsy shares 4 steps to writing an incredible synopsis. It tells you that your synopsis should achieve two things: it should convey the contents of your book and secondly, it should be intriguing. It must include a complete narrative arc, your voice and unique elements of your story, and the ending or resolution. The article tells you to get the basics down first, highlight what’s unique, edit for clarity and excess, and make sure it flows.

  1. https://jerichowriters.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis-with-an-example/

This article covers the format of a great synopsis and recommends the ingredients required including the length, language, presentation, and character names. It breaks the synopsis down into status quo, inciting incident, rising action/ developments, crisis, and resolution. After you have done this, you must layer in information about who your characters are and how the story impacts them. Examples are given to highlight the points made.

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis-step-by-step-guide#quiz-0

Masterclass tells us that there are 3 essential parts of a novel synopsis and gives 5 tips to write one including writing it in the 3rd person, keeping it short and writing in the present tense, and making sure you reveal the ending. Providing 3 easy steps with exercises to do in each, this article is very helpful.

  1. https://www.janefriedman.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis/

In a synopsis, the agent or publisher wants to see your story’s narrative arc. It isn’t a punchy piece that builds excitement but an industry document that helps an agent quickly assess your story’s appeal. This article discusses what a synopsis must accomplish and common synopsis pitfalls.

  1. https://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/how-to-write-a-synopsis-for-your-novel/

Curtis Brown shares tips on writing a one-page synopsis including stating what genre you are writing in, covering your novel in broad strokes, and not including too many characters’ names. The article says that the best synopsis conveys the tone of the novel as well as the plot.

  1. https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk/media/press-publicity/how-to-write-a-synopsis/

This article breaks the synopsis down into segments for you to try and explains each one: 3-line summary, 250-word challenge, and how to style it out.

  1. https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/write-killer-synopsis/

Exactly what a synopsis should achieve is outlined in this article and a step-by-step approach to crafting one is provided. It also warns you where things might go wrong. By taking things one step at a time, you’ll find your synopsis a whole lot easier. The Writer’s Edit shares 6 steps to follow and includes a link to read an extensive list of movie synopses.


  1. https://www.scribendi.com/academy/articles/podcasts_synopsis.en.html

Your synopsis is the lynchpin of your query package. But don’t be overwhelmed, this podcast from Scribendi outlines how to write a synopsis.

  1. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yNGZiMGRhMC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw/episode/NzQ2MjhiMjQtNDkwNi00YzE5LWIwZTMtMTI1OWRlMGVlMTRm?hl=en-IE&ved=2ahUKEwi5jqeb6sv3AhUWR_EDHWosD7sQjrkEegQIAxAR&ep=6

In this podcast from The Creative Writer, Senja shares a format that she uses that you can alter to fit with the mood and theme of your novel.


A senior editor from Harper Collins talks about writing your synopsis, including some do’s and don’t’s.

Kat Clay shares some top tips on how to write a compelling synopsis and get it down to just one or two pages.

Writing your synopsis takes practice and lots of honing. Take your time to get it right before sending it out into the world. I hope this week’s column has been helpful to you. As always please get in touch if there are any topics you want me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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