SYNOPSIS–How to write a KILLER Synopsis


Today I finalized a KILLER synopsis for my crime novel, SAYONARA guaranteed to get attention from editors, agents or publishers. The synopsis is the most crucial part of my submission package and needs to be developed, sweated over and polished with the same attention as to my novel. The synopsis is the  sequential summary of my book and is my sales pitch,  to the publisher and/ or agent.

I’d like to share my kick-ass synopsis creating process with you.

>>> Step 1

Who is the synopsis for? If it’s for an agent or publisher, check the submission guidelines for requested length or inclusions. If it’s for marketing purposes, shoot for a double spaced 2-pager.

>>> Step 2

Study the blurbs on flap jackets and on the back of popular paperbacks. These read like a mini synopsis to the story with a sense of what makes the book unique and attention-grabbing.

>>> Step 3

First you must know your story intimately. Summarise each scene into main plot points and distill these scene summaries into motivations that move the story forward in a major way.

>>> Step 4

Start with the main character and his or her crisis. You must reveal the character’s emotions and motivations, explaining why a character does something. The synopsis begins with a hook and includes all of the major climaxes and the big climax at the end.

>>> Step 5

Write in the present tense, utilising the strongest nouns and verbs. Amp the language to the max creating an enthusiastic and enticing synopsis.

>>> Step 6

Add a one sentence conclusion that includes word count and what authors your readers might enjoy.

e.g. “SAYONARA is a crime manuscript approximately 76,000 words in length, which will appeal to readers of authors such as Jodi Picoult, Katherine Howell and Anita Shreve or readers who enjoy True Crime or crime stories based on personal stories.”


Today I emailed my first three chapters of SAYONARA to a Publisher, together with my KILLER kick-ass synopsis … Hope they love it.

Please wish me a mother lode of LUCK :))

NB This Blog was edited. KT.

Did you like this? Share it:

24 comments to SYNOPSIS–How to write a KILLER Synopsis

  • Kelly McDonald

    I always struggle with this part of the process. I will be ruthlessly copying your advice! Thanks so much for sharing Karen, and best of luck with the submission!

  • Thanks Kelly. I’ve researched how to develop the KILLER synopsis and I’m pleased with the one I sent to the publisher today. Thanks for the good luck wishes too :))

  • Thanks Tania, I didn’t rush this submission but took my time to develop my manuscript and synopsis to the highest standard possible :))

  • Thanks for the great points – checking and re-writing each time for each agent/publisher is so important – and hard work!

  • Sure is, Michelle. I turned this synopsis from a 2-pager to a 3-pager according to Publisher guidelines. It was harder than you think :)) Glad you liked the points Michelle.

  • Good advice Karen. Good luck with the submission.

  • Thanks Elaine, Glad you like the advice. I’m feeling very excited about this submission :))

  • Wishing you good luck, Karen – a mother lode.

    Thanks for the tips. Synopsis development on my near horizon, so all great food for thought.

    🙂 Chris

  • Hi Chris, I was determined to develop my synopsis to the very best it could be. It took time, research and advice. Good luck with finishing your manuscript and perfecting your synopsis too :))

  • Scott Chambers

    Well done! And good luck!! But with advice and a synopsis like that, I’m sure you won’t need it =)

  • Thanks Scott for your very kind words. Hope my synopsis tips will be helpful :))

  • Great points to follow, Karen. All the best with it. Hope it knocks them dead and results in a contract. Interesting combination in readers of authors you suggest it would appeal to, which should mean a wide croos section of readers.

  • Thanks Dale, Hope my synopsis pointers are helpful. Thanks too for all your positive words of encouragement :)) I’m thinking about that author list …I’m sure I could add a few others :))

  • Debbie Johansson

    Hope your synopsis does the job – fingers crossed. Best of luck! ;))

  • Thanks Debbie, so do I. I’ve poured all my resources and research into this one. This time my toes are crossed too. :))

  • Good luck, Karen! 🙂

  • Joanna Gaudry

    Great advice, Karen. And good luck!!

  • Thanks Carol for the good luck wishes. Now I’ll have to keep myself busy as I wait :))

  • Thanks Joanna, Hope you can use those synopsis tips one day for your novel. Luck, yes I need that too :))

  • You say: “The synopsis is my sales pitch, the jacket blurb for my novel”.
    I don’t agree and I am trying to be helpful here.
    A synopsis is not a sales pitch and is not a jacket blurb. It is an complete fairly unemotional outline of the story for the publisher or agent to read to learn what the book about.
    A lot of authors don’t like writing the synopsis because they have to reveal the ending, how it is achieved and ‘Who done it!’. But without reading a synopsis how will the publisher/agent know what story is that he is buying.
    Just a thought.

  • Hi Margaret,
    Did I really say that? I should have worded it differently. “My synopsis contains a short sales pitch, the jacket blurb of my book.” I always start my synopsis that way to give it an edge. I’ll go and change it now. Thanks :))
    What you said about a synopsis is 100% correct … its a summary for the publisher and /or agent. Thanks Margaret :))

  • I do agree that the synopsis should tell the highlights of the work, but also agree with Karen that the synopsis is a sales tool: it should include the elements you list and be written in your finest, most active present-tense voice.

    I hope you have been successful selling Syonara.

  • Thanks Louella, for adding your comment here on writing the synopsis. My crime faction novel, SAYONARA will be coming out in 2013. Please stay tuned! … Karen 🙂

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.