How to Write a Compelling Synopsis: Tips for Writing a Synopsis

What Is a Synopsys?

In simple words, a synopsis is a short retelling or summary of an article, a book, or its part. To prepare a good synopsis, the writer has to read the required piece of writing, determine the most crucial ideas, and develop a logical and concise summary. There is no need to mention each and every detail. The assignment is rather subjective since the writer chooses the points to be discussed according to their own understanding. Therefore, a synopsis is subjected to some bias. Below, you will find valuable tips for writing a synopsis of high quality.

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How to Write a Good Synopsis

A quality synopsis

  • Determines the main points of the text;
  • Is written in a peculiar style without trying to imitate the style of the original piece;
  • Provides enough details to help the reader understand the plot or the main message of the author;
  • Is evidence-based and gives sufficient ground for reflection and further research;
  • Is reasonably objective and impartial.

4 Tips for Writing a Synopsis

To write a good synopsis, you should:

  • Include a Plot Thread. A synopsis strives to explain the problem or retell the plot in reasonable detail. The writing should be consistent and should make sense. In other words, you are supposed to summarize what happens in the story from the beginning up to the end.
  • Use Present Tense and Active Voice. In writing a book synopsis, always use active voice, present tense and third person.
  • Describe Emotions. To advance the plot, describe the emotions and feelings of the characters (if applicable).
  • Be Brief but Clear. Remember, brevity is the sister of talent. In your synopsis, focus on the main points and avoid wordiness and empty talks.

Never Do This in Your Synopsis

A synopsis assignment has a rather loose structure and no universally-accepted standards. Nevertheless, in most cases, it is about one-page long, single-spaced.

In addition, there are some things you should avoid when writing a synopsis:

  • Being too specific and including too many details (events, characters, etc.).
  • Trying to describe every slight plot twist. The task is not to rewrite the whole story. Instead, you are supposed to prepare a consistent summary to intrigue your readers.
  • Including unimportant explanations and descriptions. Ensure that each and every word in your synopsis has its role to play.
  • Making additional twists in the plot. Try to follow a chronological order of events not to confuse your readers.
  • Writing a review or advertising a book. First, your task is not to make readers purchase a book. Second, you do not need to analyze the piece. Summarizing is the core of this assignment.

The Synopsis Writing Format

Begin your synopsis with a paragraph, in which you determine the protagonist, identify the problem, and describe settings. In the next paragraphs, focus on the main plot turns; introduce characters that a reader is supposed to know to understand the story. In the last paragraph, describe how the main problems were resolved and how the story ended. In such a manner, you can logically summarize and retell even the most complex and twisted storylines.

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How to Write a Synopsis: 4 Easy Steps


Step 1. Read the Story

The first task is writing a synopsis outline. To prepare it, you should read the story and make some notes. Don’t be too picky; try to focus on general themes and ideas without going into much detail. You do not need to cover every single event or idea in your synopsis. Those short notes will serve as the skeleton of your assignment.


Step 2. Crafting the Synopsis

You might begin your synopsis with a sentence identifying the main idea of the discussed piece. Include the name of the author and the title of the book in the first paragraph. Proceed to the main themes of the story. Follow the structure of the original piece. Since a synopsis is a brief summary, focus on essentials.


Step 3. Making the Pieces Fit Together

Most probably, the first copy of your skeleton will be excessively long. Cut it! Eliminate unreasonable details and wordiness. Make sentences shorter. Cut even more! Or try an alternative approach: Summarize the whole book in one sentence. What sentence will you write? Now, do you want to add some information? Add two sentences. Anything else? Add the other two. And so on until you reach the limit. In such a manner, you will gradually proceed from the most important to less important issues and will not omit anything.

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Step 4. Fixing Grammar, Punctuation, and Style

Once you have edited and revised your paper, you should check and fix any spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes and typos. You can do it on your own, ask a friend for a fresh eye, use grammar software, or refer to dictionaries.

Now, a perfect synopsis is ready and you can post it or submit it.

Check the synopsis sample below to acquire a better understanding of what you are supposed to do.

The Sample

Below, you can find a synopsis of a 600-page novel.

All Alone in the Wild World

The Valley of the Horses is the second book of Jean Auel’s trilogy, in which the author describes the life of the early civilization that dwelled north of the Black Sea. The whole trilogy is based on the results of archaeological research that provided new insight into the evolution of the human species. It is a story of a young girl Ayla, the daughter of the Others, who was raised by the Tribe of the Cave Bear. She is cast out of the Clan when she fails to obey customs that she cannot comprehend and thus does not accept. She goes to the Valley of the Horses where she has to live for about five years all alone. Later, she meets a man; Jondalar is one of the Others.

In the Valley of the Horses, Ayla has to fight for her survival and take care of her needs without the support of the Clan. She has to be brave and smart. She has to hunt and kill, as well as find a way to process and store meat not to starve during severe and long winter months. She has to take care of clothing, medicine, sleeping skins, and safe shelter to protect herself from the dangers of the wild prehistoric world. She survives thanks to her knowledge in folk medicine, as well as hunting skills, developed brain, and critical thinking. In addition, she manages to cure Jondalar who was wounded by a lion. It is the first time Ayla meets with one of the Others. The girl manages to heal Jondalar, but the two still have to learn to understand each other. The man teaches her his language, and they finally can communicate. Now, they can deal with the world using joint efforts, skills, and knowledge.

Comments to the Synopsis

This synopsis was written based on tips for writing a synopsis we offered you at the beginning.

In only two short paragraphs, the writer has managed to summarize a book of 600 pages.

In the introduction, the author presents the book and the author.

Next, the synopsis defines historical and social settings without going into details of the archaeological excavations, new developmental theories, etc.

The final sentences of the first paragraph get the reader acquitted with the main characters and explain how the two have got into the discussed settings. Nevertheless, the writer does not describe the clans and particulars of the girl’s exclusion from the tribe.

The second paragraph retells the plot and determines problems that Ayla and Jondalar face.

The final sentence sum ups the story and the synopsis.

Now, when you have seen a sample and principles of writing a good synopsis, you are fully equipped to begin your own one! If you still find it difficult then you can ask us synopsis writing help.