How to Format the Dreaded Synopsis

We’ve been talking a lot about synopses lately, but do you know how to format one? Here’s a cheat sheet for you.

Agents and editors typically follow the same guidelines as below, but it’s always a good idea to check their website or blog in case they have a personal preference.

-Double-space a synopsis, unless it’s one page single-spaced—ANYTHING over a page means double spacing the synopsis.

-Align left (don’t justify).

-Use one-inch margins all around.

-Check your font. It should be: Times New Roman or Courier, 12-point, black.

-If the synopsis is double-spaced, indent the first line of paragraphs ½ inch, but don’t add an extra line between paragraphs.

-If the synopsis is single-spaced, do NOT indent the paragraphs, but put an extra line between them.

-Your header should be on the left like this: author’s last name/title/synopsis. For any page beyond the first, use the same header format but add /page number after “synopsis”.

Note: Contests usually don’t want you to have your name on the entry, so check if you need to remove yours.

Page One Formatting

-Use the same header as mentioned above.

-Drop to a line or two below the header and center the title.

-Write “Synopsis” two lines below the title.

-If you need to add your contact information, place it in the top left corner, a line or two under the header, with each piece on its own line (name, address, phone number, e-mail address), then add the title and “Synopsis” as mentioned above.

-Start the synopsis three or four lines after “Synopsis”.

-If you’d like to include your genre and word count, include that opposite the contact information with the genre above the word count.

If an agent or editor requests a synopsis, send them what they want. Don’t add extra pages from your manuscript. Don’t send them a ten-page synopsis if they asked for three pages. Note: Some agents don’t mind if you send an extra few pages of your manuscript. If they don’t want to read them, they won’t. However, if the agent’s guidelines specifically state not to do this, DON’T.

Hint: If an agent or editor requests a brief synopsis, she often only wants a paragraph or two, like the blurb in the query letter. She just wants to get a feel for the story. If she wants more details, she’ll ask.

Don’t stress over synopsis writing. If you have a hard time summarizing your manuscript in three pages, remove the required page number from your mind. Instead, start with a shorter synopsis and build on it, rather than trying to reduce it. The opposite can also work. Write out ten pages and cut, cut, cut. Everyone is different. Find out what works for you.

How do you write your synopsis?

Lynnette Labelle

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to Format the Dreaded Synopsis

  1. Henya says:

    Thanks. Good stuff. This post came just at the right time for me, as I’m in the middle of writing my synopsis.

  2. Lynnette Labelle says:

    Henya: Glad to hear it! 🙂

    Lynnette Labelle

Comments are closed.