Writing Tips: How to Make a Great Synopsis (Blurb)

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Having trouble writing a summary of your story? Welcome!

Submitted: June 06, 2013

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Submitted: June 06, 2013



A synopsis, or blurb, is one of two things, the first being what most people think of: what you read on the back of a book. However, there is another type of synopsis that most are not aware of—the one you sent to an agent or publisher.

First, we’ll go over the "back of the book blurb." These are the ones that are very mysterious, but at the same time give enough information about the plot that the reader will become interested.

Some authors just pick a scene from the book itself and slap it onto the back cover, and that’s totally fine because it works. Some just have those reviews and ratings from companies that have read the book, and they’re all positive propaganda (I do not recommend this method; it implies laziness on the part of the author). A majority of writers take the time to thoughtfully construct the blurb, which is what I am going to discuss now.

It is extremely important to not include every detail. It will not fit on the cover of the book. However, you can’t be too vague or cryptic; you have to make it just right! This is a task that many fine authors struggle with, and some people get others to write it for them, though this I also do not recommend. Instead, summarize your book from beginning to end, in no more than four or five small paragraphs. Then delete the first and last paragraph.

Yes, you read that correctly.

But! Go back to the beginning and add in a little setting or character detail, and then go to the end and leave a question or a trail-off(…). Trust me, this works wonders!


And that should do it for your cover.

On to the big synopsis, and by big, I mean one. Full. Page.

Stop complaining and get over it. If you want any agents or publishers to look at your work you’re going to need to write something decent.

I know it’s tempting to think "Oh, it’s just one page," and to rush through it, but DON’T! Contrary to what you might think, this synopsis is every bit as important as the novel itself. If you don’t do well on this, your book will never, ever, ever, EVER reach the shelves.

This synopsis is your ENTIRE novel—on a single page.

It’s a daunting thought, isn’t it?

But no worries; you can practice, and I’m here to help!

Firstly, include emotion in this synopsis. One of the greatest pitfalls is writing in a dry, blah-blah-blah, this and then that happened, this guy is this manner. That would be like reading something a three-year old wrote—a three-year old who wrote about the color gray. You must include the key emotional struggles of the protagonist (main character), the major relationships between key players (villain vs. hero, etc.), and a major event or turning point in the story.

Okay, so we all know how amazing and interesting the characters and the setting and the sub-events in your story are, but you can’t include everything in this synopsis! You have to stick with the basics; the story has to be able to stand up on its own—you can’t hold its hand while the publisher is scrutinizing every word. Don’t be that person who has to brag and justify everything about your child! If you’re not sure whether something you want to include is critical to the main storyline, just leave it out. Don’t fret over it.

Here’s a painful must: You absolutely have to tell the publisher the ending to your story.

"Oh, but, but, it’s a surprise!"

"I don’t care; include it."

Whatever you may think, you’re not going to ruin the end for the agent before he reads the actual book. The agent wants to make sure that he’s not going to invest his time reading this book if it’s going to have a poor-quality ending, such as aliens, an act of God, or "It was all a dream." Your ending needs to be like BAM! in his face.

So that’s how it’s done, in a nutshell. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I will definitely do my best to help you out! Thanks for reading!

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