Do you have to write a synopsis for your book, journal, article, or perhaps a movie but have no idea how to start with it? If so, this article is an ultimate guide for all your synopsis needs. Follow this article to get in-depth details on how to write a synopsis.
Whether you are a student or a professional writer, you’ll find yourself having to write a synopsis at some point in your life. If you are a novel writer, your novel is incomplete without a synopsis. Even if you have already written, edited, and polished your novel to perfection, missing a synopsis means that you are missing a critical piece of your novel.
For students, a synopsis can be important for some academic papers or assignments. Writing a long academic piece of paper without a synopsis is more likely to get negative feedback from the supervisors. The synopsis is more significant for students doing research work as it can lay down all the important and useful aspects of the research.
Likewise, article writers also have to maintain a proper synopsis for their articles and research work. This helps to effectively deliver their message to a wide range of audiences without having to read a lengthy piece of writing. Synopsis for movies and TV shows can sum up the storyline while including all the key points and character traits as well.
If you are facing any of the above scenarios where you have to write a synopsis but are not sure about getting started, this guide has got you covered. Thankfully, writing a synopsis is not a complicated process. This article will explore all about how to write a synopsis and the important elements for writing one perfectly. You must follow these guidelines to write a synopsis in no time. So, let’s start.
What is a synopsis?
Before learning how to write a synopsis, you must be fully aware of what a synopsis is and what it isn’t. In simple words, a synopsis is a detailed summary of anything that needs to be summarized. In an academic context, it is a summary of any book, academic paper, research work, or any other piece of writing. But in some cases, it can also be written for a movie, TV show, podcast, or any form of presentation. It’s more like an overview of a book, an article, or a show.
The purpose of a synopsis is to give a shortened version of a given piece of writing or a video show. For a book or a novel, a synopsis is a summary that makes the reader understand its plot and how its story unfolds. It might also contain the key details about the book’s setting, characters, tone, etc. Synopsis can be written for fiction as well as non-fiction books.
A synopsis is more likely to be subjective since the writer highlights and includes the key points that he wants the reader to read. So, a synopsis sometimes also shows editorial bias. The authors of a piece of writing and its synopsis are not always the same person. Someone other than the book’s author is probably writing a synopsis for that particular book. Thus, the synopsis reflects the style of its writer and not the original writer of the book.
The same goes for all other types of the synopsis as well. The major elements and characteristics are consistent throughout. A synopsis contains sufficient details to clarify the main idea and is informative enough to aid any further investigation. Simply put, a synopsis represents the original piece in the best possible way.
A synopsis is also easier to read since it only focuses on the text you’re summarizing rather than digging into a deeper or wider perspective. A good synopsis highlights what the audience needs to know; it will make them feel as if they’ve read the whole text or have seen the entire film themselves. A poorly written synopsis creates a confused outline of the original text by missing out on major points or giving an inaccurate or one-sided aspect of the text.
Not an outline, pitch, or abstract
When you want to know what a synopsis is, you must also know what it isn’t. Since there are many terms like the outline, pitch or abstract, etc. that are associated with the summary of texts, it is important to know how synopsis is different from such terms.
Talking about the outline, it is more like a skeleton or a boundary of what’s included in the original text or the book. You can think of an outline as a table of content or something on which the book continues to grow. On the other hand, a synopsis is a complete summary of the text or book that is used to provide an in-depth and complete account of all the major details from the first page to the last one.
If we talk about an abstract, it is also a summary but not a detailed one. An abstract aims to provide a brief summary of the original text. Meanwhile, a synopsis goes into every detail and specifies every key point of the text. So, the difference between an abstract and a synopsis is that the former is a general or brief summary while the latter is a more detailed summary.
Coming towards the pitch, it is one of the shortest forms of summary, more like a few-liner text that makes your book appealing and attractive. A pitch is a sort of marketing exercise and is designed for maximum impact. On the other hand, a synopsis is not supposed to be attractive since it’s mostly written for informational purposes. The writer can add interesting details but it’s not something that every synopsis must have. Also, a synopsis is longer than a pitch.
When to write a synopsis?
Every time you create a lengthy piece of content, you should write a synopsis for it. It helps your audience know about your work without having to read or watch the whole thing. And if your synopsis is good enough to capture their attention, they might just go on and even watch or read the original movie or text. So you see, this is why synopsis is at the heart of every good book or movie.
In simple words, you should write a synopsis if you know that your work is long enough to read or watch in a few minutes, and synopsis can help cover that.
Importance of synopsis
Over the years, there is a massive amount of content being generated globally. This makes it hugely difficult for readers to keep up with everything. That’s why people randomly decide what they would like to read or watch. When people have less time on their hands, they start prioritizing things like books or movies. This is where the synopsis comes in. It can play an important role in letting people decide whether they would continue to read the original book or watch the movie.
Not just readers, a good synopsis can help to grab publishers’ attention as well. Publishers are looking for content that can engage readers and become an instant hit since they want to put their hands on lucrative businesses only. If you have just written a book and are looking for a good publisher to publish it, a synopsis is a tool that can help you with it. Through a synopsis, publishers get to know the key details about the subject, genre, characters, and the writer’s point of view.
Moreover, your synopsis is also helpful for researchers in their research work. A synopsis can allow them to evaluate whether the original content is relevant and valuable for their work or not. This way, they can save a lot of time by just reading the synopsis rather than digging into the entire piece of content.
Types of synopsis
There are various types of synopsis depending on the type of content you want to summarize. Below, we have listed some of the most used and basic types of synopsis.
A literary synopsis summarizes any literary work like books or articles. It includes all the critical elements of a book so that a publisher or any other book agent can comprehend all of its high-level details without having to read it fully.
When writing a literary synopsis, you must make sure to include the most critical story and plot points, conflict, characters, setting, themes, and even the tone of the original text.
This type of synopsis is most often used by researchers or research institutes. A research synopsis summarizes the problem addressed by the research or the question answered by it. It also includes how the research was done and what key results can be deduced from it. A research synopsis can also include the details on the researchers themselves, such as any relevant academic degrees or certifications they hold.
A research synopsis is not only helpful for the readers, it can be helpful for other researchers as well. When starting research on their own, they can read the synopsis of their fellow researchers to have an idea of their research work as well.
This type of synopsis is most often used in science and engineering fields. A project synopsis summarizes a project’s goals, processes, and conclusions. It often begins with a statement that summarizes the problem that the project aims to solve. Then, it continues with the techniques used in the project and other key details. It can also shed light on the participants of the project or the people associated with it. A project synopsis then ends with the performance of the project and the results achieved by it.
Just as the name indicates, a novel synopsis summarizes a novel, be it fiction or nonfiction. It is a detailed summary of how the novel’s story unfolds and what are the major advancements in it. When writing a novel synopsis, the writer must make sure to cover every key detail including the genre, storyline, characters, setting, etc.
A novel synopsis must be compelling enough to attract the readers towards reading the full novel. A good novel synopsis can also help the novel get noticed by publishers
Article synopsis is written for all kinds of articles including news articles, literary articles, or any other type of article. If it is a news article, the synopsis will cover all the details of the news or the event covered in the original article. As for literary articles, the synopsis includes all the key points discussed in the article.
A report synopsis is used to summarize a report. It can include any kind of report like a film report, a book report, a project report, or even a medical report. For writing a synopsis for a report, it is better to know your subject matter from beginning to end; otherwise, you’ll not be able to summarize it.
Elements of a synopsis
Down below are the few elements that a good synopsis must include.
A narrative arc is used to describe the construction of the plot in chronological order. This is a must-have element for a book or novel synopsis. A book has three major parts; beginning, middle, and end. The beginning is where the background of the story is revealed, the arc starts at this point.
The middle is usually where conflict happens and the ending describes the resolution points, this is where the arc comes to completion. So basically, a narrative arc summarizes the book or novel through the following five elements.
This is where the background of the story is described. The book’s characters and period are also introduced here. Exposition may also contain elements pointing out to the specific book genre.
The background has been described and now the circumstances are beginning to heat up, leading towards the climax. This is where things start getting exciting and readers start to develop their interest.
This is the most exciting point of the story that the readers are waiting for. Sometimes, readers can even skip the introduction to get to the climax right away. This is why this part of the synopsis is very important. It is the part that makes the book and its author sparkle. Most of the time, this is where evil starts vanishing and good things start happening.
This part is like the peace or silence after the storm. It leads the readers toward the end and things start getting sorted. In this part, the writer must describe the results of the climax and how the conflict was settled. A synopsis must summarize the aftereffects of the climax.
Resolution is where the book or novel ends. It is what the reader is most ardently waiting for. It’s like the destination of a journey and the readers are the travelers. A resolution need not be happy or satisfying in all cases. However, it does wrap up the story and the characters’ lives.
So, these were the essential elements of a narrative arc that your synopsis must contain. Overall, you need to summarize the entire book through the narrative arc.
When writing a synopsis for any book, novel, or story, characterization is one of the most essential elements to include. After all, characters put life into a story, they are the soul of the story. Without characters, a story would be nothing but a skeleton. Characters are what make the story complete. Readers are more likely to remember the characters than the story. Therefore, characters must be included in a synopsis.
A good synopsis is clearly able to portray the intensity or the role played by the book’s characters. It should be gripping enough that after reading it, the readers eagerly want to continue with the book as well.
A synopsis is incomplete without the viewpoint of the original text’s writer. If you have written a novel or a book, you know the immense effort that a writer puts into his writing. Basically, he lives in his book for the entire time of writing. So when you are writing a synopsis for your book, it is a chance for you to go down the memory lane and describe all that went through your mind when you were writing that book. You can also describe what led you to start writing in the first place.
How to write a synopsis?
Now that you know the different types and essential elements of a synopsis, let’s advance towards the next step – how to write a synopsis? Writing a synopsis is easy if you follow the steps described below.
Step 1: Read the text
Planning is the first and foremost step in writing a synopsis. For this purpose, it is essential that you thoroughly read the material for which you are going to write a synopsis. Moreover, make sure to prioritize the text’s fundamentals because your synopsis is not good enough if it doesn’t demonstrate a fully fleshed-out plot and strong narrative arc. So when preparing for a synopsis, you must look for fundamental and repeated themes or ideas in the original text.
You can take notes, or jot down any character names that are difficult to remember. Write down the major ideas of the text that, you think, are vital to adding to the synopsis. Or you can just highlight the points to remember in the original text. Remember, not all ideas will be included in the synopsis, only the major points are to be added.
Step 2: Start writing
Based on the material or notes you’ve collected from the original text, you can start writing your synopsis. Make sure to cover every important detail. As stated earlier, characterization plays a key role so you must include the details of not all, but major characters.
You should start with major plot points, or a hook to grab the audience’s attention. Then, give a clear summary of what the book is about. You can then go on to introduce the major characters and setting. Keeping the above-described elements in mind, you need to highlight any climax or turning point of the original text. Also, highlight the genre, style, or tone of the work.
If you find it difficult to start this way and are unable to spot major details in the text, you can go the smallest way and sum up the original text in one sentence. Then you can stretch it out to include more major details and key developments. This way, you will have a good start for your synopsis.
If you are writing a synopsis for your own work, then you will have all the details in mind. But not all of these will go into the synopsis. You must ensure to include only the key points in the synopsis. On the other hand, if you are writing a synopsis for someone else’s work, you are probably not aware of the text. For this, you need to thoroughly read it so that no important detail gets skipped.
Another thing to keep in mind when writing a synopsis is its length. The length may vary depending on the type of synopsis you are writing. If you are writing a literary or book synopsis, it will be long enough to provide a full overview of the text. However, if you are writing a synopsis for something shorter like an article or a report, then the synopsis can tend to be shorter as well.
Step 3: Revise and improve
You have written the first draft of your synopsis. Now, it is time to check it and revise it for further perfection. The first draft of a synopsis is usually very long and contains too many details. So while revising, you need to omit needless details. Stick to the point and essence of a synopsis and keep only the major details. You can also do this by shortening needlessly long sentences. Also, you can overall improve the text if you don’t find it befitting the original text.
Step 4: Check the details
Once you have revised the synopsis text, it is now time to look for any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors. You can use a dictionary or thesaurus to check for spelling or vocabulary problems
So this is all about synopsis writing. This article serves as an all-in-one guide that includes everything from what a synopsis is to how to write a synopsis effectively. Hopefully, you are now aware of the essence of synopsis writing and why it is important to know all the key elements included in a good synopsis. If you follow the above-mentioned steps and keep the essential elements in mind, you will be able to ace a good synopsis in no time.