The Art of Summarizing Your Story: Tips for Crafting an Engaging Synopsis

Writing an engaging synopsis for your story can be a daunting task. For many authors, it’s one of the worst parts of writing, but a synopsis is a vital part of writing. A well-written synopsis, while necessary for querying, is also important in making sure your story is well-written.

An effective synopsis should be concise and engaging, giving readers a clear idea of what the story is about and why they should read it. This blog post will provide an overview of what to consider when summarizing your story, common mistakes to avoid, unique approaches to take, and how to test the strength of your synopsis.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Summarizing Your Story

A synopsis summarizes your story in one to two pages. This is the reason writing a synospis can be so daunting; having to summarize a 300-400 page novel in one to two pages can seem nearly impossible. But, a synopsis can help you see the main plot points of you story and notice places that may be dragging.

When summarizing your story, there are certain mistakes to avoid. These include: over-explanation, focusing on plot over character development, and neglecting to include the story’s conflict.


A synopsis is a high-level explanation of your book. This is not the time to explain the intricacies of your worldbuilding or explain your character’s backstories is going to take away from the point of a synopsis. Focus only on the points that need to be hit.

Focusing on plot and forgetting character development

While the main focus of your synopsis is the plot of your story, the development of your characters is also part of your plot. Remember to include key pieces of their development to keep them in your story.

Neglecting the conflict

Your synopsis needs to highlight your conflict and all the events that lead up to the conflict. This goes back to not deviating into extraneous details.

Unique Approaches to Summarizing Your Story

When summarizing your story, there are several unique approaches to consider, but I have one tried and true way to succinctly create a synopsis.

First, I write a one sentence summary of each chapter in my book. That’s right, only one sentence for each chapter. Not only does this narrow in on the part each chapter plays in the progression of the story, but it paints a clear picture of what’s going on in the book.

Hint: If you find a chapter doesn’t fit into your synopsis, it might be a good chapter to cut (don’t hate me!).

Once I’ve compiled all the sentences, I’ll read through and see what details need to be added and expanded. The fine tuning takes a bit of time, but the bulk of the synopsis writing is done quickly.

How to Test the Strength of Your Synopsis

Once you have written your synopsis, there are a few steps you can take to test the strength of your synopsis. These include asking for feedback, reading it out loud, putting it in front of a test audience, and trimming unnecessary information.

But my favorite way to test the strength of my synopsis is to have someone read it, someone who has never read the story, and summarize the story in one sentence. If they can get the gist of the story from the synopsis, it’s doing it’s job.

Final Thoughts

Writing a strong synopsis takes time and effort, but the end result is worth it. If my formula for writing a synopsis doesn’t work for you, don’t despair! Like anything else, it takes practice. Keep experimenting and refining your synopsis writing skills, and you’ll be sure to create a synopsis that captures the essence of your story.

Now, go forth and write your synopsis.

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