How to Write a Synopsis
Synopses can vary depending on the intended audience and type of work. Most of the time, you should write your synopsis after you’ve finished writing or developing your work, because then you can create the most accurate summary. In general, it should do these major things:
- Begin with a hook—something interesting to grab the audience’s interest
- Give a clear summary of what the work is about
- Introduce major characters (protagonist, antagonist, notable supporting characters)
- Outline major plot points
- Introduce the setting (time and/or place)
- Identify a major conflict or turning point
- Highlight the genre, tone, and/or style of the work
- Give an idea of the work’s significance or why it matters
The length of a synopsis can vary. If you’re writing it for a website or as a summary for the audience, you may only need a paragraph. But, as mentioned, if you’ve written a book and need a synopsis for a publisher, for instance, then it should be longer and provide a fuller overview of the piece, including the plot from start to finish.
When to use a Synopsis
Really, anytime you write or create a lengthy work, you should write a synopsis. It lets people know what a piece is about without them having to watch or read the whole thing, which they often do to decide whether or not something is of interest. Furthermore, it can also be very useful for researchers because a synopsis allows them to see whether or not something is relevant or important to their own work. For that reason, a synopsis can save time for audiences and professionals alike.
Basically, when your work is going to be available to other people, and it’s longer than someone can read or watch in a few minutes, you should write a synopsis! Most books, films, and TV shows will also release a synopsis before the work officially comes out to build anticipation for its release. Obviously those synopses are still available afterwards, as well.