Writing a mystery novel synopsis story

I used to hate them because the ones I wrote sucked all the life from the novel, reducing it to bare-bones sentences that did nothing to capture the depth of the novel itself.

Writing a mystery novel synopsis story

The following post is an old favorite that I regularly update. It shows what happens and who changes, and it has to reveal the ending. However, I recommend keeping it short, or at least starting short.

Write a one-page synopsis—about words, single spaced—and use that as your default, unless the submission guidelines ask for something longer. If your synopsis runs longer, anything up to two pages again, single spaced is usually acceptable. Why the novel synopsis is important to agents and editors The synopsis ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense.

A synopsis will reveal any big problems in your story—e. It can reveal plot flaws, serious gaps in character motivation, or a lack of structure. Some agents hate synopses and never read them; this is more typical for agents who represent literary work.


Synopses should usually be written in third person, present tense even if your novel is written in first person. For memoirists, I recommend first person, but first or third is acceptable.

Motivation is fairly critical here—we need to understand what drives this character to act. To decide what characters deserve space in the synopsis, you need to look at their role in generating conflict for the protagonist, or otherwise assisting the protagonist.

How to Write a Synopsis Step 3: Consider the Impact Character's Role

We need to see how they enter the story, the quality of their relationship to the protagonist, and how they might change, too. A good rule of thumb for determining what stays and what goes: If the character or plot point comes up repeatedly throughout the story, and increases the tension or complication each time, then it definitely belongs.

Think of what it would sound like if you summarized a football game by saying. And then the Giants scored. Then the Patriots scored twice in a row. The crowd went wild. Instead, include both story advancement plot stuff and color character stuff.

Stick to the basics. However, if the flashbacks are really about what happens in the book rather than why something happens, then they may belong in your synopsis. Avoid including dialogue, and if you do, be sparing. Make sure the dialogue you include is absolutely iconic of the character or represents a linchpin moment in the book.

Generally you should avoid splitting the synopsis into sections.

How To Write A 1-Page Synopsis | Pub(lishing) Crawl

In rare cases, there might be a reason to have subheads in the synopsis, due to a unique narrative structure, but try to avoid sectioning out the story in any way, or listing a cast of characters upfront, as if you were writing a play.

That means you should leave out any attempts to impress through poetic description. This helps us better understand the characters and their motivations once introduced. For example, a synopsis of Harry Potter might clarify upfront that the world is divided into Muggles and wizards, and that the Muggles have no idea that a magical world exists.

Or, this fact could be relayed in the synopsis once Harry Potter learns about it himself. Instead, try to get the point across in language that anyone can understand and gets the same point across. How to avoid novel synopsis wordiness Synopsis language has to be very stripped down.

Very Wordy At work, Elizabeth searches for Peter all over the office and finally finds him in the supply room, where she tells him she resents the remarks he made about her in the staff meeting.

Tight At work, Elizabeth confronts Peter about his remarks at the staff meeting. You should not mention all of them.Writers often find that the synopsis is the most difficult component of their novel submission package. Here we break it down for you so you can spend less time stressing and more time writing.

by Chuck Sambuchino and the Editors of Writer’s Digest Books. You'll need a book or novel synopsis to send literary agents.

writing a mystery novel synopsis story

Read a simple guide on writing and formatting a perfect synopsis (with a synopsis example). The synopsis is a sample of your writing; it is a taste of what reading the actual novel will be like, so give it your all. Don't forget that one- or two-sentence story line, or the theme of the story that you discovered.

Writers will spend years writing, lovingly polishing and then marketing a novel, and yet they shrug off the synopsis with a comment like "I hate writing synopses." I hate writing synopses, too. I used to hate them because the ones I wrote sucked all the life from the novel, reducing it to bare-bones.

Find all the books, read about the author, and more. To write a great murder mystery, consider plotting backwards. Click To Tweet. I always know the end of the mystery before I begin to write. Tension should he held within the novel and there should be no longuers of boring interrogation.

How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel