You are here:

Writing Books/plot synopsis


Hello, and thanks,
one agency wants along with the paragraph about myself, a plot synopsis, then any publishing credits. Do they want the plot synopis as a paragraph in the query letter or an outline of the book? Could you give me any tips on writing it?

With regard to what agents are looking for, synopsis and outline mean the same thing: a heavily condensed version of the book, with the emphasis on plot.

A few tips on the outline/synopsis:

It should be written in the third person (unless the novel is in first person and the outline can be made more interesting in first person).

It should be in the present tense. Focus on events occurring moment-by-moment, as though the reader (and writer) were there watching them happen.

The beginning and ending of the outline should read and feel like the beginning and ending of the book, even in condensed form.

Most outlines are broken into chapters, just as the books are.  But a single, unbroken narrative can work, too.

Ten to fifteen pages is about average for an outline, but there are no hard & fast rules about length.

Hope that helps.

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

©2017 All rights reserved.