The most difficult part of writing the synopsis of a mystery novel is getting started. First, it’s necessary to have a clear understanding of what we’re talking about when we say, “create a synopsis of your novel.” Simply put, a synopsis is a summary of the salient facts of your mystery story. It must introduce, sum up and wrap up your story. Here’s how you do it:
• Begin your synopsis when you begin your novel. As you finish each chapter, write a sentence or two describing what happened to which characters. Later you will edit, tighten and polish.
• Begin with a one-sentence hook. I opened my synopsis for my mystery novel, “Murder in a Teacup” with this sentence: Corporate trainer Lysi Weston isn’t surprised at rampant sexism from “Montana Marlboro Men,” but the murder of her co-presenter stuns her.
• Provide a sense of the setting, tone and pace of your novel
• Cover all the major characters, plot points and the ending.
• Reveal the character’s emotions and motivations.
• Don’t clutter the synopsis up with secondary characters unless they are critical to the plot and affect your main characters.
• Keep characters to a minimum and use only one name for each character. James Jones needs to be James Jones not Jim or Jimmy or Jonesy or lieutenant.
•You might add one or two relevant quotes from your characters.
• Present ideas in the shortest form possible. Leave out adjectives, adverbs and physical descriptions.
• Tell the entire story in your synopsis. Save suspense and surprise for your novel. Editors want to know the ending.
• State your ending and the resolution of the main conflict.
• Write in present tense, third person, omniscient point of view.
• Keep your synopsis short. Only two to five pages is best.
• Write in the same tone as your mystery novel. If the novel is serious, be serious. If it’s funny, inject humor.
• Double space your synopsis with one-inch margins in a 12 point font. I use Times New Roman.
• These days many editors want an electronic copy but if they want a hard copy, use plain white paper, no rainbow or flowered designs.
• Before sending your synopsis out, check publishers’ guidelines. Some publishers seem to have special needs.
Finally and most important keep rereading, shortening, editing, and polishing your mystery novel synopsis until it’s perfect.
Other writing tips:
4 Do’s and Don’ts of ”Show, Don’t Tell.”
How Do Conflict and Crisis Differ in a Mystery Novel?
How Important is Conflict in a Mystery Story?
How to Create Minor Characters in Your Mystery Novel
Pacing: A Critical Element in the Mystery Novel
What is Literary Style?
What is Theme in Literature?
7 Murder Weapons That Will Challenge The Cleverest Sleuth
7 Characteristics of Today’s Modern Mystery Novels
Developing Characters is No Mystery
Author’s Voice: How to find it?
What is Story Structure?