Author Resource Center: Checklist Fiction Book Synopsis

When your literary agents/publishers that you are pitching your Fiction Book Letter/Proposal manuscript tell you that they want a long form story Synopsis, the first thing you do is probably panic.  Most authors cringe at the thought of writing this important component of some novel submissions.

The Synopsis is a retelling in short form of your book’s story. It is written in present tense and in third person, which means using he, she, they etc. regardless if your novel is written in first person.

Goldilocks provides a thorough discussion of the components that make up an engaging story Synopsis that will help you to craft one that will hook your literary agents/publishers and have them begging to see your full manuscript.

Take a look…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Fiction Book Synopsis (Long Form)

Goldilocks says, “Don’t panic,” you say that your agent wants a “short form” Synopsis! She has you covered…

Check it out…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Fiction Synopsis (Short/Single Page Style)

When you have finished composing your story Synopsis read the following Checklist to make sure that you have covered all the various components and are now preparing to send it out and pray!

Following this main Checklist will be instructions for formatting your copy.  Again, Goldilocks can’t stress this enough, she is providing industry standards for her checklists and follows tried and true processes for composing the various parts and pieces of book proposals/queries. But that being said, you should always follow the guidelines given by your literary agents/publishers exactly as they are noted.

Let’s get started…

  • The Opening Hook

These few sentences must make your literary agents/publishers who are reading your story Synopsis, say “Wow, I want to know more about this story!” or something to that effect.

It should contain…

-The setting/setup (Give the location and time frame.)

-Main characters (Highlight their names in bold on first reference.)

-Introduction to the conflict (Explain its source and how it affects the plot.)

Here is an example of a good “Hook.”

Tortured by grief and loss (person vs. self) and fleeing a wrong conviction for a crime he didn’t commit (person vs. society), DR. RICHARD KIMBALL struggles to survive (person vs. nature) while fleeing the relentless lawman who pursues him (person vs. person).

  • Main character (protagonist) development

The emotional side of the story will be expressed in part by the main character’s progression through several stages as follows…

-Who is your main character at the start of the story?

-What kind of person is this character?

-What is the character’s approach to life?

Describe how your main character is thrust into a situation where pressure is exerted to change.

-Does your main character decide to take a leap of faith and change?

-Is a new approach adopted, or is an uncharacteristic action chosen?

-Finally, does this character hold true to who that person is and become more entrenched in a given attitude or approach?

-At the end of the novel, is the main character better off because of the choice(s) having been made?

-Does the reader feel that the character has done the right thing? 

  • Antagonist (the primary bad guy) development

This is the character that opposes the protagonist outright on all counts, physically and emotionally.

  • Impact Character(s) development

They are one or more characters that are responsible for pressuring the main character to change, generally by giving an example of a diametrically different approach or outlook. The impact character shows why and how the main character might need to change. So consider…

When the impact character enters the novel, how does that person express a different approach or attitude to that of the main character?

-How does the impact character pressure or influence the main character to either abandon old ways or learn a new way of doing things?

If the main character changes at the climax of the story, the impact character typically remains fixed in that person’s ways. On the other hand, if the main character stays the same, the impact character may be forced to change.

The interaction of both the main and impact character also go through several stages as follows…

-How their relationship stands at the beginning of the story.

-How their relationship develops or is tested in the course of the story.

-The climax of their relationship (a decisive change)

-Their relationship at the end of the story. How is it different?

  • Main plot points

(What makes the characters act or make decisions?)

What unexpected events affect the story line?

-Key action scenes (How does the story move forward?)

You know that your plot is a sequence of events that proceed through several basic stages. These include…

-The inciting incident that gets things moving, sets the protagonist on course towards his goal

-Event(s) which illustrate opposition to the story progression

-The crisis: the decisive event or turning point that sets the story on a course for either achieving the goal or failure.

  • Resolution or conclusion

Reveal the ending in your Synopsis, don’t leave the literary agent/publisher wondering how the conflicts have been resolved. It will show that you’ve successfully finished your novel.

Make sure every loose thread is tied up and never leave them guessing about anything. If your novel is one of a series, your ending can point to the sequel

Basic Novel Synopsis Formatting Guidelines

-It should be typed on plain letter paper (no fancy stationery or colored paper should be used), usually double-spaced but do check with the publisher or agent guidelines on their Websites.

For E-Mail submissions, use 12 pitch with Times New Roman font.

-One inch margins on all sides, left justified

-In the upper left-hand side of the first page, list your contact information: name, address, telephone and cell numbers, E-Mail address.

-In the upper right-hand side, put the novel’s genre, word count and the word “Synopsis” in caps.

-Don’t number the first page but place page numbering on the upper right corner of all additional pages.

-Place the novel’s title, centered and in all caps, about one-third of the way down the page.

-Begin the Synopsis text four lines below the title.

-The text throughout the Synopsis should be double-spaced (unless you plan to keep it to one

or two pages), in which single spaced copy is fine.

-Use all caps the first time you introduce a character

-The first line of text on each page after the first page should be three lines below the header.

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Goldilocks has provided the following methodology/processes that she implements when composing a Fiction Query Letter and Synopsis if required by the literary agents and publishers where you are pitching your manuscript.

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Fiction/Novel Query Letter and Novel Synopsis

In addition you can find a submission Checklist for your Fiction Query Letter/Proposal by visiting The Author Resource Center that Goldilocks has set up to give you additional assistance.

Here is the link…

Author Resource Center: Checklist Fiction Book Query Letter/Proposal

At any time if you become confused with the process of submitting your Fiction Query Letter/Proposal, simply reach out to Goldilocks and she will try and help you to finally get the darn thing sent out to the literary agents that you have selected.

Goldilocks can also write your Query Letter submission for you, just simply contact her as follows…

Contact Goldilocks
E-Mail her:
Pick up the phone: 914-944-1474

Goldilocks Wishes You Success with Your Fiction Manuscript Submission!