I’ve recently come to a painful point in my writing career. No longer content with only publishing fantasy short stories, I’ve had to start thinking about actually putting my novel out there, instead of just leaving it sitting in Google Docs for my own amusement. This means finding an agent, which means sweaty palms and deep confusion.
One such fear-inducing part of the whole process is writing that all-important novel synopsis. It’s utterly crucial you get it right, or nobody is going to request your manuscript. But how exactly do you get it right?
I decided the best thing I could do was to follow in the footsteps of others. I went out in search of novel synopsis examples. I found quite a few, but it took me a while. Most of the time, you’ll just find step-by-step guides as to the best methods of how to write a synopsis. Don’t get me wrong, these are great, and you definitely should read them carefully, but examples of success stories are what I really wanted to see.
To help you achieve manuscript requests with your current work in progress, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of what I found, just to make it that tiny bit easier for you! So, here is what we have. Bear in mind, I think it would be a bit underhanded of me to take credit and put the full novel synopsis example on my own website, so instead I’m covering what I’ve found and providing handy links to the materials.
Sorry, I couldn’t make it too easy!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
One of the best fantasy books ever written, when looking for examples of successful literary agent synopsis’ you can hardly ask for more than the novel breakdown that secured the best-selling series of the modern era. JK Rowling is famed for her generosity when it comes to supporting new writers and the provision of her synopsis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to clamouring audiences is no exception.
Okay, so we all know Gladiator is a movie. A pretty epic movie at that. But that isn’t the point of this post, so I won’t review it here... Writer and author Chuck Sambuchino has made a habit of taking much-loved movies and writing a novel-like synopsis for them. His goal is to help up-and-coming writers envisage what their synopsis should read like using popular media properties we are all familiar with. That familiarity really helps you understand what crucial elements you should include, and -- just as importantly -- what can be left out. Take a look here!
Prophecy of Sisters
Writer Michelle Zink has had great success through her published works, including seven well-received novels. The book that started it all, Prophecy of Sisters, debut to much acclaim. On her blog, Zink shares both the query letter and synopsis she submitted for the then titled ‘Indigo Sky’. This is a powerful example of a first-time author’s attempt at gaining attention from an agent; the perfect piece to read for aspiring novelists.
Author of A Kill in the Morning, Graeme Shimmin has garnered a number of awards for his fictional work. However, he is probably best known for his blog, which itself has picked up plenty of credits. On said blog, you’ll find numerous writing resources, works and reviews. Included in his reviews is a synopsis, written in the same style as that you’d send an agent. A particular highlight is his plot summary of Casino Royale, a great example of synopsis put together by a successful author.
Fine, yes, you got me. This is yet another synopsis that isn’t technically a novel synopsis example. However, I opted to include this one because it was written by a literary agent, and who better to offer examples of how to write a synopsis than a person who reads your words with the intent of either picking up the novel or not? This one comes from Janet Reid, who has written up a brief breakdown of the classic Cinderella tale. This is really great to read. It shows you the kind of language and sentence structure an agent will be looking for when going over your synopsis.
Fancy reading something that isn’t a plot synopsis? Letting yourself take a bit of downtime after all the hard work? Why not read The Azrian Anthology, a free fantasy eBook available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play and more.