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Write a Synopsis for a Novel

When I write a synopsis for a novel, I have to provide a brief outline of the original paper. If I am working on a research paper, a synopsis will include a brief summary of the paper and my explanations how I plan to complete the project. For me, as well as for my instructor, it is a great opportunity to see the real picture of the study. It creates a roadmap for meeting the goals of the study. This is why it is so important to work hard to develop a perfect synopsis.

Different academic institutions provide different requirements for synopsis writing. Moreover, even within the same institution, professors may have different ideas about synopsis writing. This is why I always review the instructions before I start writing a synopsis. At the same time, certain recommendations and requirements are the same for all synopses. I have created this guide for students like me, who will need to write a synopsis. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it.

Background: at the point, you will move from the general to specific. That is, you will provide background information about the subject or topic, and then you will use this information to propose a specific research question and justify the relevance of your topic. Don’t forget to justify the importance of the topic to your reader. Identify a gap in knowledge and say how your research will close this gap.

Theoretical or conceptual framework: it can be a theory, or it can be a conceptual framework. These notions are not interchangeable. Which one you decide to include in your synopsis will also depend on the instructions and requirements of your professor. My professor accepts it either way. Then, the methodology will include a review of the methods used to collect and analyze data. It is important to make a difference between qualitative and quantitative research. The difference will guide the entire process in writing.

Research questions: Here, it is important to identify and specify the research questions, which the study intended to answer.

Hypotheses: these are the assumptions that the researchers planned to check or test using qualitative or quantitative methods. In fact, you will hardly find any hypotheses in qualitative research; if there are any, most likely, you are witnessing a quantitative study.

Objectives: here you have to specify the goals and objectives of the study.

Literature review: it is an overview of research completed before the study, which provides a rationale for the study itself.

Limitations: here, the limitations of methods and designs should be thoroughly discussed. Your professor will want to see how well you can evaluate the consistency of research methods and its implications for the study results.

References: you may want to include the most important references for your professor. As a student, I may want to outline the sources I plan to use when I carry out the proposed research. The list of references may include primary and secondary texts. It may also include journal articles and books.

When working on your research project, you will have to follow your professor’s requirements. Please review the instructions for your paper. For example, you may need to write your paper using APA, 12-point font, Times New Roman.

How Long Is a Synopsis?

No one can say for sure. As a student, I know that different professors provide their unique requirements regarding the number of pages to be written for each synopsis. Moreover, the range of page count requirements can be quite wide – between 3 and 15 pages. Check with your supervisor how long your synopsis should be and try to fit your material within these limits. Choose the most important aspects of the original text. When you are done with the synopsis, check it thoroughly and submit it for grading. Although the specific requirements for synopsis writing will vary, you can still use my tips to improve the quality of your writing and write a synopsis for a book professionally.

Five Valuable Tips to Write a Synopsis for a Novel

Before you submit the finished synopsis for grading, check these elements and improve your work!

  • Narrative arc is about the topic line in your paper: you begin with an introduction (or problem), then explain the essence of the problem (or the plot), and move logically to a conclusion. You will need to display a profound understanding of the source text. You will need to summarize important events and link them into a cohesive narrative. It is a good test to your writing skills.
  • Active voice. Make sure that you don’t use too much passive voice. It is a sign of bad taste and poor writing skills. Use active voice. Also, present the synopsis in third person.
  • Perspective or viewpoint. Any professor wants to see my perspective or viewpoint on the material presented in the original text. Try to include something personal, and your synopsis will certainly stand out.
  • Story progress. Include some additional elements in your synopsis. For example, what did the protagonists of the story feel? Be clear in your writing. Avoid ambiguities.

What You Should not Do When Working on Your Synopsis

You can never know how you will be writing a synopsis, since the requirements of your professors will be different and, at times, unexpected. For example, one supervisor may ask you to write one single-spaced page, whereas another will expect three-four double-spaced pages. However, there are certain things that you should avoid at all times:

  • Using too much space to discuss too many characters.
  • Providing too much unnecessary detail, thus making your synopsis redundant. There is no sense retelling the entire story. Your function is to produce an informative summary.
  • Providing unnecessary explanations. Each and every word in your synopsis should have meaning.
  • Adding meaning where it is absent. You are writing a synopsis, not an analysis of the original story. Your readers don’t expect you to label the book as “good”, “bad” or “inappropriate”. Let the reader make a decision on their own. Your task is to summarize the content; no more, no less.
  • Writing an introduction to a book. Your task is to summarize the novel. You don’t need to advertise it. You don’t need to exaggerate its strong sides.

Formatting the Synopsis

There are some useful tips to help you with formatting. First, introduce the story and the protagonist. Begin with something intriguing, and don’t forget to outline the problem or conflict discussed in the book. Then you will elaborate upon the major points of the book or story. Finally, in a conclusion to your synopsis, you will say how good the author has been resolving these conflicts. You should summarize the ways or strategies used by protagonists to solve their problems. Make sure that your narrative is logical and keeps your reader interested until the last word. You can certainly review my recommendations once again to improve the synopsis you have just written.

You are most welcome to download synopsis samples. If you need help critiquing a book or writing a synopsis, ask for help. I will be happy to do it for you!

Free Novel Synopsis Sample

Download PDF Sample

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