Writing a Synopsis

The dictionary definition of ‘synopsis’ (derived from the Ancient Greek meaning) is ‘a brief description of the contents of something’.

It’s a painful thing to do but something you can’t get away from!

Every literary agent or publisher requires a synopsis so it’s better to simply get going.

There are certain ground rules:

– Keep it concise; avoid wordy sentences.
– Highlight your genre and theme right away. Agents are busy people and don’t want to get bogged down with teasers.
– Mention the main characters.
– It’s always in third person, present tense. E.g.: ‘Rhea is a Delhi-based computer professional with anger management issues…’
– It should usually be no more than two or three pages, double-spaced.

There are a number of excellent websites and blogs that’ll help you writing a synopsis. Use them!

To help you along, here’s a sample: the synopsis for my short story, Gods on Speed, which is available online at www.wattpad.com.

‘Sharon Gupta

Gods on Speed


Gods on Speed is a short story approximately 7721 words long presenting the Trojan War in the style of a thriller.

The Greeks are struggling after beseiging the City-State of Troy for ten years. Achilles, the great warrior-king, has withdrawn from battle after a tiff with Agamemnon, King of Mycenae and leader of the Greek contingent. Abruptly Achilles returns, the Greeks regroup and, following the stratagem of the wooden horse, they finally breach Troy’s walls. But who, or what, made Achilles change his mind? And how did the war-weary Greeks think of deceiving the Trojans with a wooden horse?

Helen of Sparta is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her husband Menelaus is King. Her sister Clytemenestra is married to the ambitious Agamemnon, Menelaus’ brother. When the Trojan princes Hector and Paris visit Sparta on a diplomatic mission, Paris seduces Helen and she elopes with him. An enraged Menelaus turns to Agamemnon for help and the latter sees this as an opportunity to unite and lead the various Greek kings, notably Odysseus of Ithaca, renowned for his cunning and Achilles of Phthia, a fearsome warrior. After sacrificing his young daughter Iphegenia at the port of Aulis, Agamemnon leads the Greeks in a thousand ships across the Aegean Sea to attack the kingdom of Troy, ostensibly to recover Helen and avenge Menelaus. But Troy’s walls have never been breached. King Priam and his sons, particularly Hector and Paris, are able commanders. Troy defies the Greek assault for ten long years. The manner in which the Greeks overcome the Trojans and the conspiracy behind it constitute the element of suspense in the story.

Now, in order to alleviate the boredom of writing a synopsis, here’s a clip of some of Sherlock’s funniest lines from the TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.