Feeling Tense about Tense in Synopses

Dear Mary…

The get-to-the-point answer: Regardless of which tense you use within your manuscript, your synopsis should be written in present tense.

The nifty technical-mumbo-jumbo answer: Characters and events in fiction exist in an eternal Now called the literary present. Thus, any writing (such as a synopsis) that describes a piece of fiction should be written as if the events are happening now, this very moment—in present tense.

Happy writing!

The Editor


  1. I understand the tense and the voice in a synopsis. The thing that confuses me is the length. I’ve read how-to’s that say anywhere form 500 words to 10% of the completed ms (in other words if the ms is 80k, the synopsis should be 8k). Please let us know about length when you have time…

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