re: Which Tense Is Best for Synopses?

in Formatting/Punctuation/Grammar/Submissions by

Dear Editor…

What tense should be used when writing a synopsis?  Does it matter what tense is used in the manuscript?



Dear Mary…

No matter which tense you use in your story, apply literary present tense to your synopsis. Literary present describes your story as if it were happening right now: “When Khalel’s secret is revealed, he assumes his night daemon shape and escapes into the darkness.” Feel free to inject a hint of your story’s narrative voice into your synopsis, but don’t get wonky with the tense. Sticking with this standard lets your prospective agent or editor focus the content instead of the form.

Happy writing!

The Editor


  1. “…but don’t get wonky with the tense.” I had to laugh. As writers, we spend a lot of time trying to get the ‘wonkiness’ out of our writing. (At least I do.) Good luck to us all and thanks so much for the post!

    • “Wonky” just seemed the right word for a Friday. Glad to make you laugh. Have a great weekend, Laura.

  2. I’m in the process of writing a synopsis too! Hope I can put a narrative voice into it.

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