How to Write a Synopsis For an Article
Whether you call it a synopsis, a description or a summary, the two to five sentences you should include when publishing your article on an article directory are more important than many people assume. If you tend to simply copy and paste the first few sentences of your article into the summary or description box then you could be missing out on a whole heap of traffic that’s passing you by. Find out what’s so important about a synopsis, when to write one, and how to create a summary which helps significantly increase the number of times your article is seen and read, helping boost traffic to your website.
Imagine if authors didn’t take the time to write a synopsis on the back of their novels, but instead just copied out the first few lines from the book itself. Do you think they’d sell as well? Of course not. Most people tend to read the blurb on the back or the inside cover, and this will often give them an indication of whether the book might be worth considering, or putting back on the shelf.
Writing a synopsis of a book tends to take a very great deal of time, and in fact many authors have complained that it’s often the hardest part of the whole book to write. How do you summarise tens of thousands of words in just a paragraph or two? It can be a painful experience deciding on what must be left out, what must be ignored and what must be condensed into an absurdly brief space. But more than this, a book synopsis must sell the book. It’s very often the main way in which books are sold.
Now of course, if you’re writing articles for publication online you don’t have quite such a hard job condensing a few hundred words into a handful of sentences. It’s a much easier job in that respect, but the need to sell your article is just as important, and it is this which is the main purpose of your summary.
Understanding Where Your Synopsis Will Be Seen
There are three main ways in which people may come across your article: through a listing on the article directory itself, through a listing on the results page of a search engine, or through a link in a social media site such as Facebook or Google+. In all three of these cases there will be just two things to encourage people to click the link and read your article: the title, and the summary.
If you look up your articles on Google, or in a search engine such as Google, or even link to one yourself on your Facebook or Google+ page and see how it looks you’ll see for yourself that all that’s there to sell your article is the title and the description. Hopefully your title is top notch, designed to knock people’s socks off and grab their attention. But a title alone isn’t enough. How many times have you picked up a book because the title sounded exciting, intriguing, funny or otherwise up your street, yet when you started reading the synopsis you decided that perhaps it wasn’t for you after all?
That’s the problem with writing a weak summary for articles online. If all you do is use the first couple of sentences from your article then you are seriously reducing the likelihood of people being grabbed by the relevance of your article. Your opening sentences are likely to be an introduction to the topic, problem, question or review. A summary should not be an introduction. It stands to reason, since a summary and an introduction are two entirely different concepts.
Why A Summary Should Not Really Be A Summary
But there’s a problem too with the word ‘summary’, because a synopsis can’t just be a description of the contents of the article. A summary alone is unlikely to grab attention, and so it has to be written in a way which is likely to do so. You probably spend quite a while coming up with a suitable title, at least I hope you do, since the title is the first thing almost everyone will see when they come across a link to or reference to your article. Your summary needs to have at least as much thought and time invested into it in order for it to work as hard as your title does to gain hits.
One of the best ways of making sure that your summary is effective is to write it before you write the article. The advantage of this is that you set out a clear focus for the article, including a clear question, problem or issue which you will be addressing. This not only means that your summary or synopsis is short, sharp and carries a clear purpose, but so does your article.
Ideally the first sentence of your synopsis should directly relate to whatever it is your target audience are wanting to know, to find out or to learn. This could well be a question, or a reflection on the fact that the issue is one currently gaining much attention. This helps to make sure that your potential reader is aware of the immediate relevance of your article to their problem or need. But then what?
Your second sentence should then provide them with a clear indication of the fact that the article addresses that need, and provides useful information, valuable insight, or direct answers.
Writing An Example Article Synopsis
Let’s see an example. Let’s imagine that you are writing an article about how to juggle. Your first sentence might be, “Have you always wanted to learn how to juggle balls?” Your next sentence might be, “Discover the secret to juggling in 3 easy steps.” Notice how I included the fact that the solution will be provided in a numbered set of steps or stages? This adds a great deal of credibility to your summary. Don’t imply that you’re just going to waffle on a bit about the subject. People like numbered steps or stages when learning how to do something. It’s the difference between telling someone to go to the shops and buy all the ingredients to make ratatouille, and giving them a shopping list of ingredients. People like lists, because it’s easier to remember and work through.
Adding Author Credibility In Your Article Description
Finally, it’s often helpful to include a little extra bit of information which adds personal credibility to you as the author. Perhaps you might write, “The world’s only bicycle juggling stage performer shows you how to get started in just five minutes.” You’ll see that although the article is probably written in the first person, the synopsis is more usually written in the third person. There’s no real rule on this, and opinion is very divided, but somehow the third person lends a more independent sense of credibility and authority when viewed in search results.
Finally, make sure that once you have finished writing your article you re-read your summary and make sure it really does accurately reflect the content of the article. It’s also important to make sure you thoroughly proofread your synopsis. An astonishing number of people seem to pay scant attention to their descriptions, which can seriously damage the chance that anyone will go on to read the article itself.