Sunday, April 28, 2013

Summary - Writing the Synopsis in 10 Steps

Writing the Synopsis:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Here's a quick recap of what we've covered over the series. 

A synopsis is a a tool used to tell someone about a story in a few pages. It's written in third person, present tense. 

Clarity rules. 

Include main characters, character goals, motivations and conflicts, the spiritual journey, and major plot points / turning points. Leave out subplots, minor characters, and most scenes that aren't major turning points in your story.

Write a quick one-sentence summary of the book using: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Parts of a Synopsis:

1. Hook
2. Main Character (Once upon a time there was ___), Setting, Set Up 
(Every day, ___), Goal, Motivation
3. Character #2, Set up, Goal, Motivation
4. Conflict between the goals established in #2 & #3.
5. Inciting Incident 
(One day___). 
6. Obstacles that are keeping the character from his or her goal and moving the story forward. (Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___.)
Black moment
8. How the characters have changed
9. Wrap up of spiritual, mystery, and/or romantic elements.
10. Satisfying resolution.

Clarity is the key, but we also want our synopsis to represent the mood and tone of the story. A simple way to do this is through word choice. Read back through your synopsis looking for places you could use phrases or words that fit whatever genre you're writing in (sweet romance, suspense, comedic, etc.) A little goes a long way. A few well placed word choices can make all the difference. Don't go overboard on this.  

Finally, ask a critique partner or fellow writer to read over the synopsis before sending it to an editor or agent. This will help you polish the synopsis and makes sure it's clear and easy to read. 

Congratulations! You now have a completed synopsis. Any questions? 


  1. Love this, Julie. I'm bookmarking it too! Thank you!

  2. Thank Julie, I'm coming back to this when I'm ready :)

  3. Thank you, ladies. I'm so glad the series has been helpful!

  4. Julie, holy COW--excellent tips here. The synopsis is always the WORST part of being a writer, I think. But this boils it down and keeps it simple. Sharing this around!

  5. This series is so dang good! I'm working on a synopsis right now, and I'm very glad to have this to refer to.

  6. I've bookmarked this post! I hate doing the sucknopsis but going through your steps makes it seem easier.