Steps for Writing a Synopsis – An Easy-to-Follow Format

Synopsis Format

Most of the writers I talk to say that writing their synopsis is harder than writing the book.  I know the feeling!  When I wrote my first synopsis, I had no idea how I was going to take my then 100,000+ word memoir and dwindle it down into a one or two page synopsis.

Author and speaker, Katie Ganshert, suggests using a 12-paragraph template for writing a synopsis.  Use her suggestions for each paragraph, and you’ll end up with a well written, thorough synopsis of your book.

First Paragraph

Katie suggests starting your synopsis by introducing your protagonist.  Describe her in a way that will allow your reader to get to know her: what are her interests, her fears, her dreams?  Then disclose what happens to change or upset her normal life.

Second Paragraph

Next, introduce the hero and include a similar description including his beliefs, greatest fear, dreams –  and what his difficulty is.  Then disclose what happens to change or upset his normal life.

Third Paragraph

Introduce the conflict.  What happens in the story that places the hero and protagonist at a no-turning-back point?

Fourth Paragraph

Tell what the protagonist’s goal is and describe her motivation for achieving this goal.

Fifth Paragraph

Tell what the hero’s goal is and describe his motivation for achieving this goal.

Sixth Paragraph

Talk about the turning point in the story.  How do things get worse and make the goals of the hero and heroine even more important?

Seventh Paragraph

Describe a second turning point – how things are getting even worse, making the goals matter even more to the hero and heroine.

Eighth Paragraph

An old door opens.  What happens that throws your hero and heroine back into their old fears/difficulties?

Ninth Paragraph

Describe the heroine’s dark moment and her epiphany. Perhaps her biggest fear is coming true, leading to her finally facing the truth.

Tenth Paragraph

Describe the hero’s dark moment and his epiphany.  Perhaps his biggest fear is coming true, leading to his finally facing the truth.

Eleventh Paragraph

Here’s the climax.  What event or events will force the heroine and the hero to choose between two different, precise courses of action?  One will lead them to accomplishing their goals, and the other will lead to their sacrificing the goal for the sake of a principle (or love?)

Twelfth Paragraph

The Resolution. What happens as result of their decisions?

Fine Tuning Your Synopsis

Now that you have the first draft of your synopsis, it’s time to fine tune it.  Here’s a video that covers much more about the details of your synopsis that I think you’ll find extremely helpful.

Picture 128Congratulations!

Now that you’ve taken the steps to break your synopsis down in this way, I’m sure you feel far less overwhelmed by what we all know can be a super daunting task.  Good luck with getting published!

Debra Sherman, Author and Co-Founder of the Lewiston Writers’ Group

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5 thoughts on “Steps for Writing a Synopsis – An Easy-to-Follow Format”

  1. I found this to be a thorough, well-thought-out and do-able format for a synopsis. It sort of takes the nervous jitters out of the process when you know what you’re supposed to be doing.

    I do like the step-by-step instructions. Thanks! It helps to have somebody holding your hand through the thing….

    1. Absolutely, I never thought I’d ever see this information. Jitter-free now. My synopsis looks nothing like this. I used the information I read online. But nothing like this, Now I see why I have gotten so many rejections with the original one that I’m so about to trash and use these steps. How grateful I am for Lewistonwritersgroup

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