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.
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.
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.
Introduce the conflict. What happens in the story that places the hero and protagonist at a no-turning-back point?
Tell what the protagonist’s goal is and describe her motivation for achieving this goal.
Tell what the hero’s goal is and describe his motivation for achieving this goal.
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?
Describe a second turning point – how things are getting even worse, making the goals matter even more to the hero and heroine.
An old door opens. What happens that throws your hero and heroine back into their old fears/difficulties?
Describe the heroine’s dark moment and her epiphany. Perhaps her biggest fear is coming true, leading to her finally facing the truth.
Describe the hero’s dark moment and his epiphany. Perhaps his biggest fear is coming true, leading to his finally facing the truth.
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?)
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.
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