Step 11: How to Write a Synopsis

Before your begin a story, you should have your physical, emotional and spiritual plots — the threads of a  great story! Now it’s time to weave it all together into a cohesive piece.

A synopsis is nothing more than a summary of your story. A premise + story line.

A good synopsis starts out with a hook, the premise of the book.  Then, it outlines the character’s deepest desires, and what is at stake in the story. What are they after, and why? And what is God going to teach them? What are their motivations for these desires? And what is their conflict?

Then move the story through the obstacles. Highlight some of the things that your
character will struggle with, spiritually and emotionally. Use the physical plot points to jump from paragraph to paragraph, alternating the main povs (points of view), if there is more than one.

A synopsis is supposed to be an OVERVIEW of the story. One mistake I see in young writers is the tendency to narrow in on the details. You want to step back from the story and squint a little and tell us the big events you see, and how they affect the spiritual and emotional threads. Don’t tell us how the hero stops and caresses her hand as he declares his love. Just say he declares his love. Details slow the pace and will make the editor put the synopsis down. You don’t want this to happen.

Hook your editor and bring them through the story, holding their breath, until you end with the theme verse.

On the first past, don’t worry about length, or style, just spit it out. The first pass, you’re not looking for polished piece, rather thoroughness. All the threads winding through the story. Then, go through and hone it to 3-5 pages.

If you are writing a Chapter by Chapter  summary, it is similar to a synopsis in that it has Desires, Obstacles and Conflicts, but simply breaks them apart for each chapter. Often I write both – even if my publisher only asks for a synopsis. I find the Chapter by Chapter summary serves as a roadmap for my book, and when I sit down to write it, I have a jump start on my creativity for that chapter. A synopsis is more entertaining, I think, and a good way to introduce your writing style to your editor. But a Ch by Ch Summary is more detailed, and proves you have your plot figured out. My suggestion: try writing both!

Two things to keep in mind when you’re writing a synopsis:
1. Don’t keep the editor in suspense.  Spell it out.  Tell them what happens, and why, and most importantly, why it’s important.
2. Tell the story using engaging, interesting prose that gives the editor a glimpse of your voice.

Writing a synopsis is skill different from writing a novel, but one all novelists have to hone!

After you write your synopsis, Step 12 will give you a hint on how to find an Agent!



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