Okay, so I’ve finished my YA novel. My critique group is reading my newest revisions and I’m ready to tackle the ever-daunting SYNOPSIS!
I actually submitted the first 15 pages of this novel to an editor for a paid critique at a recent SCBWI conference and she said based on the passages she would have asked for more. YAY!
But after reading the synopsis, she changed her mind. OH NO!
That means I have to write a new synopsis. For as easily as the words come to me when I’m writing and creating characters, setting and plots, for the life of me, I can’t sculpt the story down to a well-defined SYNOPSIS!
So here goes: a step-by-step process that should help me and if you’re reading this blog, and I hope you are, you too!
And now for the Synopsis equation—
% of events in the book = % of events in the synopsis
MANUSCRIPT OPENING SCENE
The opening scene—introduces MC and hooks the reader.
SYNOPSIS OPENING PARAGRAPH
One paragraph to understand the character and his/her abilities.
INCITING EVENT SCENE
The trigger—sets the story in motion. Query hook is based on this!
SYNOPSIS SECOND PARAGRAPH
Covers the trigger and why it matters.
ACT ONE – CRISIS SCENE
Events go wrong. MC discovers problem. Solutions presented.
ACT ONE - SYNOPSIS PARAGRAPHS
Two paragraphs on sequence of events and story’s escalation.
ACT TWO – REVELATION SCENE
A secret is revealed. MC is in deep trouble, but has no choice but to
go on—or else!
ACT TWO SYNOPSIS PARAGRAPH
One paragraph that shows MC’s predicament and ups the stakes for the MC again. Tells reasons why.
Story takes a detour and suddenly changes direction.
MID-POiNT REVERSAL SYNOPSIS PARAGRAPH
One paragraph that sums up the twist that causes the MC to act in a
way he/she never thought they could.
ACT THREE DISASTER
Race to the climax. Circumstances are bad. Stakes raised to a higher level.
ACT THREE DISASTER SYNOPSIS
One paragraph to show stakes raised to a higher level and how it fails.
Final showdown with villain. MC wins by a surprising ploy.
CLIMAX PARAGRAPGH FOR SYNOPSIS
Two paragraphs to sum up a solid ending.
What the MC will do now that they’ve saved the day.
WRAP UP PARAGRAPGH FOR SYNOPSIS
One paragraph that ties up all loose ends
First get it all down, then start tweaking. Every sentence needs to be tight.
Once you're done, find someone you trust who knows nothing about the story and have them read it.
Capitalize character names the first time they are used.