Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to Write A Synopsis for Your Novel


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.

MID-POINT REVERSAL

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.

CLIMAX

Final showdown with villain. MC wins by a surprising ploy.       

CLIMAX PARAGRAPGH FOR SYNOPSIS

Two paragraphs to sum up a solid ending.

WRAP UP

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.


2 comments:

  1. Hi, Gayle! Just wanted to pop in and say congrats on winning a first-page critique in The Bookshelf Muse's contest! If you could send me a message at becca.puglisi@yahoo.com, I'll send you the details. Congrats!

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