Despite my lack of love for the synopsis, every novelist who writes for publication needs to know how to write one, and how to write one well.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been spinning two potential story ideas through my brain. In order to flesh them out, I decided I would write the premise, back cover blurb, and a synopsis for each of the two ideas. I was floundering with my first synopsis. Until last week.
Stories have structure. At least they should. So I took a hodgepodge of structure points from Jim Bell’s book, Plot and Structure, Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck’s blog, My Book Therapy, and Dwight Swain’s book, Techniques for the Selling Writer, and used these points to create a synopsis template.
After I created the template, writing the synopsis got a whole lot easier.
Here it is, for you to use if you’d like. Keep in mind, I write romance. Also keep in mind, that while every story has a structure, it is not this rigid thing. You’re allowed to move around the paragraphs to best fit your story. I find that paragraphs nine through eleven are particularly fluid.
Synopsis Template for Romance:
Introduce the heroine (include the lie she believes, her greatest fear, and/or her greatest dream) and her disturbance. What event interrupts the status quo of her normal life?
Introduce the hero (include the lie he believes, his greatest fear, and/or his greatest dream) and his disturbance. What event interrupts the status quo of his normal life?
The first doorway. What hurls hero and heroine into the story to the point where they can’t turn back?
Heroine’s statement of story goal and her motivation for the goal
Hero’s statement of story goal and his motivation for the goal
Turning point. How do things get worse and how does the goal matter even more for hero or heroine?
Another turning point. How do things get even worse and how does the goal matter even more for the hero or heroine?
Second doorway. What is the catalyst that hurls hero and heroine into their black moments?
Heroine’s black moment and epiphany. The point where the lie she believes is overwhelming, her biggest fear comes true, which leads to her discovery of the truth (freedom from the lie).
Hero’s black moment and epiphany. The point where the lie he believes is overwhelming, his biggest fear comes true, which leads to his discovery of the truth (freedom from the lie).
The climax. What situation will force hero or heroine to choose between two concrete, alternative, irrevocable courses of action? One way leads to hero or heroine accomplishing his/her goal. The other leads to hero or heroine sacrificing goal for the sake of love and/or principle.
The Resolution. What results because of the hero or heroine’s choice? Since I write romance, this typically involves a kiss and a profession of love.
And there you have it. Twelve paragraphs to sum up an entire novel. I hope you find it useful!
Questions to Ponder: How do you feel about writing synopses? Do you write them before your write the novel or after? What’s the best tip you’ve ever received when it comes to writing one?removetweetmeme