The 10 Paragraphs EVERY Synopsis MUST Contain
What? I have to write a synopsis for my novel? Noooo! This is the WORST thing I have EVER had to do!
Nobody likes writing synopses. But agents, and publishers, and writing organisations offering brilliant opportunities, and various writing competitions LOVE them.
Here are 10 paragraphs you could write whether or not you know exactly how your story is going to go. (ignore the EVERY and MUST in the title of this post - they're only suggestions).
Put these 10 paragraphs together, and you've got a synopsis. Remember: if at any point your not really sure what's going to happen in your story MAKE SOMETHING UP. You can always change it later.
PARAGRAPH 1: OVERVIEW This book is a (middle grade/YA/adult) (genre) novel for (this age range) people who enjoy (a laugh/ a cry/ a gut punch/ being terrified/). It is set in (this location) in (this time).
PARAGRAPH 2: PROTAGONIST Tell us about your hero. Name, age, job. Then tell us their FLAW: the internal problem that holds them back, the lie they believe about themselves. Then, if it's important, tell us their SKILL - what are they good at? Finally, what's their current situation, and why is it not not ideal? What do they WANT?
PARAGRAPH 3: INCITING INCIDENT And then, one day, the *thing* happens. The thing that starts the story. Tell us about it.
PARAGRAPH 4: THE QUEST So now your hero can see she is going to have to travel *here*, and *get* this and do *this*, in order to achieve the goal that is enticing her through the story. Tell us about the goal and the journey that faces your hero.
PARAGRAPH 5 & 6: A COUPLE OF PLOTTY PARAGRAPHS Describe a couple of EXCITING incidents from the first half of your story. Your hero faces their first obstacle. They do THIS. But because of that, THIS happens! Which means our hero must do THIS! But that means THIS happens. Which gives our hero THIS knowledge. But then...
PARAGRAPH 7: MIDPOINT CRISIS It all goes wrong in THIS specific way. It looks bad! But your hero learns THIS about the situation, and THIS about herself, and this about her antagonist, and armed with this knowledge she sets off to do THIS.
PARAGRAPH 8: TOWARDS THE CLIMAX In a paragraph, write a concise list of obstacles facing our hero. Now your hero must battle obstuctive THIS, evil THIS and despicable SOMETHING ELSE and by using their SKILL from P2 – they ACHIEVE THE END OF ACT 2 – and arrive at the gates of their goal.
PARAGRAPH 9: CLIMAX Once here they do the thing they do to win, while also OVERCOMING THE FLAW YOU MENTION IN P2. Your hero also possibly realises that what she wanted in P2 is different to what she needed to get to this point. And after winning DESCRIBE THE NEW STATUS QUO
PARAGRAPH 10: THEME MY TITLE is a funny/ scary/ romantic/ sexy/ annoying story/ adventure/ thrill-ride about STATE YOUR THEME AND WHY IT’S TOPICAL OR RELEVANT.