Tag Archives: Novel Synopsis

Here are notes I took while in a PNWA seminar by Jason Black.
He’s a great teacher. I recommend taking this course, checking out his editing services, or taking other courses by Jason.

Essential 6 Ingredients:

1) Setting & Genre
2) Major Characters (Names or role-title)
3) Central Conflict / Major Goals
4) Major Plot Events / Turning Points (Inciting Incidents)
5) Character Arc Elements (Changed Characters)
6) Resolution (end of the story) goals met or not

Leave Out:

1) Over-specification of the setting / genre
2) Supporting characters & bit players
3) Secondary conflicts & goals
4) sub-plots and minor complications (focus on net result)
5) Over-specification of the resolution

Structure of a synopsis:

Synopsis mirrors your story, Keep it chronological, Minimize Back story

1) Immediate impressions
An enticing image, setting or concept to grab attention

2) The protagonist
Who and what’s their dream

3) Inciting Incident
What event, decision, or change forces the main character to take action

4) No turning back
Action or decision which changes the story’s direction. Protagonist is all in.

5) Conflicts, characters experiences
Who do we meet and what happens leading to…

6) Midpoint
What event forces the MC to do an about-face on an attitude, emotion, goal etc.

7) Final Crisis and despair (something unexpected)
What near-success is thwarted, or unexpected crisis occurs, making victory seem   impossible

8) Climax
What happens in the final confrontation

9) Denouement
MC’s fate; how does he/she re-orient towards the next phase of their life. Tie up loose ends.


Gir and I have been bad about keeping up with the Reader today. But, we've been good because we finished a second draft of the novel synopsis. It has been a great experience. Thanks for all the encouragement and suggestions. I found some notes from another seminar I attended specifically about writing a synopsis. I'll post those notes tomorrow. They were helpful. Say good night Gir. "Gooood nighht Gir."

I sifted through many search results and picked three that were the most helpful for me.

This first one was the best. It is the source of the information I’ve quoted below. The author is unnamed.

“What is the standard format for a novel synopsis?

  1. Word Count: 500-1000 words (approximately 2-3 pages)
  2. Spacing: One-page synposis: single-spaced with breaks between paragraphs, one-inch margins. Two-pages or more: double-spaced, one-inch margins.
  3. Tone: Regardless of the tense and point of view of your novel, your synopsis should always be written in third-person, present tense.
  4. Font: Times New Roman, 12-point font
  5. Page Numbers: upper right-hand corner
  6. Header: Last name and book title in upper left-hand corner. Steinbeck/Grapes of Wrath
  7. Content: Describe the main conflicts and plot points as they occur chronologically throughout the book. Introduce main characters and describe how their relationships grow, evolve, or dissolve from beginning to the end.
  8. Ending: This isn’t a movie trailer. Reveal the whole plot; do not finish with a “teaser” or “cliffhanger” ending”

This one by the esteemed author Jane Friedman is also good, and comes with a link to a recording of previous webinar $79.

The third is shorter, but also a good source. The wirter is Courtney Carpenter.

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