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The Dreaded(Dreadful?) Synopsis

Sunup by Dan 2019
Sunup by Dan 2019


Spent the weekend hacking through the first cut of a synopsis. Not exactly fun. I did, however, experience a wee bit of luck. I’m signed up to the PNWA email list, which shoots out writing-related messages a couple times a week. Most of these I glance at briefly, if at all, and promptly forget about. Sometimes though there’s a diamond hidden among the zircons. This weekend PNWA message contained a useful article about writing up a synopsis. What luck! I read through it and found some really great tips.

First off, the article suggests thinking of the synopsis as a movie trailer – at least in terms of setting the stage for the story: genre, setting, plot, character arcs. Of course, the magic is to detail all the major plot points, flesh out character arcs, and provide the climax and resolution in a few double-spaced pages. Not exactly easy.

I can’t claim the expert on writing synopses, but here’s my “process” to draft one.

  1. Outline the significant plot points sticking to the protagonist’s main storyline.

  2. Write a rough draft from the outline.

  3. Sprinkle in references to major subplots and important characters as appropriate.

  4. Flesh out the protagonist’s character arc.

  5. Edit.

More or less following this process allows me to knock out the synopsis fairly quickly. Right now, I feel pretty good about the one I just wrote (it still needs work, of course). Only time will tell whether it’s any good or not.


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