At some point between starting a story or novel and publishing, you will need to write a synopsis. It can be a great tool in keeping you on track with your writing. Most literary agents, publishers and even writing contests will require a synopsis along with a few sample chapters of your writing with your submission.

A synopsis is a brief outline of the basic plotline of your story. It differs from your story or novel in that it covers the brief and precise outline of the characters and major plot points of the story, and not all the small details.

When writing a story or novel, a writer is taught to “show don’t tell.” However, when writing the synopsis the reverse is true, “tell don’t show.”

When starting a synopsis, write a theme statement to help guide your thoughts. What is the main theme that defines your story?

Next, answer the following questions telling the reader the answers. Remember “tell don’t show” in the synopsis.

1. Who is the protagonist in the story?

2. What are his or her personality traits? List strengths or weaknesses.

3. What other characters surround the protagonist?

4. What is protagonist’s major conflict?

5. How does he or she solve the conflict?

6. What hindrances stand in the way of accomplishing the goal?

7. How is each obstacle conquered, or is it?

8. What is the climax of the story?

9. How does the story end?

10. What change takes place in your protagonist?

Rory C. Keel


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