René Penn

Aspiring author writing about the journey.


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Writing a Novel Synopsis, a Book’s Highlight Reel

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A novel synopsis is just a 500-words-or-less summary of my book. No big deal to write, right? Wrong!

I thought that I could recycle my outline–cleaning up the scribbled, rewritten, mangled mess that it was. But it’s ain’t that easy.

Luckily, there is help. And this post on PubCrawl was the best that I found on how to write a novel synopsis. I’m talking: I read that article, dropped what I was doing, and started working on my own synopsis right away.

  • PubCrawl suggests that it’s good to thread together portions of the Hero’s Journey to craft a synopsis. Here are the 11 threads that should make up the fabric of the summary:
    • opening image
    • protagonist
    • inciting incident
    • plot point 1
    • brief conflict and character encounter(s)
    • midpoint
    • the “winning-seems-imminent, but…” moment
    • crisis moment
    • climax
    • resolution
    • final image
  • It’s a perfect approach, because it creates a synopsis that isn’t just a spew of facts. This point is described well in another post by Glen Strathy.

Strathy explains that it should not be a bare bones plot summary. “First this happens, then this happens, then this happens…” It should have the excitement and intensity of a sports article highlighting last night’s game.

  • Besides the fact that the synopsis should preferably be one page, single-spaced, written in first-person, present-tense, and include information about the protagonist and their goal, it should describe the central characters as well as their conflicts. This article details these points and provides great nuts-and-bolts information about how to format a novel synopsis.

Okay, I tried my best to follow these rules above. Here’s the synopsis that I drafted for my historical romance book The Unroyal Princess. What do you think? What changes should I make? And what tips would you like to share about writing a novel synopsis?

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