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How to Write a Novel

Step Four: The Short Synopsis

So, you have a premise, a skeleton of your story arc, and some information about your key characters. Now it's time to write a synopsis.

What is a synopsis?

A brief summary of your complete plot. All the important events should be included so the whole story is laid out bare.

How long should it be?

The short synopsis should be about a page long. That's only about 500 words, so you'll have to be brief. The synopsis is not prose, this is no place for dialogue or fancy descriptions. To begin with the synopsis can be nothing much more than a list of the events in the order they happen. While writing the short synopsis you'll probably have loads of ideas that there just isn't room to fit onto one page, that's okay. Write down just the key points and keep the rest bubbling in your mind, you'll have use for them later.

How do I get started?

The easiest way to get started on your short synopsis is to refer back to your premise and skeleton story arc. The premise statement gives you your overall direction, your synopsis is there to fill in the detail that realizes your premise. The skeleton plot arc shows the series of milestones your plot should travel through on the way. For each stage in the skeleton, you can write a paragraph that gives the detail of how that event will be shown.

For example your sentence for "Call to Action" might read:

"Ben gets a distress message from the Princess and asks Luke to journey with him to help save her but Luke says he can't leave his folks."

This would now be expanded to explain how this key event happens:

"The droid R2D2 escapes and Luke follows him out into the desert where he is attacked by sand people. Ben rescues him and they hide in Ben's cave. R2 shows Ben the message from the princess where she asks for help. Ben shows Luke the lightsaber and asks him to come with him to save the princess. Luke knows he can't leave his uncle to handle the farm alone and so says he can't go."

Notice how we're adding a lot more action as we go, filling details without getting bogged down in any particular event. The story should really start to take shape at this point, and writing the short synopsis should be a great deal of fun - let your imagination loose!

Task Four: Write your single page short synopsis.

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