Writing Synopses

By Anastasia McTague

Lots of young writers have had to tangle, at some point or another, with the terrible synopsis—a means of distilling the entirety of a story into a few intriguing sentences that quickly and easily explain the plot. If you haven’t yet had to write a synopsis, you’ll likely need to do so in the future. Due to the size of many stories, condensing them into a few catchy lines is often frustrating. Hopefully the method outlined in this article will help shed some light on the synopsespostsubject, and take some of the frustration out of the activity. I call it the Expounding Method, because there are surely other ways to write a synopsis, and you shouldn’t feel limited to doing it this way. It’s just an option and a place to start.

The first step is to boil down the plot to one line.

What is the most important, most basic aspect of the plot? Who are the primary characters? What do they need to do, and how do they go about trying to do it? Play around until you get a sentence that sums up the gist of your story. As an example, let’s say the one-liner is:

A group of ancient warriors destroy Lian’s village and he sets out to stop the killing.
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