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I’ve been thinking about the synopsis and the enormity of smashing my 87,000 word manuscript into a one page document. While the synopsis plan was on a slow burn in the back of my mind, I had a great idea for the beginning of my second novel. I was also in love with Hélène Boudreau’s post on Plotting OCD Style. My idea was a great opportunity to work with Hélène’s typical story flow headings that begin with an Inciting Incident.
As I’m typing away, thoroughly enjoying using the Document Map to work through my Inciting Incident, I thought about how great this very concept would work in writing a synopsis. Think about breaking your novel down to its most basic elements and you have Ms. Boudreau’s headings.
Start your synopsis with the introduction of the protagonist and antagonist, then quickly move to what Ms. Boudreau calls the “Inciting Incident (or the big problem)” and write a couple of sentences about that. The Inciting Incident will correspond to Act I for those who use the three act novel structure.
Act two will begin with Plot Point 1, which will be your protagonist’s first obstacle. Devote a few sentences to Plot Point 2, which is your protagonist’s second obstacle, then take the synopsis to Plot Point 3, the third obstacle where “the situation is about as bad as it can get.”
Now you’ve reached Climax A where you spend can spend a sentence or two “lighting the fuse” for the action that is to follow. Climax A is where you spend just a little time in your synopsis creating the tension before you move to Climax B then to Climax C.
The final paragraph of the synopsis will contain the third act or in keeping with Ms. Boudreau headings, the Denouement and Resolution of the novel.
By using Ms. Boudreau’s headings, you can break your novel down to the most essential elements or plot points. This is the information you want to convey to an agent or editor about your novel.
A few points to remember when writing your synopsis:
- The first time a character’s name is mentioned, it should be in all caps;
- Mention only the major characters in the synopsis;
- Use either Times New Roman or Courier New 12 point font;
- Double space the synopsis;
- Don’t use flowery phrases or try to make your synopsis as nuanced as your novel. You just want to convey two things to an agent or editor: 1) you can write clear, concise paragraphs, and 2) you know what your novel is about.
I have a few links on another post I wrote on Writing the Novel Synopsis. I think I’m going to use Ms. Boudreau’s OCD plotting style to break my novel into synopsis form. How are you going reduce your novel into synopsis form?