Synopsizing Part 2: From Magnificent Manuscript to Sparkling Summary In 4 Steps


Aw, geez. That was no fun at all–no crying, no whimpering–not even a flinch. You guys are all toughened up and stuff. Might as well get to it…


  1. Flip through your manuscript and jot down a sentence or two summary for each chapter. Yes, just one or two sentences. Geez. If you can’t summarize each chapter into one or two sentences, how the heck are you gonna write a synopsissy?
  2. Go back and highlight the sentences that tell the plot in the most minimal fashion.(“JACK went up the hill, got hurt, and sought medical attention.”)
  3. At this point, consider yourself a gate keeper. What characters, plot points and details do you allow back into your synopsinical to show the main character’s motivation, story arc, and character growth? How do you show the overarching theme? (“JACK and JILL went up the hill for a pail of water, they both got hurt, Jack sought medical attention.”)
  4. Now you have the sentences you want to work with. Put them together in the voice or tone of the novel, but in third person present tense, no matter what person and tense your manuscript is written in. Condense. Make sure you show motivations, consequences. And yes, the ending. (“JACK shows his true colors when he abandons JILL to die alone after they both sustain serious injuries in a water-gathering incident.”)

Notice in the last example that I didn’t tell the facts of the Jack and Jill plot in chronological order. You don’t have to! It’s a synapses! I didn’t mention Dame Dob, that it was Jack’s nob that was injured or that it was patched with vinegar and brown paper. I DID tell the synopsneeze reader the MEANING of the incident, what it showed about Jack’s character.

Synopsizzles are a pain in the rear. Everyone concedes that, even agents/editors. BUT if you can pull off writing a synopticle that’s fun to read…


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