Part xiv. Writing A Synopsis for Fiction

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This part was requested by Kanaya_1113.

Seven Steps for Writing a Synopsis Using Index Cards

These seven steps are the most useful I've ever seen. Every author online raves about this process. Hopefully, it'll be just as successful for you as it has been for authors like Jane Friedman.

Step 1: Start With Plot Basics

You know that your plot is a sequence of events that proceed through several basic stages. These include:

1. The inciting incident that gets things moving, sets the protagonist on course towards his goal, etc.

2. Event(s) which illustrate opposition to the Story Goal.

3. The crisis: the decisive event or turning point that sets the story on a course for either achieving the goal or failure.

4. The resolution or the climax, which illustrates the achievement (or not) of the goal and its aftermath.

Step 2: Add the Main Character's Arc

The emotional side of the story will be expressed in part by the main character's progression through four stages as well. For instance, see if you can answer the following questions:

1. Who is your main character at the start of the story? What kind of person is he/she? What is his/her approach to life?

2. Describe how your main character is thrust into a situation where he/she is pressured to change.

3. Does your main character decide to take a leap of faith and change? Does he adopt a new approach or take some uncharacteristic action? Or does she hold true to who she is and become more entrenched in her attitude or approach?

4. At the end of the novel, is the main character better off because of the choice he/she has made? Does the reader feel he/she has done the right thing?

Step 3: Consider the Impact Character's Role

The impact character (or sometimes characters) are responsible for pressuring the main character to change, generally by giving an example of an opposingly different approach or outlook. He or she shows why and how the main character might need to change. So consider:

1. When the impact character enters the novel, how does he/she express a different approach or attitude to that of the main character?

2. How does the impact character pressure or influence the main character to either abandon his old ways or learn a new way of doing things?

3. If the main character changes at the climax of the story, the impact character typically remains fixed in his ways. On the other hand, if the main character stays the same, the impact character may be forced to change. How is this illustrated in your novel?

4. Is the impact character better or worse off at the end of the novel?

Step 4: The Major Relationship

Another aspect to a well-rounded story is the progression of the relationship between the main and impact characters. For instance, in a romance these two are usually the romantic hero and heroine. In an adventure, they could be the hero and villain, hero and mentor, etc. Regardless who these two characters are to each other, the relationship between them will also exhibit an emotional arc. You may need to consider:

1. How their relationship stands at the beginning of the story.

2. How their relationship develops or is tested in the course of the story.

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