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How To Use a Synopsis for Your Story Outline

So I know I’m outing myself as late to the party, but I was actually not familiar with the difference between a query letter and a one-page synopsis until I started querying.


My naivety set me back a bit, as there are some agents who require the synopsis as well as a query letter. The prospect was absolutely daunting, so I tabled it for now with Starchaser and decided to practice writing a synopsis on my next project.

Guidance aligned better than I could have hoped as a member of one of my writing groups shared a link recently that was unbelievably helpful: a page from a writing site I’d followed years ago where the brilliant Susan Dennard, author of the Truthwitch and Something Strange and Deadly series, shared a breakdown of what a synopsis ought to include. Not only did she cut it into bite sized chunks – from scene setting to inciting incident and onward, detailing the beats a story must have – but she also used Star Wars: A New Hope as an example, making it easy to see what these beats look like in action and how they can potentially appear on paper.

Not only is this sketch of the synopsis incredibly helpful for summarizing your story, but the thought occurred to me that it can work in advance of drafting as well. This week, I used Miss Dennard’s synopsis breakdown as an outline for my Shiny New Project, TCC. It helped me to pinpoint some weak spots in my plotting as well as figure out where and when emotional and plot beats need to happen. By the time I was done, I had a solid synopsis and an outline from which to build a more in-depth story.

I want to share this link with all of you today in hopes that it will help you to jot down that daunting synopsis or even to outline your story and have your synopsis complete for future querying before the drafting has even begun!

Happy writing, folks!

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