PLAN YOUR NOVEL TIP #2: Write Your Story Synopsis by Beth Barany



Today is the second in a 7-post series on planning your novel. In today’s post, we focus on writing your story synopsis for your novel preparation. 

A synopsis is a short summary of your book.

In the planning stages, a synopsis can help you think through the beginning, middle, and end of your story. I like to draft the story synopsis as a way to think about the inner and outer changes for my two main characters.

Tip: If you do plan to pitch your story to a literary agent, you’ll need a synopsis. Once your novel is polished, you can come back to your draft synopsis to edit or use for inspiration.

I have a cool tool to share with you, called a “Plot Spinner,” designed by the award-winning romance author, Patricia Simpson. She built this tool, based on an exercise by writing teacher, Alicia Rasley.

Keep in mind: Take note of your genre. This will give you a general ideal of your story ending.

Action: Go here to use the Plot Spinner.

Time to budget: I recommend you take 30-60 minutes to do this exercise.

You can also use this outline and do the Plot Spinner by hand. Here’s the structure and an example by novelist, Patricia Simpson:

  1. One sentence summary paragraph (like a movie listing on TV)
  2. What issue you are exploring. Mine was: trust
  3. Premise. The idea you want to prove or disprove by the end of the story.
    “You can never go home again.”
    “There IS a such a thing as love at first sight.”
    “To find a sense of home, sometimes you have to leave it.”
  4. Simplify your basic story (from Alicia Rasley’s class) by writing ONE sentence for each of these (keeping your issue in mind):

Heroine’s external struggle because of issue:
a. At the beginning. (Divorce, caused by lack of intimacy, has
caused loss of house.)
b. In the middle (Tatiana is kidnapped when she trusts villain.)
c. At the end (Tatiana must trust Ren to find treasure to get
house back.)

Heroine’s internal struggle with issue:
d. At the beginning (Tatiana doesn’t trust men.)
e. In the middle (Tatiana finds out Ren is using her to break
f. At the end (Tatiana learns she has to trust herself FIRST before
she can trust men.)

Hero’s external struggle with issue:
g. At the beginning. (Ren has to woo a woman to break the spell.)
h. In the middle (Ren realizes he will probably die before he seduces Tatiana.)
i. At the end (Ren chooses death to help Tatiana save her home.)

Hero’s internal struggle:
j. At the beginning (Women are to be revered or bedded, not
k. In the middle (Ren is confused about his growing
admiration & lust for Tatiana.)
l. At the end (Ren gets to know and trust a woman for the first
time in his life)

H&H interaction:
m. At the beginning (Against his better judgment, Ren offers his
services to Tatiana.)
n. In the middle (Just when she is softening toward him, she finds
out why he is wooing her.)
o. At the end (Tatiana must trust Ren implicitly to save the

  1. Now take the above sentences and arrange them like this:
    a, d, g, j, m
    b, e, h, k, n
    c, f, I, l, o

PRESTO! CHANGO! You should have the basic path of your story in 15

String them together with modifying phrases to make sense. But until you
have your sentences in 4, DON’T write the synopsis!!!

*Typed up by Author (and Programmer), Patricia Simpson, adapted from a workshop by Author and Teacher, Alicia Rasley [link to:].