Stary Writing Academy: A Guide for New Writers to Design Synopsis

Ace Author Club
4 min readMay 28, 2021

Is the synopsis important to a story? For most mature writers, the answer is “YES.” Because the Synopsis is the fiction’s frame; The Synopsis will help writers comb through their thoughts. Although writing is a creative process, every story still needs a logical and well-structured synopsis. During the writing process, a synopsis likes a landmark. Writers can use it to ensure they do not steer away from their path.

For most armature writers, they might not have a complete understanding of this concept. When they write, they might pass this step, not only because they do not know the importance of the Synopsis but also because they do not understand how to do it.

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However, designing a synopsis is complicated. We can summarize the process into three basic stages, 1) determining the main plots, 2) determining the secondary plots, and 3) applying a proper structure to the Synopsis.

Before talking about these stages at length, we should have a clear idea about “What is the plot?” The word “Plot” has multiple definitions, one of which is “The structured events that are significant and changeable, which arouse people’s interest and suspense, in accordance with certain ordered events.” This sentence shows the essence of stories — stories comprise one event happening after another.

Let us focus on three keywords, Events, Order, and Change. When writing a synopsis, we can exchange these words into three questions:

  • What significant events happen in your story?
  • What is the order of events?
  • How do these events influence (change) your characters and the general storyline?
The Keywords of Plots

You can think about the key events in your novel, such as critical turning events and twists with these questions. Then you can use these events to arrange the main plot.

1. Determining the Main Plots

We can divide a story into four simple parts, a beginning, development, climax, and an ending. From these parts, they will require approximately six to eight main plots. At this stage, you should just focus on the significant conflicts in the plot. Depending on the length of your story, each of the main plots may need multiple chapters to write.

  • To complete the main plots, you can follow the thread below:
  • What initial challenges will the protagonists face in the beginning?
  • How do the protagonists meet?
  • How does the relationship between the protagonists change?
  • What conflicts or controversies do the villains have with the protagonists?
  • How do the villains create problems for the protagonists?
  • How will the protagonists change?
  • What is the ending for the protagonists?

These questions cover the entire development process of the protagonists. When you finish this part, you have the bone of your stories. What you should do next is to fill in details with the secondary plots.

What’s Main Plot?

2. Determining the Secondary Plots

Main plots are drafts of drawings that portray the shape of the frame, while secondary plots are the colors that add vivid details to the pictures. Regarding secondary plots, there are three keywords — Scene, Action, and Conflict.

Scene setting is the core thing to consider when writing secondary plots. Writers do not compose a book from words, sentences, or paragraphs. Instead, they are composed of scenes that have been set. Scenes relate to events that are happening in the present, showing when change is about to happen. Different locations can affect readers’ expectations and give them something to look forward to. For example, a policeman tracks a fugitive into a dark and silent alley. The readers will be curious about the coming danger.

Actions are divided into Character Actions (Dialogues and Movements) and Non-Character Actions (Movements of objects/animals and Change in the natural environment). A good synopsis should be clear about who does what. Conflicts are the engine that drives a story’s development. With conflicts, characters can develop and change. When creating conflict, please pay attention to the characters’ motivations behind their actions.

Keywords of Secondary Plots

3. Applying a Proper Structure to the Synopsis

A good synopsis has not only good plots but also needs a magnificent structure to organize the plots. A qualified structure should alternate between Ups and Downs with reasonable structural segments. There is a most classical structure, The Three-Act Story Structure.

This structure comprises Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. The role of Setup is to introduce the chief characters, reveal a snapshot of the fictional world, and introduce the initial conflicts. Meanwhile, in the part of Confrontation, you can describe the changes and contradictions that occur within your characters.

Finally, all conflicts should be resolved, and all the questions should be answered in the third act — Confrontation. At the end of the story, the characters should have shown growth and maturity, justice should but not always triumph over evil, and love should overcome all obstacles.

You can try other structures to arrange your plots. Whatever structures you use, note that plots are the soul in a story. As Aristotle said, “plot is essential to tragedy. Character is second to plot.” This mean is also practicable in today’s fiction.