Recipe for a Successful Synopsis

I’ve heard writing a synopsis is one of the hardest projects a writer can take upon themselves. I’ve been successful with my method, selling over twenty books using only a synopsis. Writing a book that already has a home is a wonderful thing.

Here is my recipe.

Recipe for a successful synopsis



  • Introduce your protagonist or your lead character. Give that character Goals for his or her life and goals for this story. Give your lead motivation—the reason he or she behaves as they do – and the backstory that made them who and what they are.


  • Label your lead character’s inner and outer conflict – If it’s romance, the basic reason she and the hero can’t fall in love and get married on page 2. For example: Katy will never be able to love Matt until she truly believes that he loves her enough to accept all of her responsibilities as his. Katy has to learn that her burdens aren’t as onerous as she thinks. She needs to learn from Matt to set herself free of her self-imposed restrictions, restrictions that exist only in her mind. Katy’s outer conflict is dealing with her klutz problem and the resulting sprained ankle. Yadayadayada . . .


  • Introduce your secondary lead as you did your lead.


  • If it’s a romance, label their conflict. Before Matt Jeffers can love Katy he has to change from the pleasure loving playboy into a family man. This change can’t come about until he realizes that one of God’s greatest gifts to human beings is their family. Katy and her family will teach him this. Matt’s outer conflict is learning to deal with Katy’s life a complete culture shock for bachelor Matt.


  • Introduce any important characters such as the antagonist, the bad guy. Make sure he or she has motivation for all their actions, a goal for his life and a goal for the story and the necessary backstory.


  • Introduce any secondary characters critical for the plot.


  • Brief outline of your story including all the major turning points.


  • Statement of conclusion—how you resolved their conflicts, what your characters learned and how they changed.


Always include the ending. There’s nothing an editor dislikes more than having an author give some cute little note saying, you have to read the book to find out. They read your synopsis. Feel privileged and tell them the ending.

Author: Janet Post

I’m the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel. I lived the military life until I got out of high school. At that point I was a wild child. I got married and moved to Canada where I lived up the Sechelt Inlet, the scene for Spellcast Waters. I lived in a log cabin, with wood heat and a wood cook stove fifteen miles by boat from the nearest town. I’ve moved a lot. Between the military upbringing and just rambling around the country, I’ve moved 40 times. I lived in Hawaii and worked as a polo groom for fifteen years, then I moved to Florida where I became a reporter. For ten years I covered kids in high school and middle school. Kids as athletes, kids doing amazing things no matter how hard their circumstances. It impressed me, and it awed me. How wonderful teens are. They have spirit and courage in the face of the roughest time of their lives. High school is a war zone. Between dodging bullies, school work and after school activities, teens now days have a lot on their plate. I wrote stories about them and I photographed them. My goal was to see every kid in their local newspaper before they graduated. I love kids, horses and I paint, and I write. Now I live in the swampland of Florida with too many dogs and my fifteen-year old granddaughter. Life is beautiful. Live in the moment.

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