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“Therefores”…. not “Thens” in Your Synopsis

May 18, 2017

Subbing to agents or publishers often means writers have to produce the dreaded synopsis. The basics of plot premise, arc and resolution, along with character development, are the foundations of a one-two page synopsis.

But how to move it along without constantly indicating “and then…” ?

A few “thens” are probably appropriate. But “therefores” (even if not stated as such) are a good way to move plot and character development along.

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For example, take a look at the first Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone.

You could say:  Harry Potter is living with the nasty Dursleys AND THEN feels like an outsider. AND THEN learns he is a wizard. AND THEN he goes to Hogwarts to learn magic  AND THEN he fights Voldemort… etc.

Changing the “thens” to “therefores” however, will provide character reaction and growth, the key to attracting an agent and publisher.  “Therefores” also provide the opportunity to briefly expand on motivation and plot changes.

Harry Potter is living with the nasty Dursleys, whose mistreatment (THEREFORE) makes him feel like an outsider. When he learns he is a wizard, (THEREFORE) he understands why he is different.  He goes to Hogwarts to learn magic (THEREFORE) preparing him to fight Voldemort etc.

It doesn’t always work easily, but avoiding running down plot with “and thens” will help make the synopsis more interesting and more attractive to potential agents or publishers. AND THEREFORE it will show that character development is as important as plot points.



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