How Do You Generally Plan A Story? Sample of Synopsis/Breakdown for a Story

Everyone works in different ways when they are planning to write stories, being short works, or longer novels. In my case, I find that it is generally easier for me to spill out all the ideas I have for a work on the page, including every little detail that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if some of the ideas don’t seem to gel after I get closer to it – that’s okay, and very normal.

I find that I may omit, or amend, many of the details I first wrote as sometimes they do not fit the vision of the story I have as it evolves. If the story seems to be more intricate than I first thought, as for a longer work, I do a breakdown of the important events in the story to make it clearer to me.

Below I have an example of a short story, entitled MONICA’S REVENGE, which I created several days ago. I have used it as a sample to illustrate how I normally plan a story. While it may seem a little disjointed and have loose ends, this is because it has had no editing – it’s all come straight from my mind, to the page. And, now back to our original question for the post – How do you generally plan a story?


 “Monica had a choice to make – and it was an extremely difficult one. Monica and her husband, Kale, had a large diner in the center of the city, which was prosperous and which she loved to work in. The only problem which she had, and this was big one, was that she worked alongside her husband’s sister, Joanne, who was a boorish woman who would utilize any opportunity she had to belittle her. Adding to this, was the fact that Janice’s equally oily, smarmy husband, Evan, also worked alongside both herself and Kale. Monica also had to contend to the fact that her husband had a major blind spot when it came to both his sister and her husband, which stemmed from a deep love for her.

If, for example, Monica said white, Janice and Evan would say black, and Kale would back them up. Monica felt trapped by her circumstances, and did not know where to turn. She really wanted to eject Janice and Evan from the business, but Kale would not listen to her; he told her that she was wrong about them, but to have patience, as he wanted a roof over the heads of Janice and Evan’s children, who could not be classified as being the perfect parents.

After a particularly nasty attack from Janice in the diner’s back room, Monica knew, then and there, that she could not carry on any longer with this situation, working alongside her in-laws. Kale was not going to change his mind about them, or open it up any day soon, and, Monica knew that she had to do something to rectify this situation for herself, and her husband, but did not know how to go about this. She wrestled with this notion for days, but, still could not come up with anything. One day, though, everything changed for Monica.

Monica spotted Janice and Evan rifling through the cash drawer of the diner’s cash register one day, but, they did not see her. Suddenly, an idea beckoned to Monica about how she could now handle the situation with her in-laws, and smiled thoughtfully. One day, when she was alone in the diner, Monica had the diner set up for security cameras in every part of the diner by a security expert, as she now had a plan – to rid herself of Janice and Evan – forever.

One day, Janice and Evan were helping themselves to the proceeds of the cash drawer, something which Monica discovered that they were doing regularly. So much for them being employees of her and Kale – they were helping themselves to the spoils of her, and Kale’s hard work! What they were unaware was that they were being videotaped by Monica – who now had enough evidence against them to expel them permanently from her and Kale’s diner. Monica was now in a position to make her dreams come true, and rid herself of these toxic in-laws.

Monica started to be a lot more friendly towards Janice and Evan, who found her behavior unnerving. Kale was pleased that Monica was seemingly getting on better with both Janice and Evan, and knew that she would come around eventually. Monica joked that she would come around eventually, all right – but had, Kale not understanding what she really meant.

At the diner one day, Janice and Evan asked Monica why she was being so nice to them, and what was really going on. Monica said that they will have no choice but to be nice to her from now on, to their confusion. She said that she knows that Janice and Evan were helpiing themselves to her and Kale’s money, and that this would stop today. They laughed at her, and said that she has no proof. Monica, in turn, laughed, and walked over to her laptop on the table, and showed them their misdeeds, caught on camera. They said that she could not do that, and that Kale would never believe her. Monica said that if they did not leave from their work right now, she would show Kale, and, apart from this, take this video evidence to the police.

Janice and Evan had no choice but to submit to Monica’s request, and leave the cdiner. They asked what Monica would tell Kale, and she replied that she would notify him that they found work elsewhere, and had to leave immediately.With their tails tucked between their legs, Janice and Evan left Kale and Monica’s diner forever, and she, and Kale never heard from them ever again.”


2 thoughts on “How Do You Generally Plan A Story? Sample of Synopsis/Breakdown for a Story

  1. I’m surprised no-one else has yet left a reply, as this is such an interesting/vital subject for writers! That being the case, please allow me a start filling the void.

    I find my own process for writing a story varies widely, depending on my mood and familiarity with the subject. Also, if the story strikes me as being one that is quite involved or difficult to tell then that poses further challenges as well. Overall, I like your approach–to just start writing and try to get as much down as I can as quickly as possible. Some of my most enjoyable writing experiences have resulted from doing so. And I am sometimes quite pleasantly surprised to see where such a free-flow of creative energy takes me. Other times, though, I find the process of beginning a story mentally quite taxing as I wrestle with the elements of a story that seems quite daunting to tackle. I had such an experience with a rather long short story of mine entitled That Day which deals with the destruction of the twin towers and the emotional aftermath of 9/11, as told from the point of view of one quite intimately connected to the event, before and after. And even some years after, I found my own feelings still a little too tender to fully examine. So… it took me quite awhile to figure out how to even approach this story.

    I had the germ of an idea that kept turning over and over in my mind. And I had the vague impression of an opening scene, involving a woman in bed half asleep–and half dreaming– touching a ring with her thumbnail as she wakes. Actually, my first impulse was to write a screenplay, but as I do not know enough about that form to feel competent to do so, I decided to write the story as a way to approach the form I felt, and still do feel, is best for this subject–a movie. Consciously or not, that prior impulse caused me to deal with the subject from a cinematic perspective, a perspective that in a complimentary way (I hope) informs the story.

    Another thing that helped immensely and ended up being integral to the story was the soundtrack to this literary movie that kept running in my head. This music came from a CD titled White Lily Lies by Natalie Imbruglia, the most important selection of which was the opening song, which also fortuitously gave me a perfect title for my story.

    Sorry to go on at such length. I hope this isn’t too much information about something that is too inconsequential to matter.

  2. Thank you very much for your comments, which are fascinating to read. No, not at all, you haven’t provided too much information – I believe that if we expound more about these aspects of writing and the process of writing, it will help us to gain even more of an insight into writing, and how we can help ourselves, and other writers, in the creative process. Thank you again for your great insights!

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