Here’s another example of a fiction summary, which can be used as a guide for writing your novel synopsis. (See all my synopsis examples here.) This time it’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In book terms, this would be considered fun YA (maybe even a “boy book”). I’ve tried to break up the synopsis below into the three acts of the movie, with the first two paragraphs being Act I, then the next one Act II, then the next one Act III, and the final one is the resolution (denouement?). We get a few quotes to spice it up and the whole thing moves nice and quick. Remember, synopses are designed to show the three acts of the story, not the skill of your prose.
Two best friends, BILL and TED, are fun-loving Valley boys who’d rather rock out than study. Their lives revolve around their band, “Wyld Stallyns,” despite the fact that they are mediocre musicians at best. As senior year winds down, the two are on course to fail history class, and, as a result, flunk out of school. They brainstorm ideas for their final history report (due tomorrow!) but come up blank. TED’S FATHER, a strict police captain, tells Ted that failing school means enrolling in an Alaskan military academy, effectively ending any dreams of forming a band.
That night, while in a convenience store parking lot, a flying phone booth drops out of the sky miraculously. A strangely-dressed man introducing himself as RUFUS steps out of the phone booth and explains that he is from the future and here to help the boys with their report. Frightened and skeptical (“Dude … strange things are afoot at the Circle K”), Bill and Ted are only convinced after a second flying phone booth lands, and from it steps future versions of themselves, who implore them to trust Rufus’s judgment. Rufus reveals that the phone booths are time machines that can travel to anywhere at any time. He takes the pair to 1805 and shows them Napoleon in battle. When Rufus brings the teens back to present-day California, Napoleon is inadvertently dragged along. This gives the boys an idea: To pass their exam, they will kidnap historical figures and have them explain what they think of the present.
Rufus departs, leaving the boys with a booth of their own. Bill and Ted set off into the past. They survive a Wild West gunfight to nab Billy the Kid then visit ancient Greece to rope in Socrates (whose name they constantly mispronounce)—but the pair run into trouble in medieval Europe. Smitten with two princesses who are betrothed to “royal ugly dudes,” Bill and Ted sneak into a castle and meet the girls, but are captured and set for execution. Only a rescue by Billy the Kid and Socrates saves them. Bill and Ted quickly continue their time-traveling adventure, picking up Sigmund Freud, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, and Beethoven. They also accidentally travel to the far future (where they are unexpectedly recognized) then stop back at the Circle K and end up on other side of the original conversation with themselves. They then successfully return to their present timeline.
With mere hours left before the report, Bill and Ted find Napoleon but discover that all their historical figures were arrested by Ted’s father after causing chaos in a shopping mall. Bill and Ted free the prisoners. Arriving with no time to spare, the boys give their report and everything is an extraordinary success. The two pass history and Ted stays in California.
In the summer, playing the same chords in the same garage as always, the boys finally decide to get focused and become better musicians. Rufus unexpectedly shows up, and explains how the music of Wyld Stallyns will, in the future, serve as the core of the world’s Utopian society. That’s why it was imperative the two remain together as friends and bandmates. Rufus leaves the boys with two more surprises: new guitars, and the medieval princesses, as they, too, are destined to be part of Wyld Stallyns.
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Don’t let your synopsis be rejected for
improper formatting. The third edition of
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Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- How to Write a Synopsis When You Have Lots of Characters.
- Synopsis Example: “Witness” (literary fiction)
- Synopsis Example: “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (young adult fiction)
- Synopsis Example: “Gladiator” (historical fiction)
- Does Our Author Appearance Matter?
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.