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 Flight of the Navigator. In book terms, this would be considered fun middle grade, considering the protagonist is 12. More specifically, it would probably be a science fiction adventure. Concerning this synopsis, I cut all out mentions that Max's home planet was called Phaelon. I cut all info about how the craft could fly at high speeds. I left in one little moment about the freefall, because I felt it showed David's arc in taking control of the situation after starting as a guinea pig at NASA. I had to lose a lot of specifics about how Max got stuck on Earth and what exactly he did with David's brain. You're starting to see a pattern here - cut, combine, cut, combine, cut. Smooth and fast—that's how a short synopsis has to look.
Twelve-year-old DAVID FREEMAN is trekking through the woods when he falls into a ravine and blacks out. Waking later, David heads home only to find an older couple in his house and no visible trace of his parents or brother. Police arrive, and David’s statements are met with puzzlement. His parents are located in a nearby city in Florida, but upon meeting them, David is shocked to see they have visibly aged. He faints and is taken to a hospital. There, his younger (now older) brother JEFF explains that eight years have passed since that night in the woods and David was declared dead. Everyone in the family is overjoyed with this miraculous reunion, though no one can explain David’s disappearance or lack of aging.
NASA official DR. FARADAY arrives at David’s home and asks for testing. David agrees. At the NASA base, David receives garbled messages in his head, apparently coming from someone in a nearby hangar. During tests, Faraday discovers that David’s brain now holds incredible amounts of information related to a strange flying craft, galaxy maps, and more. Faraday theorizes that an alien spacecraft picked up David and took him to another galaxy and back. The light-speed trip only took four hours, but everyone on Earth aged eight years. Scared at this revelation, David runs out of the testing room, screaming that he wants his life back. He hears more from the voice, and follows its directions to a hangar. There, he discovers the spacecraft his mind projected on screens earlier. Inside, he meets the ship’s robotic pilot, whom he nicknames MAX.
Max escapes the base with David onboard. It turns out that David, along with creatures from other planets, was taken for study on Max’s peaceful home planet. Max did not return David to his original timeline (eight years prior), fearing that humans are too delicate to survive time travel. While Max explains how he was captured by NASA while leaving Earth, David takes a liking to a small creature on the ship whose home planet was destroyed.
David and Max both need each other to get home. David needs Max to pilot to Florida, and Max needs star chart information in David's head to navigate back to his galaxy. Max performs a scan of David to extract the information but accidentally gets some of David’s memories and personality. Max’s voice immediately changes, becoming less robotic and more humorous and erratic. David and Max bicker as to their next course of action, to which Max's response is to shut down in a freefall, forcing David to take control and drive the ship. The two bond, and David heads for his family, though Max warns him NASA will anticipate this move.
They locate David’s house. David discovers NASA is waiting for him for more "guinea pig tests." He urges Max to return him to his own timeline, despite the danger. Max and David share a heartfelt good-bye, having become friends. Max speeds up the ship until David passes out. Awakening in the ravine like before, David walks home and finds everything the way he left it. He hugs his family (yes, even his little brother Jeff) and gets a pleasant souvenir from his adventure: The "orphaned" alien creature he bonded with seems to have stowed away in his backpack.
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Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips.
- Synopsis Example: "A History of Violence" (thriller)
- Synopsis Example: "The Ides of March" (thriller / mainstream)
- Synopsis Example: "Punch Drunk Love" (literary fiction)
- 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.