Synopsis writing – spiritual arc/internal conflict

An editor will want to know how your character changes over the course of the book, so it’s important to include the character’s spiritual arc or arc of internal conflict.

It’s pretty simple. In the first paragraph or two, mention the character’s flaw, or spiritual struggle, or internal conflict.

Mary has given up on God and blames Him for her parents’ death.

Josh has always felt a need to control the people in his life, influencing their decisions. After all, it’s for their own good.

In the middle, show how the characters are coming to realize that their spiritual/internal state is wrong.

Mary is intrigued by Alice’s strong faith despite the horrible things that have happened to her. Mary rethinks her lost faith in the face of Alice’s unwavering trust in God and assertion that she has no business questioning what God has allowed.

Josh is shocked at his brother’s outburst, and wonders if it’s true that he’s trying to control his family like a set of tin soldiers.

In the climax, show how the character comes to an epiphany or realization about their spiritual/internal state. Show what they learn about themselves.

It should also be a strong inciting incident that brings them to this point—something powerful makes them turn their thoughts inward. It can’t be something small or insignificant. They can’t suddenly decide one day to do some introspection.

Mary cries at Alice’s graveside, holding her friend’s letter. Her heart crumbles before God as she realizes the larger picture God has of her world, and how He does indeed work everything for good for those who love Him.

Josh grabs the crumpled tricycle, realizing how his controlling ways have caused his family so much grief and pain. He realizes that if he does not change, he won’t have a family at all.


  1. Camy, thanks for this tip! I've struggled with this--now I'm smacking my forehead and saying "Duh!"


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