Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Write Your Synopsis Without Losing Your Mind

I'm proud to say the following was printed as an article in the Tampa Area Romance Author's newsletter, The Scarlett Letter, as well as reprinted by various other RWA chapter newsletters! Hope it helps - enjoy!

I used to leave writing the synopsis until the end—makes sense, right? I soon figured out this meant wasted hours reading the darn book AGAIN to figure out what is actually happening when. There had to be a better way.
And there is! When I’m writing my WIP, I keep another document open that is simply numbered 1-20, or however many chapters I expect to write (you can always add or delete! Brilliant!). As I finish a chapter, I toggle to my other document and write a quick sketch of what just happened. When I’m finished with the rough draft, or at any time in between, I can read through this simple document and see the flow of the story. It’s a lot easier to get an overall picture of your GMC, character development, story arc, etc., than relying on notes, post-its, or memory. If I change, add, or delete a chapter, I adjust it on the synopsis worksheet, always trying to keep the worksheet as true to what’s actually in the chapter as possible. Before adapting this technique, I used to find that the synopsis described things that didn’t actually happen in the book!

Since the key to a good synopsis is focusing on WHAT HAPPENS, the battle is almost won. Now, you can polish it up. I also save it in different forms – a 1-2 page, a 3-5 page, and then a fully detailed synopsis. By cutting and pasting from the master document, I will then have whatever size synopsis the editor wants to see.

(Now, if I can only figure out a way for an editor to request it!)

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