Friday, January 23, 2009

The Dreaded Synopsis

I don't know why we authors dread writing a synopsis. But most people I talk to agree. Writing a novel, from the inception of the the idea, to the black moment then the wonderful happily ever after conclusion could be compared to a garden of beautiful blooming flowers. You want to spend all day in it, basking in the warm sunshine and picking blooms off a daisy.

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me.

This may come close to describing novel writing at its best when all the wheels are turning in a writers mind and we are writing a bunch of good stuff ;)

But when it comes to writing a synopsis, that's a different garden all together. Sometimes it can be like working in a garden of weeds.
They're hard to pull up. You hate that they've taken over your colorful blooms. They just won't die. You get dirty, on your hands and knees, trying to rid your garden of them, but they just won't DIE!!!

Writing a synopsis is a must. If you plan to enter contests, you will most likely need the synopsis as a part of your submission. If you are sending a proposal to a prospective agent or editor, they will want a synopsis. You may have a great hook and your first thirty pages may be flawless, but that synopsis will briefly tell your story. Experts in the field will be able to tell if your hook is going to pay off in the end. And believe me, they can see through your B.S.

I mean, bad synopsis,of course ;)

Here's a tool that has helped me: Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method. You'll find it on his website.

Randy advises us to start with a One Sentence Summary. Then, the One Paragraph Summary for each of the three main disasters of the story and a sentence for the ending. Please refer to Randy's Advanced Fiction Writing Website to get into the meat of his lessons.

The One Sentence Summary helps me - a long winded writer - to put the big picture of my story into 15 words or less. When I figured out the three disasters that were to happen in my story - in Act One, Act Two and Act Three - I was able to compile a nice one page synopsis. And finally, I wrote a short few sentences for my happy ending.

My synopsis is far from perfect. It will need tweaking. But the fact is I was able to write a synopsis within one hour. Anyone reading my entry for a contest will know where my first chapters are leading.

Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method is one tool for novel writing and has been successful for many. But there are many methods out there. What are some tools in writing you've used to help construct your novel or synopsis?

Or maybe you've watched a movie or read a book that had you hooked from the beginning and didn't let you go until the end. Share it with us, won't you? Books and Writing are like chocolate and coffee here on FAITH. One can't live with out the other!!!


  1. So cute, Christy! B.S. Bad synopsis. LOL!!!

    I've liked Carolyn Green's chart for writing a synopsis. It's in her Plotting notebook. But I'm going to try using Randy's method next time. I've learned that having that one liner is a great way to start your book--it gives focus, and it's a great marketing tool to have. I think editors really want to see that market hook up front.


  2. Christy,

    Cuz is just happy you quit playing with that pet long enough to post.......Send me your Synopsis, I read well............ask Lindi !!!

  3. Missy -
    I think I have Carolyn Greene's Notebook and I need to revisit that. Another good one to try.

  4. Okay Cuz, I'll get this synopsis tweaked and send it your way. Thank you!

  5. I think writing a synopsis is hard for a novelist because we are so long-winded.

  6. I bet vocabs are important in helping to do a good synopsis? Or the wisdom of playing with the words. I think same goes with blog post, if we could have our messages delivered in a shorter, understandable way, it'll beneficial the readers. Still, at times, I still longed for lengthy writings, that's why we read novels right? ^^

    And that's why I have this Prison Break & Movie Spree in my little blogs. Just, write away!

  7. You know, I've always said I think maybe we should have our critique partners write our synopses. They can pick out the important points easier and then let the rest go. With our own work, we love it all and find it hard to pick the most important things! :)

    Chin Ya, thanks for stopping by our blog!


  8. And I'm sorry I spelled your name wrong in that last comment, Ching Ya!

  9. I love Randy's way to write a synopsis.

    That has been the biggest help to me so far. That and Missy's idea...have a critique partner write it. That worked well also.