Sunday, February 24, 2013

Synopsis...dun, dun, dun.

I've seriously been dragging my feet in the synopsis department. I mean, first we have to grab someone's attention in 200 words with the query and then whittle our whole book in a 1-2 page double spaced document????? (Yeah, that many question marks.)

Now you know why it's taken me a whole year to write one. But even better, now I can say it's done! And the best thing? I love my synopsis and had a great time writing it...well, after the initial urge to slam my head in the wall and smash my laptop to the ground. Good thing I got over that!

So, how did I do it?

First I googled how to write a synopsis. After reading over several helpful articles, I gathered my thoughts and made up a loose outline. Basically, I took my format for writing a book and minimized that. What format do I use for writing, you may ask? I absolutely love the one and only awesomesauce filled, Story Engineering.

Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing

If you haven't read it, you need to! You won't regret it, I promise. 

Here's what my synopsis outline looked like.

First Plot Point-
Middle turning point-
Second Plot Point-

Yes, in case you haven't heard, add the ending of your book to the synopsis. 

After filling in a simple one line detail for each of those events, I made another list that looked like this.

Important People-
Important world building clues- (For my urban fantasy book, this was things that made the world of genies different from the norm.)

Once that was finished, I stuck those clues into my sentences above, fleshed it out, added some voice, and then revised. What started as a four page double-spaced, somewhat detailed synopsis is now a clean polished, concise just over one page beauty. 

Did I do it alone? No. Which is the best secret of writing. Critique partners are just as important as knowing your abc's. Well, almost :) I sent it off and continued to work on it myself, rewording things to say them in a better way that would take less space. And most importantly, taking out anything that isn't absolutely needed to cover the basics. 

Remember the unforgettable side characters I just blogged about that I love? Unfortunately, they may be an enjoyable addition to the story as a whole, but not always to the main conflict. You don't need to add every subplot and side character. Pick and choose, but keep the story true to itself! 

So, have you written a synopsis? 


  1. Great post! Sounds like you ended up having a lot of fun with your synopsis! I liked the process a lot better than I thought I would, but I didn't LOVE it. in the end though, I think it was a really helpful process, and I kept two versions: a polished 2-pager for agents that want longer and a polished 1-pager for those that want it short and sweet!

  2. I admit, I've written a few. Not that they were amazing, but I hear you get better the more you do it. You've clearly taken the right approach. :)

  3. Thanks for the comments! I tried to get a two page and one page, but I felt like if I could come up with just one, it would have to be good enough for both. And mine settled just over one page.

    David, it's good to hear from you. I'm just trying to get back into blogging after my fifth baby...she's almost one :)

  4. Yucky synopses. :P You did a great job, though, and this is a great method!

  5. Thanks Shallee. You know I learn most of the awesome things about writing from great writing friends right? :) Where would I be if you hadn't told me to read Larry Brooks book? You rock...the end.

  6. Hi, Michelle,

    YAY, YOU! Congrats. I really like this format and I will DEFINITELY be trying it for my next one.

    Thanks for the information!


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