Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Rest of the Story Synopsis: KISS

First thing this morning, I emailed the full proposal of A NANNY FOR THE COWBOY, the eighth book set in Desperation, OK, to my editor.  For those who aren't savvy with all the crazy publishing terms, a full proposal is usually considered a full synopsis (a complete telling of the story in four or more pages) and the first three chapters of the book.

Last week, I blogged about using character sketches to begin a synopsis, hopefully solving the age old problem of editors' whys. With that done--my character sketches, that is--it was time to start the telling of the story, aka the heart of the story.

Writing a synopsis is nothing more than a simple telling of a story.  Start at the beginning, where the characters first collide (meet), then move forward from there, each step of the way through the turning points, black moment, and finally to the resolution.  If you've done your character sketches, explaining why a character does, thinks, or believes something has been taken care of.  The one thing to keep in mind is to be sure you include each characters' emotional reactions to what happens in a scene.

Everyone writes a synopsis in their own way.  I start with a paragraph about the first scene, then another about the second and third scenes.  As a rule, that's my first chapter.  After that, I have a paragraph for each chapter, containing short descriptions of each of the scenes.  Within those scenes are the turning points, which are the backbone of your story.  A long explanation isn't needed.  Just the facts and the reaction/emotions of the character and the hooks.

All the above is why plotting your book in advance of writing the synopsis is helpful.  That doesn't mean you have to know exactly what's going to happen in each and every scene, or every word and look exchanged by the characters, but having a brief idea of what moves the story along doesn't hurt and gives the story synopsis continuity.  Think of turning points, those things that happen to move the story in a large or small new direction.  Think of them as hooks to keep the reader reading, instead of putting the book aside to read later.

Yes, I'm a plotter, and somewhere in all these blog posts are photos of my plotting board(s).  But I didn't start out that way, and my friends had drag me, kicking and screaming, into the light.  Even some of my best writing friends will say they don't plot, but they do.  They just don't put it on paper.  Obviously their minds aren't the sieve mine is.  But truthfully, I'm visual and need to see where I'm going, while those others keep it in their heads.  In the end, we all get to the same place....THE END.  And that's what's important.

For more information on plotting, try these tips from authors:
Or simply plug *plotting a novel* into a search engine.  With a little practice, the pain will ease, and you'll be writing a synopsis without throwing your laptop out the nearest window.
When I decided to take writing seriously, I did a lot of reading and analyzing of the books I liked, and came up with what I thought were pretty sound plotting and structure basics.
 - George Stephen

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