Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fantastic Synopses and How to Write Them

with guest Laurie Tomlinson.


Are you staring down the unhinged jaws of the synopsis beast? Feeling its hot, sticky breath on the back of your neck? 

Writing a synopsis can be a daunting task, but when you throw that puppy a bone, he’ll behave nicely. Promise.

Let’s start with the pre-writing.

Like with brainstorming a novel, a bit of work on the front end goes a long way, whether starting on the synopsis after you’ve finished your manuscript or when the story idea is still in its earliest stages. 

The two pre-writing strategies I recommend are outlines and brain dumps, depending on how our creativity flourishes best. Once we write everything we know about the story, we can decide how much to include based on the requested length. Most agents/editors/contests list formatting guidelines, but if you aren’t sure, it’s best to trend short and submit no more than 5 double-spaced pages. 

So, what should be included in a synopsis?

Depending on the length, you should focus on the story lines that best show the external conflict and the threads that are most central to the story’s genre. So if it’s romantic suspense, the synopsis will place top priority on the romantic and suspenseful storylines in the novel. 

As we’re brainstorming, it’s best to treat each thread like an individual story and identify its beginning, middle, and end to ensure the synopsis doesn’t have plot holes – even if the novel ties things up neatly. Yes, opposed to a back cover summary, a synopsis gives away what happens at the end. Agents and editors want to know how the conflict resolves itself and also how the main characters have grown along the way. 

So let’s pretend we’re writing a romantic suspense novel. In our synopsis brainstorming, we will summarize how the danger unfolds from the beginning when the character first feels that fear, to different events and near-misses, to the point where the confrontation comes to a head, to the end when the villain is abated. And then we’ll do the same with the romance: From the moment the hero and heroine are first introduced in the story, to events that forward their romance, to (hopefully) their happily-ever-after. Doing this in bullet/list form, or at least separate paragraphs, helps tie the threads together and integrate these plot points when it’s time to create the synopsis. 

As a bonus, if you’re writing your synopsis before the novel, this story thread brainstorming tactic can help with plotting. It works for this die-hard pantser because it shows which type of scene naturally belongs at a given point based on where the story is going. 

So, how do we keep a synopsis from becoming a list of sequential events? 

Goal, motivation, conflict (GMC)

As all of the plotting experts say, the characters’ goal, motivation, and conflict are the core of a synopsis and must be illustrated in every plot point. Instead of reading like a black-and-white list of events, the GMC paints the synopsis with color and character and reveals your storytelling flair.  If you’re still unpacking what happens in your story, this is a great place to start. 

What is your character’s main goal in the story driving their actions? What are the stakes behind why they want this to happen more than anything? What are the forces trying to prevent them from happily ever after—internal and external? How does each event in the story line influence or further the character’s GMC?

In our hypothetical romantic suspense synopsis, we must show how the characters’ fear and romantic chemistry evolves so the audience’s sympathy grows with them and readers care what happens next. (And notice the key word above is show, not tell.)

Once brainstorming is complete, weave the story threads together sequentially. Condense the 100,000-word novel into a riveting bedtime story – except one that won’t put your audience to sleep – by showing the arc of the characters’ GMC: how what they want changes as they grow and how the events of the story shape them. 

The GMC emphasis also helps weed out what doesn’t need to be included in the synopsis or what we can gloss over to keep things concise. If a scene or smaller storyline doesn’t move the plot forward or show evolution in the characters’ goal, motivation, or conflict, then cut it so it won’t derail the audience’s interest. It’s important not to let them get so full on the breadbasket that they miss the meat and potatoes of the story. 



How can our synopses stand out from the crowd?

When the synopsis is on paper, here’s a checklist of questions to help make it the best it can be:

Have you adhered to the requested formatting guidelines?
Does the synopsis communicate your writing style and voice? 
Just like with writing a novel, do word choice and sentence structure style techniques capture interest? 
Is the writing concise and polished? Have you had a second pair of eyes on it?
Is each plot thread wrapped up by the end of the synopsis?
Did you communicate the characters’ goal, motivation, and conflict throughout the plot summary?

Is synopsis writing the bane of your writerly existence? Do you write them before or after your novel is complete? Tell us your best tips!


Today I'll be giving away a 3-5 page synopsis critique to one FANTASTIC commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


About Laurie Tomlinson: Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author, freelance editor and virtual assistant, and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.

Her debut contemporary romance novel releases in May 2017 from Harlequin Heartwarming.


You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Twitter.  She is also a regular contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog.




108 comments :

  1. Welcome, Laurie.

    Dear Villagers. Laurie is a strange and fantastical beast herself. She loves writing the synopsis. I have never, ever heard anyone say this.

    In fact, I personally think she could make a fortune writing them for people. What an amazing talent.

    Thanks, Laurie for joining us and for this play by play. I plan to memorize this post!!

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    1. Thanks for having me, Tina! I will claim my badge of weird-dom with honor!

      I'm proofing a batch of cinnamon rolls to set out for our Villager friends in the morning :) Wouldn't it be nice to wake up to that smell?

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    2. Now you reminded me I have cinnamon rolls in the freezer. Taking some out to thaw!!! YUM!!!!

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    3. What, they're not gone yet, TINA?

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  2. Hi Laurie:

    I too love writing synopses. I found a key to writing a synopsis without undue pain is to remember that not everything needs to be in a synopsis. Writers who try to get everything in the synopsis will drive themselves to distraction.

    Here's what I found works very well for me. Write a detailed outline of the story. If you are a pantser, write what is going to happen in your story as well as you can. Study that material. Then wait a day or two.

    Then, as if you were in a room with friends, simply tell what happens in your story. Write this down. You'll remember the important things and leave out the minor elements. This narration should be in your natural writing voice. Remember: not every subplot or detail has to be included.

    I think authors often make synopsis writing much harder than it has to be. Of course, a writer can always go over a checklist and layer in what might be missing and thought to be important. Your checklists should be fine for doing this.

    BTW: I love the Heartwarming series and have been reading it for over 10 years (many under the old publisher). I really like the short format which provides the joy of a HEA in about half the reading time of a longer romance.

    Many Heartwarming books are about 150 to 165 pages. Ideal. However, I noticed that your debut romance (With No Reservations) is listed as 384 pages! That would be huge for Heartwarming. Is that number correct?

    I'm looking forward to your cover reveal.

    Vince

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    1. Vince, I met you at a WIN Tulsa meeting, I believe! Love that advice on synopses. Heartwarming has been great to write for. Our books are around 70-75K, so not as short as Love Inspired (around 50K).

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    2. Vince, you are thinking of HEARTSONG. Heartwarming is a bit of a new kid on the block. Here is the description:

      Wholesome contemporary romances that celebrate traditional values, strong communities, family connections and true love.

      Heartwarming Key Elements

      Clean, emotional, satisfying romances that readers can feel comfortable sharing with their mothers, daughters or granddaughters
      Romance, family and community are strong features of these stories
      Characters demonstrate traditional values, but exhibit flaws and overcome hurdles similar to those in other contemporary series romances
      Conflict between the main characters should be an emotional one, arising naturally from the story
      Plots unfold in a wholesome style and voice that excludes explicit sex or nudity, pre-marital sex, profanity, or graphic depictions of violence: references to violent incidents or pre-marital sex in the past are acceptable if they contribute to character development
      Physical interactions (i.e. kissing/hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality: low level of sexual tension; characters should not make love unless they are married
      No paranormal
      No explicit religious or Christian content
      Word count of 70,000 to 75,000 allows for breadth and complexity of story, and development of compelling sub-plots

      More details on the Harlequin page here:

      Harlequin Heartwarming

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    3. Hi Tina:

      You're right! I was thinking of Heartsong but I was 'tricked'! I put 'Harlequin Heartwarming' in the Amazon search feature, and up popped "Christmas Wishlist" by Karen Toller Whittenburg which was listed at 153 pages and which I bought immediately!

      Karen wrote my first three romance keepers, which I still have, back in the '90's! It's called
      "The Magic Wedding Dress" series and it is still my favorite three book series. "The Two-Penny Wedding", "The Fifty-Cent Groom", and "Million Dollar Bride". (True these three books are 248 pages and are actually Harlequin Treasury books but they were listed right under her Heartwarming title. I thought the series too was a Heartwarming.)

      Karen's trilogy is the funniest three romances I've ever read. I had taken a college course at TU on screen writing for TV shows and when I read the "Magic Wedding Dress" books I thought the author should write for TV and make really big money. The books are a little paranormal because the theme is: if a woman puts on the magic wedding dress, she will marry the first man who sees her in the dress! Even if this is totally improbable! None of the women have boyfriends at the time. I think some were sneaking a wear of the dress just to dream what it would be like to be getting married! It's very zany and very funny in a weird situation comedy type of way. I'm so happy Karen's books are coming back for Kindle! At the time I was only finding her books in used book stores.

      Seekerville is a surprise a day! So fun! Thanks again!

      Vince

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    4. Hi Laurie:

      Yes, I was with WIN for two or more years. Just could not get to those Saturday meetings. But loved it! What fun to sit at a table with the president of the CFWA and other authors with over 50 books published each! Speakers included RITA and CAROL winners! And everyone was so nice and open you'd never know they were stars in the romance writing world. I think anyone who has a working CFWA chapter near them, should join ASAP. Of course, it is very Christian, and they say a prayer, and they may meet in a Church, but the writing information will work for any genre and might even save a few secular authors. : )

      Vince

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    5. CFWA???

      I still miss WIN--was a member for the whole 5 years we lived in the Tulsa area.

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    6. LOL, Vince. See you can still teach us old dogs new tricks.

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    7. Hi Tina:

      How about this: I went back and wrote Amazon reviews on all three of those Magic Wedding Dress romances -- about 22 years after I read them. Is that a Seeker record between reading and reviewing?

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  3. Laurie, these are great tips! And what perfect timing for me since I'm facing that glaring, snorting beast again.

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  4. Welcome, Laurie! Thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips. Being a pantser, you'd think I'd despise writing a synopsis, but I actually enjoy it.

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    1. Jill, I'm so glad there are others like us! :)

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  5. Good Morning, LAURIE! I'm getting ready to start a new synopsis and I'm always looking for new tips!

    One thing I found that really helped me is at the top of my synopsis to write a one or two sentence single-spaced "blurb" to anchor the main GMC. Then the actual double-spaced synopsis starts. I begin by writing a few paragraphs (hero and heroine separate) with their backstory and GMC. That way those are out of the way before I launch into "as the story opens." When I used to try to blend the two--backstory with current action--I really had a muddled mess. Because of my new method, I don't hate writing a synopsis QUITE so much! :)

    Thanks for the tips on which plot points to include--I know sometimes I tend to include too much detail!

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    1. Glynna Kaye, that's an excellent tip! I think someone should write a sequel to this post talking about the fine balance of backstory and plot in a synopsis (and in a novel, for that matter)! Your way sounds perfect!

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    2. I don't know that it's a perfect solution, Laurie, but it sure helped me to write a less confusing synopsis--and my editor and agent seem to be able to follow along much easier now.

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    3. Glynna, you make a great point. In the past, I've wrestled with synopses only to find that it works best if I relate the story in chronological order, including backstory, no matter what order backstory is revealed in the novel.

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    4. I might also add that I found the same thing to be true of blurbs. It works best for me to write them in chronological order, instead of where the story begins, usually in the middle of the action.

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    5. I like your method, Glynna! It helps me, too!

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  6. Laurie. Dear. If I wrote you as a character, it would be science fiction. Oops. Jill W is in the story now too. "likes writing synopsis".

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    1. It's okay, Debra. I'll own it. I happen to like science fiction a lot :)

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    2. Yeah, I'm with you, Debra Marvin. Like a steam punk girl with a pen in her hand. I cannot fathom this like of the wicked evil synopsis. But I suppose there is good in everything/one/it. hahahaha

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  7. Laurie, thanks so much for sharing these ideas with us. I have to confess, I dread writing a synopsis and can really use the help.

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    1. Everyone has different gifts, Mary. The thing I dread is titles/headlines. I wrote press releases and articles full-time all day, every day for seven years, and it ever got any easier for me! <3

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  8. Good morning, Laurie! Awesome post. And just in time to enter contests. Thanks!

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  9. Good morning,Laurie! This how-to will be at the front of my plot notebook. My two takeaways on this initial reading are:
    As a bonus, if you’re writing your synopsis before the novel, this story thread brainstorming tactic can help with plotting. It works for this die-hard pantser because it shows which type of scene naturally belongs at a given point based on where the story is going.
    Going to reread and comment again when it all sinks in.
    It is cold here in Tennessee and the coffee is on and my 7 ingredient breakfast casserole is coming out of the oven.

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    1. Olivia, so glad to help :) Please save me a square of breakfast casserole!!

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  10. Wonderful post, Laurie!! Congrats on your Heartwarming debut! Are you allowed to give us a teaser blurb? Looking forward to reading it. :)

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    1. Still waiting on my cover to announce everything, but if you happened to click on the Amazon link, you might find more information :) http://amzn.to/2iM44Fm

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    2. Excited for you and for us readers. :) Congrats again!

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  11. Laurie I just printed out the post. I tend to only write them when I absolutely have to, because I really don't know how to do it, so this will be a helpful guideline.

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  12. Laurie -- What is the biggest challenge for you when you're writing a synopsis that accompanies proposal chapters?

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    1. Glynna, mine always seem to start out too wordy. I have to go through them again and make sure my sentences are tight and don't contain too much unnecessary detail. Critique partners help rein me in!

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  13. Good Morning Laurie. This is a keeper-post for sure. One thing (well several actually, but sticking to one for now) that baffles me about writing a synopsis is flexibility. It's hard to stick to some hard and fast rules about synopsis writing since, depending what the synopsis is for, whether it be an agent, a contest or a publisher, the synopsis requirements are always different, so how does one become flexible? The length always throws me. If one contest wanted a 1 page synopsis, how do I turn that into the 10 page synopsis the next contest wants? You gave me some good stuff to work on.

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    1. Yes, I usually start longer and then trim a few different versions accordingly. The Genesis contest one-page synopsis was brutal, at first! So hard to trim necessary story information to fit it onto one page!

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  14. Lots of good stuff there, Laurie. :) Thanks for sharing! And congrats on the soon to be new release. That's awesome. :)

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  15. Hi Laurie:

    Yes, I was with WIN for two or more years. Just could not get to those Saturday meetings. But loved it! What fun to sit at a table with the president of the CFWA and other authors with over 50 books published each! Speakers included RITA and CAROL winners! And everyone was so nice and open you'd never know they were stars in the romance writing world. I think anyone who has a working CFWA chapter near them, should join ASAP. Of course, it is very Christian, and they say a prayer, and they may meet in a Church, but the writing information will work for any genre and might even save a few secular authors. : )

    Vince

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    1. I agree, Vince. Loved meeting with them!

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  16. LAURIE, excellent post. Synopses are not easy for me. I will put your suggestions to work on First Impressions, which is my next foray into the contest world.
    CINDY R., one of the things I do is run up a basic synopsis, like a template, and tweak it for each contest or agent request. You can't reinvent the wheel every time, you will go insane. Or not get any other writing done.
    OLIVIA, I love breakfast casserole! I used to make it ahead for Christmas morning when both my kids were home. It is a lifesaver. I also love cinnamon rolls, so if all this food were real, I would have to make a decision.
    Working from home today, will check in later.
    Kathy Bailey

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  17. Laurie, thank you for your tips for making the synopsis writing process less intimidating! Perfect timing since I need to do a synopsis revision in the next couple of weeks. Love your checklist!

    I'm just back from Seattle, so I brought strong coffee from the city of caffeine for all of us needing to focus this morning.

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    1. Thank you, Sherida! I need alllllll the coffee today!

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  18. LAURIE, welcome to Seekerville! Your synopsis post is so good! Thank you for the concise information for shrinking the story. Your upbeat attitude reminds me to see writing the synopsis as an opportunity, not a chore.

    Congrats on your Heartwarming debut! I went to Amazon and read the blurb. The story sounds terrific!

    Janet

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    1. Thank you so much, Janet! So nice of you to say!

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  19. VINCE, I love that you said Seekerville is a surprise a day! There's always a new thought to ponder, some fun to savor. Happy New Year!

    Janet

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    1. Yes! So true. There are surprises from the wide range of guests, the on-going experiences of the Seekers themselves and, of course, the many comments to posts. I also think some of the biggest surprises come when you surprise yourself with insights you would have likely never had otherwise.

      Seekerville is just such a good creative environment. Happy New Year to you as well!

      Vince

      P.S. also the Mary/Ruthy cross-comments. : ))

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  20. Wonderful tips and explanations about what goes into synopsis writing--thank you, Laurie! As a pantser, I really struggle when I have to write the synopsis first in order to submit a proposal. But as others have said, and as my agent so wisely advised, I try to think of it like telling myself a story.

    It never really gets easier, though. . . . sigh.

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    1. Myra - Yes! Just like telling a bedtime story and then clean up later to make sure it doesn't put them to sleep :)

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  21. Welcome, Laurie! This quote cracked me up! "Are you staring down the unhinged jaws of the synopsis beast? Feeling its hot, sticky breath on the back of your neck?" That is so me!! I always dread writing a synopsis. :)

    This is such a GREAT piece of advice that I need to read over and over: "It’s important not to let them get so full on the breadbasket that they miss the meat and potatoes of the story."

    I am so guilty of that. Thanks for making this topic so much easier to understand!

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    1. You are not alone in your dread, Missy! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

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  22. Laurie, what a great post! I've never feared writing a synopsis, but it wasn't until a friend tweaked mine, transforming it from a telling piece of work to something that was fun to read. I need to hone my skills in that area of synopsis writing. :)

    I write my synopsis before my story. It helps me keep on track with the story, and it can be tweaked as needed as I write my first draft.

    Loved your post! It was so practical! I'll be printing it out.

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    1. Jeanne, you are always such an encouragement <3

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  23. I don't hate them, but I don't think I'm good at them either
    Some stories are easier than others.
    The last synopsis I wrote was for the Canadian Hero Blitz, a LIS story. I had to work quickly because this was a new story and little time. I knew my characters goals/conflicts better than I knew the details of the suspense plot. All I can say is the synopsis proved that to the editor.
    Editors feedback said she liked my conflict/hooks and the suspense thread was intriguing, but there were a lot of confusing elements. Uh, maybe that's because I was a little confused too... She still she'd be glad to look at the full if I could work out the issues.

    This is a keeper post. Thanks Laurie!

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    1. I can imagine it would be even harder to write a suspense synopsis before the actual novel! Kudos to you, Connie -- seriously!

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  24. Synopsis sell books, right? So I like them, but of course I don't have to write them. Soldier on!

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    1. LOL, Marianne! So true. You just get to enjoy the fruits of the battle. :)

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  25. Hi Laurie, thanks so much for sharing these tips. Pleas add me to the drawing. Thanks and happy new year!

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  26. Great tips, Laurie! Definitely a keeper post! Congrats on your upcoming debut release!

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  27. Laurie, do you typically write your synopsis before or after you write your book? Let's talk a not contracted book, because they want those ahead of time.

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    1. Tina, I have more-often-than-not written my synopsis after I've written the book. But now that I'm contracted, I have been writing them before to make sure I don't sign up for a story I don't know how to get myself out of :)

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  28. Laurie congratulations on your upcoming book release!

    And thanks for this post. I've written both ways --- synopsis before and synopsis after. Writing the synopsis before helped keep me on track, but I had to write it again after because the character I thought was the hero turned out not to be (!)

    Did I mention your post is perfectly timed? :-)

    Nancy C

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    1. Nancy, that makes perfect sense and happens to me all the time! I am on the last draft of my latest WIP and just discovered a new motivation/theme. These characters don't like making things convenient for us, do they?

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  29. Hey, LAURIE, GREAT POST!!! A definite printer-offer for aspiring authors!!

    You asked: "Is synopsis writing the bane of your writerly existence? Do you write them before or after your novel is complete? Tell us your best tips!

    Well, in the beginning, yes, the synopsis scared the living daylights out of me, but it turned out that I actually liked writing them because they're way easier than I thought they would be. It's the pressure of hooking the editor in one paragraph and selling the book in several page that unnerves most people, I think.

    On my first and second books, I wrote the synopsis after the book was written, but then I think most people probably do. But since I am a series writer, it didn't take long for me to write a detailed synopsis first to guide me through the writing of the book, which is what I generally do for every single book I write now. I remember both my editor and agent telling me that my synopses read like a mini-novel (including dialogue I eventually use in the book), enticing them to read, so that sealed the deal for me in writing them first.

    Best tip? Incorporate a punchy line or two of dialogue. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Interesting that you add dialogue, Julie. I've been taking James Patterson's Master Class and he has a unique outline methodology that speaks to me. I'm going to try that next to go deeper in my planning. Right now a synopsis is helpful but it's still not quite doing the whole pre planning job. I need more. And I do a whole 6 stage structure a head of time and detailed questions. But I need to see it spread out in each chapter. So now after 7 books am finding that I need more growth in this area.

      It's fun to learn and grow as a writer.

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    2. I'm with Tina on the dialogue, Julie. That's a great tip! Always fun to be here and learn something new :)

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    3. Wow, really? That's new to you and Tina, Laurie? That kind of surprises me because I just figured a lot of people used dialogue, you know? But when my agent and editor said my synopses were different and read like a novel, I'm pretty sure that's one of the main reasons why.

      And, Tina, for me the synopsis is such a great starting point, but the story doesn't always end up the way the synopsis says, which just underscores my seat-of-the-pants style of writing as I go. But I will admit, I am incredibly impressed with your "6 stage structure and detailed questions" -- WOW!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  30. Laurie, welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on breaking into Heartwarming! Good for you!

    I used to dread the synopsis... I think most of us do because it's a different kettle of fish, isn't it?

    I don't dread it now. I've written so many that I jump in, plow through and see if I can capture enough of the story I see in my mind's eye to fool the editor into thinking I can pull it off!

    :)

    And I do, eventually... As a pantser, I would normally write the synopsis after the book, but for my Love Inspired books I write it before...

    I like that you tackled into this. I know it can be daunting.... And for folks that have never written one, it can be a deal-breaker.

    They're really easy (if a tad boring) to write now that I've shrugged aside the fear factor. And it's the last thing I do for a proposal, and it does help me cement the characters' goals in my mind.

    (Which I tend to change mid-stride...)

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    1. Ruthy, that's interesting that you write the chapters before your synopsis. But like you said, I guess the chapters help you form the goals, etc.

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    2. Ruthy, I agree that fear has a lot to do with it! That's why I compared it to a beast when it really is a friendly puppy who only wants to help you figure out and represent your story. If only our characters were as easy to work with :)

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  31. Laurie, congrats on your Heartwarming debut! And thanks for being with us today.

    The synopsis is my friend. :)

    Although it's still not my favorite writing exercise, but it does help me see the holes in my story. Often I'll change major plot points when the synopsis doesn't work. Usually I write three chapters and then the synopsis. By that time, I know where the story is headed and what happens...but then the flaw appears as I work on the synopsis and I make changes as needed.

    Today I'm working on a 500 word synopsis for the Art Fact Sheet for my next release. That tight word count adds a bit more pressure to the process. Wish me luck!

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    1. You can do it, Debby!! The way I see it, I would rather figure it out in the synopsis than have to rewrite my whole story (which I've also had to do).

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    2. Interesting, Debby! Another who writes the 3 chapters before the synopsis. Maybe I need to try reversing my order!

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    3. I don't know get a feel for my characters until the end of chapter five. I can write a synopsis for a proposal but really, I should be writing them after chapter five not three. Lesson well learned in 2016.

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  32. Ugh, stinking day job getting in the way of me coming to hangout in Seekerville!

    Could only pop in for a minute, but wanted to welcome Laurie to Seekerville! Thank you so much for writing a post about how the dreaded synopsis. I'm a work now, and I'm headed to the spa after work with my sister-in-law for some much needed pampering. However, I'm bookmarking your article and plan to come back later for a complete read through. I need all the help I can get when it comes to writing a synopsis!

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    1. Ooooh, Rhonda! Enjoy the spa!!

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    2. A spa? Foreign to me. Although folks around here are touting a silence chamber where you float in Epsom Salt. Interesting. For an hour.

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    3. Tina, I Googled the silence chamber thing, and I don't think I'd like that very much. I don't get to go to the spa very often, but sometimes when I have aches and pains and way too much stress in my life, I've just got to go have a nice one hour massage. It was fabulous! And to top things off, they've cancelled school tomorrow because we're expecting snow!!! I love getting a free day to write! I may just tackle writing a synopsis for my next project.

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  33. LAURIE, as a reader I'm amazed at ALL that goes into writing and getting a book ready for publishing.

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    1. Caryl - It's definitely a labor of love but totally worth it because it's what we're called to do!

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  34. I haven't ever really written a story synopsis for any of my stories. Is the only reason you would write them to get a publisher's or agent's attention? But the summary that goes on the back of a book- that, that is my bane as a writer.

    Thanks for this interesting post.

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    1. Nicky, a synopsis is your map of your book. You wouldn't take off in a plane or a car without a map. This is your story map.

      And it's not just to get the agent or editor's attention. Most require them. So eventually unless you are with a publisher who does not require them, you will have to write them. So start polishing your skills using Laurie's handy-dandy post now.

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    2. Nicky, most publishers will want to see a synopsis before they offer you another contract, even if it's your 37th contract! Becky Wade shared two synopses of her books on her website, if you're familiar with her!

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    3. Well right now my publisher is my dad, and he's not really all that picky about these sorts of things- though I am certain that he WOULD be a little grumpy if I gave him more work to do in the publishing department (in other words give him more stuff to have to read). But if I ever choose to go the route of traditional publishing (and I hope to someday) then I should probably take Tina's advise and start polishing my skills now.

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  35. Laurie, it's nearly suppertime in your neck of the woods. We will have our evening crowd come by after dinner, but I wanted to be sure to thank you for visiting today.

    I appreciate that you sacrifice your sanity for us and the synopsis. The world is a better place for you taming that beast. Do come and see us when your Heartwarming releases! We'd love to have you again. Praying for continued success for you!

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    1. Tina, I always love to visit Seekerville and share with the Village. Thanks so much for having me again!

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  36. Hi Laurie, Thank you so much for coming to Seekerville today and helping us decipher that dreaded, but so important, synopsis. You had some great points and I learned from the comments as well. Congratulations on your Heartwarming debut. I love that series.

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  37. Thank you, Laurie! I hate writing synopses (I'm just no good at it) but I know I must learn. This was such a helpful post! I truly appreciate it. Congratulations on your book!! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Laura - So kind of you! I appreciate you reading!

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  38. Laurie, Thanks for the hints. I'll be writing a synopsis this weekend (and at home with all four kids because of snow) and I need all the pointers I can get because my synopses always sound like book reports rather than an emotional telling of a romance. Congratulations on your Heartwarming release.

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  39. Hi Laurie:

    I agree that the major problem with the synopsis is fear. I believe that this is the same fear some writers also have of plotting. A synopsis or plot is like looking into the mirror the first thing in the morning. While the book you are writing, while it is being pantsered, is like thinking of the Glamour Shot you are going to have taken when the book is finished. It's going to be so beautiful. Right?

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  40. Oh Laurie, I hate writing synopsis! Thank you for this! I mostly write them after the novel is written except a couple of times when an agent asked me for other ideas. It was helpful to have it written in advance, even though a few things changed. Congrats on your dbut!

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  41. Laurie I have a long way to go, but I have jotted some notes down and pinned this wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your insights!

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  42. Hi Laurie. I'm on the downside of my WIP and, although I have a tentative synopsis, I need to do considerable work before I have a document suitable for submission. Thanks so much for your insight into this. Yikes!

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  43. Good morning from a snowy day in Tennessee. Until Grandma duty beckons, I am going back to my WIP and doing those bullet points for the synopsis. This reverse engineering should have a way of curtailing my pantser tendencies. Have a blessed day all!

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