Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing Tip Wednesday--The Synopsis

There's that dreaded word--the bane of almost every writer. The SYNOPSIS!!!

Do you get sick to your stomach thinking about having to write one???

Good news! If you've been following my weekly posts, you're at least halfway done with your synopsis! Do you remember last month's GMC blog? How about last week's Timelines suggestions? Combine the two and you have a good portion of your rough draft.

A synopsis should tell the chronological order of your story, using your characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts to describe what each character wants, why he reacts the way he reacts, and how those decisions and behaviors affect him and his growth (character arc) through the events that happen. The synopsis also tells the progression of the plot and its resolution--whether it's permanent or temporary--and is written in present tense from a narrator's perspective (omniscient POV).

1) Define the situation and setting.
2) Use the cause and effect approach to tell what happens in the story.
3) Clearly tell the actions of the main characters and how they affect the plot.
4) Reveal the emotional cause and affect of the events.
5) Include the characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts.
6) Answer all questions the reader may have, including the ending.

Remember--The synopsis should present a plot with a complexity that matches the word count of your manuscript. It should make the reader want to read your book.

Synopses can be anywhere from a few hundred words to 15 or 20 pages. For a short synopsis, cut out all but the main characters' most important GMCs and the major plot points. For a long synopsis, include subplots and more details about the characters' GMCs.

A couple suggestions for Plotters:

Many plotters write the synopsis before the book. If you make changes to the plot/subplots as you write the story, make those adjustments in your synopsis. If a motivation doesn't seem strong enough in your character bio and you develop a stronger motivation, be sure to tweak your synopsis to reflect the change.

My best advice...Learn how to write a synopsis. It'll help you create cover and promo blurbs as well as taglines. Every writer needs to know how to create this useful tool.

Since I mentioned Character Arc, let's take a closer look at that topic next week!

Don't forget to support Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research! Only 9 days left!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. Hi Mellanie.

    Some good suggestions there. I do 'plot' before I start writing but try not to make it too detailed otherwise I personally find it detracts from the spontaneity of writing. The moment as you are writing that a character's motivation or goal becomes clear or where you can take their conflict further. That moment can be a fabulous light bulb moment and inspire me further.

    What I do find very useful is to cut and paste what I have plotted for each chapter and place it at the start of each chapter as an easy reference point as I am writing to remind myself what I had intended for that chapter.

    But you have reminded me to be better about revising the background/plot/synopsis - whatever you call it - as I write.

    Thanks once again. :)

    1. I love those light bulb moments, Jen! Those sudden realizations are what keeps me a plantser. :)