Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Synopsis Shynopshish

Hello all

Sorry my post is coming late, I had to go and get lost and then listen to a man and a lady argue in french on what the right way is (They both were not very helpful, thank God for the pharmacist)

Today we are talking about writing a synopsis, I shall share with you my method for writing a synopsis and you can share what works for you .

For the last time this week let me start by reciting the pantser allegiance pledge. For most of my WIPs the only thing I do before I write it down is write the synopsis. At this stage I am under no pressure and I am still in my happy go lucky "this wip is going to be a bestseller" stage so writing what the story is about flows out from me easily.

Now obviously we all know about that saggy middle when everything begins to unravel and your characters start to hide things from you  and you realize this cannot work this way - its unbelievable!

At that point obviously the earlier synopsis becomes a pipe dream but I still hold on to it, then when I am done with the WIP I start to summarize each chapter to about a paragraph but I still keep it detailed.

After that I copy from 1st and 2nd synopsis and get it all into one document et voila! I have a synopsis.
Other things I have learnt is
  • Keep it interesting
  • Be as detailed as your space allows
  • No direct quotes from the WIP
  • Most agents/editors prefer between 2-5 pages, if you go over you better make it really epic
  • I personally prefer anything double spaced, all the professional documents I have seen have always been double spaced (my last synopsis was 1.75 sshh).
  • Don't put yourself under any pressure you are the same awesome person who just finished a manuscript, just let your passion shine through.

Tomorrow is the day when we jointly critique a synopsis constructively, remember when I made you all sign your names in blood to do that? you don't? its okay I glamorized you but I have the signed papers so dont bother bailing out on me now.

A demain
This is Corsica

Inside the St. Nicholas Cathedral (Cathedrale de Monaco)

Same place, this is where Grace Kelly is buried


  1. Thank you for the tips! I love the photos, too.

    PS - You've won my September contest! Drop by my blog and let me know what you'd like as your prize!

  2. I'm a bit confused as to the point of a synopsis, is it for personal use only or is it something you can present to a publisher? (sorry, I know it might be a dumb question)

  3. This is really good. I'm going to save this post for later.


  4. I write the synopsis over and over until I've got it down. Then I move into my outline. From the outline, I go into the "zero" draft (first draft, but soooo much less stress and pressure when I call it a zero draft). I read on Laini Taylor's blog that you don't know the story until you're in it. Even the plotters like me! It's true. I think I know the story. I'm sure that I know it. But then an arrow will come out of nowhere and my character goes racing off into the forest and...there went that outline. I have to follow the story, which doesn't always behave. GREAT post - and wonderful pictures!

  5. Synopsis writing is a million times harder than writing a novel. I dread it every time I have to do it ... I've survived the process a couple dozen times now, but it's still painful.

  6. Hi, I'm dropping in from Jen's blog. I loved your fun answers to her questions, then, wow, you've got a great blog going here. Thank you for the lovely photos.

  7. I outline and write. The synopsis comes last after the story is done. Your tips are great!

  8. I NEVER thought of writing the synopsis first. That is brilliant! Because like you said, we're still in lala land at that point and what better time to capture the full spirit of the story than when we're in that beginning, excited, no-pressure stage. And like everything else we write, it can (and will) be revised later.


  9. Hi Ben and Nikki welcome to my humble cyber abode, in reply to your question traditionally a synopsis is a detailed summary of your story from start to finish, which you send to a publisher/agent most of the time, especially if they do not let you submit a copy of your work in their submissions guidelines.
    I use it as a personal outline so it works both ways for me (win - win) and dont apologize there is no such thing as a dumb question the fault belongs to the writer who has not made everything clear. :)

  10. @ Jennie from your first sentence I smelt the plotter in you, i really wish I could at least plan a little.
    @Marianne this could also have to do with the fact that one of the first things you hear when you set out to be a writer is that writing a synopsis is hard hence my cancer shmancer attitude to it
    @ Kittie thanks for stopping by was it my handsome relative Brad Pitt that caught your eye?
    @CD, Talli and Myne I'm glad you seasoned experts find this helpful :)

  11. You know what, I should do this too. Maybe my things would be less all-over-the-place. Consider your blog followed Mrs.!

  12. This is pretty much how I do it too. (See, great minds think alike. LOL)

    I write 3 sizes for my synopses.
    • one long synopsis, for when you get past the slush pile and into an editor's hands.

    • one mid-length synopsis, 3-5 pages long. That's the one I usually send to agents.

    • one very short synopsis, usually about 800-900 words. That's for the agents/editors who demand short.

  13. Joanna, this is so helpful already, but I'm weely weely skeered.

    I couldn't imagine writing a synopsis first, but what a great idea. Maybe it would give more direction to the story for a pantser..:)

    A demain...

  14. Love the pics! And HATE writing a synopsis. With a passion. I find it very difficult to inject my voice into a synopsis (and I know it's not expected, but it would be nice). I try to make sure my query email is really punchy to make up for my lackluster syn.

  15. Nice photos!
    Saw your comment on L'Aussie's blog - thanks so much!!

  16. Awesome tips!!! Wonderful photos!

  17. Hi Joanna,
    Is it me or did you just revamp your blog? I love the silhouette of Paris in the background. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos.

  18. I absolutely love this revamped blog. It looks very contemporary. Anyway, don't mind me...LOL. I think i prefer writing Synopsis than Queries. Why? Because i love to be descriptive. Are you still in Corsica? are going to teach me lots of french. Au Revoir!


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