Monday, 9 May 2016

The Not-So-Dreaded Synopsis and User-friendly Template



with Dee Scully



Question: What beginning writer hasn’t heard, spoken or at least felt these statements before? 
Answer: Not many.

Synopsis writing has become the stuff of urban legends.  Writers only whisper the word, shrinking away from it, pushing it down into the subconscious recesses of their minds where it lies in wait for just the right moment to emerge and wreak havoc with the delicate balance of a daily writing schedule.

But it doesn't have to be that way.


Picture courtesy of Picture Quotes

Yeah, it seems hard. Somehow we have to whittle our 65,000-100,000 word manuscripts down to a meaningful 2-3 pages, encapsulating not only the whole story, including the resolution, but also the voice used when writing it! But what venture worth anything was ever really easy?

I’m not going to profess to be THE BEST SYNOPSIS WRITER OF ALL TIMES. Nor will I say that I’m any good at it, but I will share my template for honing synopses down to the requisite number of pages. My hope is that it will help you to become THE BEST SYNOPSIS WRITER OF ALL TIME.


Dee Scully's Synopsis Template


Don’t get me wrong. This template isn’t going to do the work for you. You still have to get stuck in and do it yourself, but it will give you a base to build on and hopefully at the end you will say, “Synopses aren’t so hard. They lighten my soul. I know my story and can sell it even better now that I’ve written the synopsis!”

Give it a go and let me know your thoughts. If you’ve got any brilliant ideas on how to easily write a synopsis share them in the comments below.

Until later…happy synopsis writing!
D

I love to love…deeply. I don’t ‘fall’ into relationships. I make conscious decisions to always be present to those I love and care for. It’s not easy, but it’s who I am.

Image courtesy of Picture Quotes


I love to laugh…out loud. Those who know me, know this to be true…and usually get caught up and laugh out loud right along with me!

Image courtesy of Pixaby and Dee Scully




I love to learn…new ways to make writing easy and Google always has a ready answer!

Image courtesy of Google






30 comments:

  1. Very handy, Dee!
    Must admit, I used to hate writing synopses but the more I did them the better I became. Mind you, I haven't done one for donkey's although I probably should because, as you say, they can be very helpful as a selling tool. Entering the Romance Writers of Australia Selling Synopsis contest (and judging) was a great way to get better too.

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    1. Awesome Cathryn Hein! I love that practice made writing synopses easier for you! And what a great way to improve AND give back to the romance community-- by judging the Selling Synopsis!
      And I love April's Rainbow too! So poignant and powerful! Excellent read for anyone looking for the next great romance!

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  2. Dee, this is perhaps the simplest and best synopsis explanation I've ever seen! Thankyou! And, psst, I think that thinking about your story and breaking it down into a synopsis is a very helpful thing, not something to be dreaded at all. It all helps to crystallise your story and get it straight in your head.

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    1. Oh, thank you Malvina--that's so wonderful to hear!

      Oooo, I love that description of 'crystallising' your story so you can get it 'straight in your head'. So true!

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  3. Goooooood Monday morning!!

    Welcome synopsis writers and future synopsis writing lovers! I hope this post helps you tell your stories more vividly to agents and publishers and gets your books published!

    Squeeeee--can't wait to hear your synopsis writing tips!

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  4. Such great information. Definitely an aspect of writing I would love to improve on.
    Thanks Dee.

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  5. Thanks Dee,
    I am working from your template. Still struggling, but appreciating the help it is giving me. In previous research on how to do them I came across the synopsis for Star Wars as an example. It was rather dull and boring, no details of his companions or the side adventures away from Luke's main story. It followed his journey only. Is this what we are meant to do, only follow the hero or heroines journey. But then they say don't leave anything out?
    Thank you Malvina for the 'crystallising' your story. I need to work on that today.
    Thanks for the blog and template Dee.

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    1. Hey, Brenda! As I mentioned, I'm not a Synopsis Writing Superhero but early on I got feedback from a couple awesome romance writers (Nikki Logan and Melissa James). They suggested (quite strongly) that I remove all direct reference to my villain; instead I was to keep the focus directly on the hero and heroine and their romance. This made synopsis writing soooooo much easier in the end because I was able to hone in on what was essential to the story...the main focus of my story--the romance.

      But...this was for a short two page romance synopsis. If you're writing a longer (e.g. 10 page) synopsis there may be more leeway (I'm not sure). I have a feeling though that even in the longer synopsis--if it's for a romance--you'd want to focus on the romance, the participants of that romance, and how the romance is developing.

      As master romance story-teller, Cathryn Hein mentioned in the comments above, RWA has a Selling Synopsis contest. For a minimal entry fee, you can enter your synopsis and gain invaluable feedback. You can find more information on it here: http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/112/Selling-Synopsis .

      Good luck Brenda! Remember, you CAN do it! I look forward to hearing about your success with your synopses real soon!

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    2. Your help so far has been awesome Dee. I have followed your template and now have to tighten and trim. Its all going good so far. :-)
      Yes, I almost entered selling synopsis this year. I will next year.

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    3. Hi Brenda! I think it's well worth entering any of the RWA contests simply for the feedback. While you might not agree with all of it (and I haven't always agreed with some judges' comments :)), it does force you to re-examine your writing and that can often result in even better writing.

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  6. Dee, this is brilliant! Synopsis writing is one of the hardest skills to use - took me years until I felt confident with what I was doing. I've shared it so hopefully a stack of people will benefit from your wisdom.

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    1. Thank you so much Anna Campbell!

      If there is any one out that hasn't read an Anna Campbell romance then you've been missing out on one of the greatest historical romance writers of our time! She obviously mastered the art of synopsis writing to win big in a bidding war for her first book and she's been on fire since!! Go--read her books today!

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    2. Wow, Dee, thank you so much!

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  7. A book I often recommend is The Hero's Journey by Christopher Vogler. It's brilliant for a number of things, not least the synopses he supplies on a stack of really famous movies that most of us have seen at the back. Great use of turning points which is something I've noticed people often neglect when they're writing a synopsis.

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    1. Thanks Anna. I have heard of that book and will have to get a copy.

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    2. Yes! I love The Hero's Journey! It's a must read and re-read and re-read for any writer!

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  8. Hi Dee, great post and interesting template. It always help to go off something when you are not sure how to go about a process and synopsis writing is very hard. I don't like it. Like you say; trying to condense a whole novel into a few pages and make it sound amazing requires a lot of hard work and patience testing... I will keep this template and refer to it next time a synopsis is required.

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    1. You can do it Karen Davis! You've obviously done a synopsis well enough to sell Sinister Intent and Deadly Obsession so you're better than you think!!

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  9. Great post, Dee. Synopsis writing is something most writers dread and you have done a great job in making the task an easier one.

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  10. Thanks for the awesome template Dee. It is a case of the more you do it the less dreaded the process becomes. And for me, pinpointing the correct points to put in. Oh and not forgetting about the romance arc.

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    1. I agree Cassandra Samuels...practice makes perfect. (And so does a good critique and re-writing--LOL!)

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  11. Thanks for this template, Dee. I'll give it a try next time I'm forced into writing a synopsis :) As for suggestions when writing a synopsis for a romance, I've found that focusing on the unfolding relationship between the hero and heroine is the most essential element. Any plot point that doesn't contribute to the development of the romance should be left out.

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    1. Wholeheartedly agree. Everything should revolve around the developing romance! Excellent point Marilyn!

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  12. Thank you for the template Dee. I am intriged by your comment re filling out the synopsis with the voice used for the story. I haven't thought of this before. Maybe that's why my synopses lack that extra spark. Thank you for the advice.

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    1. Synopses help sell your work. Those reading it (agents, editors, contest judges) need to hear your voice so they not only see the story through your words but feel it through your voice. Query letters...that's where you can be straight down the line business woman/man but synopsis--you need to show the creative vitality flowing through your story and voice is the best way to do that in a very tight space.

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  13. Replies
    1. Thank you Nicole!
      Love the book cover to Hartley's Grange!!
      http://www.nicolehurley-moore.com/

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    2. Thank you Nicole!
      Love the book cover to Hartley's Grange!!
      http://www.nicolehurley-moore.com/

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