Friday, July 3, 2009


Wednesday, June 24th

Synopsis Day! I could tell how much all three of us looked forward to the day; we all champed at the bit, and the class was extremely informative.

Ok, a synopsis. They help:

- Discover plot holes/what doesn’t work.
- Discover if subplots are needed for either word count or story.
- Helps identify elements needed for research.
- If something doesn’t work plausibly (i.e., a plot corner), go back and fix.
Note: don’t use coincidence to fix this – too contrived.
- This doesn’t include character corners. These can be written out of; a plot corner cannot.
- Majority of novel still won’t be known despite it being written, so no loss of creativity is involved.
- A synopsis is part of the proposal – so you might as well write it now instead of later!
- When you’re new, it’s used to sell your first novel. When you’re established, it’s used to sell a piece before it’s written.
- It helps with chronology.

Important: a synopsis isn’t written in stone. If you write it and the story goes down a different path, you revise the synopsis.

I realize a lot of people dislike writing a synopsis, but after having written DT, I wish I'd used a synopsis - it would have made all of the problems I didn't realize all the way through clear. Especially with a mystery, there are certain expectations and it's particularly easy to utilize a synopsis. I'm going to use synopsis from now on with future novels. The worst that happens, even if I end up hating it, is I only waste an hour or two - well worth it when you consider it takes about a year/year and a half to complete a novel (And that's if you're plugging along steadily!).

And honestly, I'd rather rewrite a 3k long document rather than my novel everytime I realize something needs to be revised - then you can follow the change to its logical conclusion.

Here's the other thing - the standard for a synopsis to a publisher is 1 single-spaced page per 10k words. I realize many agents aske for a much shorter one, but if you have a 8 page document, you can pare it down to three pages. This all goes back to scale and scope. Each differently sized document that agents request can always be distilled from what you have; it's far more difficult to look at you 90k novel and go "Shit, how do I get three pages out of this?"

I have a second writer’s class I take on Wednesday nights; we did an exercise about detailed descriptions using eyesight only (I liked our other senses work more, but this was useful), and we called about scale – what size we use when describing something; the difference being based on the focus of the writing. We then had to write to both a 50 sentence and 7 word sentence about our life. My seven word sentence:

“No Mom, I don’t like Kansas.”


ElanaJ said...

It is true that it's easier to write the synopsis before you need it. I think it's interesting that the synop can help you find holes. I haven't looked at it as a TOOL before, more of like a pain. Interesting. Will stew.

Lady Glamis said...

Oh, good post! I don't have too big of a problem with synopses because I like to use the Snowflake Method, and that automatically gets you a synopsis that you can work with. It's still a lot of work, though.

Tough thing is that I didn't use the Snowflake as well as I should have with Monarch. If this new draft doesn't work out, I'll definitely have to follow all the steps and try again!

Glynis said...

I am not even thinking about it yet, it is too scary for this newbie ;0

Danyelle said...

I hated the idea of having to write a synopsis, but once I actually did it, it wasn't so bad. Of course, I'd already written the story first. >.<

maria esperanza georgia noel hale said...

Are you trying to tell me you don't like KS? LOL Love yah mom