Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing Process VIII: Synopsis

Another secret: I like writing the synopsis, too. It's like an outline, and you all know I love outlines.

I usually write a synopsis-like draft before beginning the story, but I do have a method for writing a synopsis after the whole manuscript is complete. This works best for me because I usually have 15-20 chapters, thus my synopsis will end up between 3-5 pages.

So. Here is my quick and dirty guide to writing a synopsis.

The first paragraph is an intro paragraph. Briefly introduce the main character and the immediate action at hand. Work in the details about the character with action, don't just info dump. Even in a synopsis that's not fun to read. Set up the world and conflict.

A possible intro paragraph for Temper would be something like:

Set in a fantasy world where superheroes protect the city from villains, those with useful abilities can get a job at Hero Headquarters, where the benefits are sweet and the paychecks are sweeter. Connor Thomas has a useful ability-- he can heat or cool any non-living object with the touch of his hand. He also wants nothing to do with Hero Headquarters. Ever since his hero parents were murdered on the job, Connor has vowed to stay away from that kind of life. But Connor and his older brother, Sinker, are broke. As in ramen-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner broke. And those paychecks really are quite sweet.

This sets up the world, gives us the main character, and gives us conflict already: Connor needs money, and while he doesn't want a job at HH, he's running out of options. He's desperate. This ups the stakes right away.

Then I turn to my manuscript and write a single paragraph for every chapter. I don't just write a summary, I keep track of the main characters and plot arcs as they move through the story. Every chapter should be relevant to character and plot. If you find you can completely leave it out of the synopsis, maybe you should be leaving it out of the novel.

I take my single paragraph summaries and put them all in order, then I read through a couple (dozen) times, trimming unnecessary sentences and making sure the transitions between paragraphs flow correctly.

I don't usually need a conclusion paragraph, because the last chapter is the resolution, and should tie everything up nicely. Again, this is just how I do it. This method may or may not work for you. There are many different ways to write a synopsis. Play around with it and discover what works best for you... just like everything else when it comes to writing a novel. No two authors go about it in the same way.

Anyway, here are some synopsis-y links I like:
Manuscript Formatting pt. 3: The Synopsis (All about formatting)
Writing a Synopsis (A nice collection of article links)
Writing a Synopsis from the ground up (My favorite-- very helpful!)

Thus concludes this series on my writing process! Weeee I can finally talk about something else!

See you soon!

What do you think of the synopsis?
How do you write one?

1 comment:

  1. Nice tips! I'll be sure to check out those links when I get around to my synopsis.

    -Rebecka Manley