Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest:!!!

  This is how the Deja Vu blogfest works. Simply sign-up at the Blog Sign up here.  Take the badge above and plaster it everywhere, blogging graffiti gone wild. The repost your favorite blog post or one that never received the exposure it should have.  Then hop from one blog to another.  Encouragement, enlightenment, knowledge, bared souls, stimulation, hilarity, insecurities, success stories!  All on display.  Discover some new blogs and rediscover some older ones. And have a blast!! Sign up here.

Here is my resurrected blog back from July. I couldn't pick 'the best one', so I picked one that was informative - one that may help someone attempting to write that hair-pulling, nerve-wrecking synopsis. And believe me, I am no expert. It still takes me forever to write one of these, kicking and screaming all the way.


 Synopsis Hell

I'm sorry I haven't posted in almost two weeks, but there have been a lot of little problems. And of course they all come at once. Life would simply be boring if it didn't happen that way. But, alas I'm back.

The title says it all. As I'm doing some final editing on The Doves Cove Murders (was Spirit Writer), I'm also beginning the vicious process of drafting my synopsis.

I have written a synopsis once before, and seeing as how that one at the very least got me a request of my full WIP-I must have done something right (I think). So I figured I'd post how I go about writing up a synopsis. This isn't going to work for everyone. I don't have the perfect formula for doing this.

It's all about condensing your story. (And it's a royal pain in the butt. Yet, when you have the finished product, it's well worth the effort!) The only way I can condense a 55K story into a two page synopsis (or whatever the requirements are for each publisher/editor/agent) is to do it in baby steps.

'So, I'll have to rewrite this darn thing several times?' you say? You bet you will. All I do is take each scene and write one sentence describing what's going on. Can't do just one? That's fine. Do two sentences, but no more than that or you'll be in editing hell instead. (Keep in mind you'll have to take this and condense it even more!). Go through your entire story writing down these sentences.

Once you're done, you do NOT get to string the sentences together and call it a synopsis. Unless you are real good at doing this, please don't string them together just yet.

Now, set that all aside. Breathe. Enjoy the sun. Then, back to work. This step you can do first before going through your story and writing those sentences, but I prefer to do it after. The first paragraph is going to be the PUNCH! Or the hook. You need to hook them in to read your story. This is the log line-your entire story rolled into 25 to 30 words. LOL! I know-impossible! But, with a little work it is possible. I guess that's a bit intimidating. I look at it like the blurb for your story. That's easier to wrap my head around at least.

Once you have that polished, it's onto your sentences you set aside. Ugh! I know. Read through it once WITHOUT making any corrections. You'll be able to pick out the important key parts needed. On the second read through, grab your pen, pencil, marker, etc (I prefer a red pen) and cross out the unimportant parts. You need to have the key points of your story. Think of them as the cause and effect points of your story. You don't want secondary characters (unless they pertain to the main plot and then you don't usually use their names) or any subplots. Another way to think of this: ACTION, REACTION, DECISION. This leads up to the climax. Remember, you're not throwing these sentences together. You have to weave them so they flow naturally and logically. Same goes for your paragraphs.

Now comes the ending. DO NOT leave them hanging. Tell what happens at the end. This is where you have the crisis-the black moment-when everything appears as if it's all about to come tumbling down. And of course the resolution and HEA. Be sure you have all loose ends tied up at the end.

Done? Okay, again breathe. Enjoy the sun. Now, you have to polish this the same as you have polished your story. UGH! I know, but it has to be done, like it or not.

A couple of last tips:

1) Write in the present tense.

2) Pay attention to what the publisher/editor/agent's requirements are on the length of the synopsis.

3) Avoid the passive voice

4) BREATHE! And have fun writing it. You should be excited about your story and if that is in fact the case, it will show in your writing. :)

AVAILABLE NOW @ Soul Mate Publishing: The Swan Cove Murders Release Date December 28th: Secrets of Jenkins Bridge


  1. I'll try that next time I have to write one because they are challenging!

  2. Hi Donna,

    I need to do something else besides "enjoy the sun" for my breaks, even during the summer, here in good old Cleveland, Ohio. You are right, do whatever works, and if you're getting full manuscript requests, what you're doing is working!

    Kim Van Sickler

  3. Great tips! I dread synopses. This is very helpful. :)

    Thanks so much for joining the Blogfest!

  4. Passive voice is one of the biggest sins of newbie writers. Even people who have been writing for a while have to watch for it (including yours truly). Good tips to keep in mind.

  5. I'm going to bookmark this post because I'm just about to tackle this for my own novel! Perfect timing! Thank you for re-posting this and making our blogfest so special! :)

  6. These are great tips. I always need to run my synopsis by my critique group, too, and always get good input from them.

  7. Great advice! I tend to write rough synopses before I start to write the actual ms, but I've always hated writing them, whether before or after the fact. When we were out on sub, I had to write synopses for all the proposed sequels--not fun. Anyway, great re-post, and nice meeting you, Donna!

  8. I'm a new follower from the DejaVu blogfest. Nice to meet you. :)

  9. I've only had to do a synopsis for one novel so far, and it was brutal. There's lots of good advice out there, and this sounds like a good approach.

    Some things that worked well for me in the end was to approach it in baby steps, but of a different kind. Start with a one or two sentence version, then build up to a paragraph, before adding in another layer of detail to take you to a page.

    But I think the most important advice is what you said: have fun. I heard you should pretend you are describing your book to a close friend, someone you know would enjoy. Let your enthusiasm shine through.

  10. Synopsis! Oh it makes my brain hurt just thinking about it--not my favorite part :) Thanks for the tips!!

  11. This was really excellent, simple to follow advice. Thank you :-)

  12. Alex-Thanks for stopping by.

    Kim-Thank you.

    Lydia- Thank you for dropping in. Nice to meet you.

    Steven-I'm still making that mistake at times.

    DL-Thank you for stopping in. I'm glad you like it.

    LynNerdKelley-I do the same thing.

    Sarah=Depending on my story, I'll write it either before or after. Great to meet you too.

    Margo-Great to meet you too!

    Botantist-Thank you for your tips :)

    Coleen-I know the feeling.

    Sarah P-*waves* Thanks

  13. Yes, breathing is important!

    I mind the query more than the synopsis. But maybe it's because I stress less about the synopsis. It doesn't need to be as clever and it's requested for fewer times. The query, however, has to be sent every. single. time.