Love Gone Wild – Simply Synopsis

Another exciting session announcement for this year’s conference.

Simply Synopsis: A stress-free method for synopsis creation.

Most authors would rather compose an 80k+ word novel than summarise their story into 2-5 pages. Why? Because they’ve never learned an effective yet easy process for crafting a synopsis.

In the Simply Synopsis workshop, Michelle Somers will teach you a step-by-step strategy to pare a story down before building it back up, paragraph-by-paragraph, into synopsis form. The process is simple, systematic and straightforward, and is a fail-proof way to ensure all the vital elements that make a great story are present in the final product.

Michelle Somers is an award-winning romantic suspense author. She’s a professional killer and matchmaker, a storyteller and a romantic. Words are her power and her passion. Her heroes and heroines always get their happy ever after, but she’ll put them through one hell of a journey to get there.

synopsis

September OWL: Selling your book!

It’s nearly conference time here in RWA-land, but when our lives go back to normal, many of us will need to submit our books – a process that is about as popular among writers as getting a root canal.

But don’t despair!  Because riding to the rescue in the nick of time is our September OWL!  And here’s the presenter, Samantha Bond, to tell you how… (for more info, and to book, click here)

Samantha BondYou’ve written a stand-out story and now it’s time for (gasp) submission. Eek! You know if you don’t get this part right, the agent or publisher won’t even get to that manuscript you’ve just spent the last year (or ten) slaving over. Oh, the pressure!

Relax. Breathe. It’s OK.

Most writers know they need to provide a “book package” that varies slightly from publisher to publisher, but will inevitably contain a synopsis, cover letter, author bio and perhaps blurb. The good news is you can prepare a kick-arse package that’s ready to go, and tweak it to suit the individual specifications of your intended submittee.

When I was starting out some years ago, I thought whoever devised the concept of the synopsis must be a complete sadist. I mean, what kind of cruel and unusual torture involves reducing 400 pages of novel to two 1.5 spaced standard A4s?! This task necessarily means you have to leave stuff out. Lots of stuff. So what parts do you leave out, what bits do you leave in, and how should you write the darned thing? Just what makes a good synopsis that will hook your ideal agent or publisher and MAKE them pick up your amazing manuscript?

I asked all these questions and more of the many mentors I’ve had and I can thankfully report that, with some examples, an explanation of the theory behind the synopsis and other tools, it’s not the hand-wringing task it at first appears. Which brings me to the OWL I’m teaching in September called “Synopsis, blurb, cover letter, bio — your book selling tools”. I work best when I understand the purpose of a thing, and have good examples to work from, so that’s the approach I’ve taken with this OWL. I’ve included lots of theory and I’ve called upon my network of writer pals to provide me with examples of their materials. You’ll get to see what different types of synopses, cover letters, author bio’s and blurbs have worked for a variety of published authors. I’ve also strong-armed my longstanding mentor and editor, Robb Grindstaff (http://robbgrindstaff.com/writing/) into providing a bit of assistance, and he’s going to be available on our forum to answer your questions — many of Robb’s clients have landed agent and publishing deals, so make good use of him!

Also, because I teach in the Professional Writing stream at TAFE, I’ve seen first-hand that one-on-one feedback is often the most useful part of a course. So I’m also offering all participants the opportunity to submit their synopsis to me in week four (after we’ve covered the theory, done some exercises, and seen examples, of course) for individual feedback about your strengths and weaknesses. Feedback can pickpocket Dear Writer of their blind spots which is always helpful, not necessarily painless, but I do promise to be gentle! For this reason, I’ve capped the number of participants or I may drown under a sea of synopses — yet another reason they are instruments of torture — so book in quick!

If you want to know more about me and my creds to teach you this stuff, head over to my website: www.samanthastaceybond.com. Hope to see you in September!

For a full course outline and to book, see the RWA website: http://www.romanceaustralia.com/owl/24

Craft: Writing that dreaded synopsis…

Did someone say root canal? Would I rather have a root canal than write a synopsis? Well sometimes it seems that way. Why is it soo hard to do? Write a one page outline of what happens in your story. That shouldn’t be hard really. I mean you’ve just written 70,000 words + , how hard can it really be to write that one measly page? 500 words max? Surely you can do it right?

Ahhh, see this is where I start getting the shakes and have butterflies curling up in my stomach. I find writing the synopsis is one of the most stressful things about writing. I have a tendency to freak out and clean my entire house top to bottom rather than write one. What about you? Can you write one easily or do you procrastinate them as long as you can?

Now I need help with this topic, I need to find a way to make writing the synopsis easy. Anyone got any suggestions?

I found that wonderful man Bob Mayer has gone and created a youtube video on this exact thing. Hooray for Bob, I’m voting him into heaven for this one. Check it out…

If only I could do it that easily. What’s that you say? Give his idea a go? Ohhh I don’t know if I can, I mean I have to summarise the entire book, that’s a lot of work.

Well no it’s not really that bad, there are a few rules that you need to adhere to and if you go by that you’ll come out of the whole experience unscathed. Oh and you might just enjoy the process (well not everyone, some might, if they’ve got masochistic tendencies – I’m just saying).

Where do you start?

Right first things first, remember that this is just the basic storyline of what happens to your protagonist. Its not the entire story filled with subplots, supporting character arcs or backstory. It’s the basics, what happens, what does your protag do? How do they get through it? Then what happens? How does it all work out?

I’ll be using information garnered from various sources, and will provide links and bibliography at the end if you want to have a good looksy.

So lets get the basic story line down, then we’ll worry about present tense and all the rest.

  • Sum up your story in one sentence. What is it about? eg. Two young lovers defy their feuding families’ ban on marrying and plan an escape that propels them toward tragedy
  • Now you have that, fill in with who your protagonist is, what do they have to lose/gain through the storyline?
  • What’s standing in their way of obtaining that?
  • Why does that goal matter? What makes it so important?
  • How does the protagonist overcome the obstacles?
  • What happens in the end?

Okay so that’s short and sweet, easy huh? No, not really, but we’ll work on it.

So we go through our chapters writing down the main points of what’s happening to our protagonist. Just dot it down in point form. If you have 21 chapters then you should have around 2 sentences per chapter, leaving you 48 sentences to piece together in a short essay format for your submission.

Do these sentences answer the questions above? If not chuck them, you can use them when you have to send in a large synopsis, for today let’s just stick with the basic storyline.

Your synopsis must be written in present tense, write as if it’s happening, not already happened.

So check out the following things as you write:

  • Write it in present tense
  • Drop out non-essential things .
  • If it doesn’t directly involve your characters journey to fulfilment it’s not needed.
  • Watch your grammar and sentence flow.

Writing a Synopsis links:

Here’s a few other writers offerings on how to make this harrowing process a piece of cake (or at least make a root canal not seem a more attractive option anyway).

Long Island Romance Writers offer the top ten tips for writing a synopsis.

Jennifer Fallon shares how she does it.

The Selling Synopsis Contest run by RWA Australia is closing soon, but they have a great score sheet that helped me set up how to write one . You can download it from the website.

Agent Kirsten Nelson has some great advice about your synopsis.

Curtis Brown Agent – Nathan Bransford shares his opinion on how to write one.

Vivian Beck has 5 Steps to Writing a Synopsis

Beth Anderson demonstrates Writing the Tight Synopsis

Kathy Carmichael gives more Synopsis Tips

Synopsis Examples:

Anne Gracie

Charlotte Dillon

Deb Hale

There are a lot of writers out there who have examples of their own posted up on their blogs, I found that through reading what they had done I could make the process of writing my own soo much easier.

What are your top five tips for writing a synopsis?

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