Friday, May 18, 2012

Perfecting Your Synopsis! by DL Larson

Attending a writers conference is good for my writer's soul.  It rekindles my interest in perfecting my skills.  While at the RWA Spring Fling last month, I attended a session by Laurie Brown, "7 Steps To  A Perfect  Synopsis."  I don't know of anyone who really enjoys the task of creating a synopsis, but Laurie's method seemed pretty straight forward.  Even though I had heard and practiced similar steps before, absorbing her fresh approach inspired me. 

Remember a synopsis is a "selling tool," much like the backcover blurb of a book.  Subplots are not needed, the shorter and most direct works great.  Use present tense and try to avoid the characters names. As for length, one page for 10,000 words is a good marker to use.  Now for Laurie's 7 steps in a Romance Synopsis:

1.  GMC of the Heroine. 
2.  GMC of the Hero.

okay, I bet you're wondering what is GMC.  Think about the basics of the story.  Decide what is your heroine/hero's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.  List them, get them clearly established in your head and on your paper, keeping in mind Internal Conflict as well as External Conflict.

3.  The Meet: when/how the two main characters meet; the conflict they find in each other; the change it will take to overcome the obstacles before/between them in a meaningful manner; the resolution must be worthy of the conflict.

4.  Stuff Happens:  Be brief, using phrases "as a result of ..."  Explain internal feelings and how they have found common ground to allow their relationship to grow or further their problems in reaching their goal.

5.  Things Change: Briefly explain the action that takes place.  "Because of .... (action) this happens.

6.  The Dark Moment:  What happens to convince one or both of them they can not be together.

7.  Resolution:  What action brought them together?  What have they learned?  How have they grown in their relationship together? 

Other techniques I have used in the past, especially with a lenghty book with multiple subplots:
- follow the main characters, let the others go unless it is elemental to the storyline.
- highlight each chapter to find the main thread of a story.  I've gone so far as to write out the main theme in each chapter and from there create one or two sentences that moves the story along.
- Not using names feels awkward, but by keeping minor character nameless creates a smoother read. 
- Always follow the development of the realtionship, and/or the conflict to reach the resolution.
- Keep a list of external conflicts to be sure the major ones end up in your synopsis.

Remember a synopsis is the bridge to having someone read your manuscript.  Make it exciting and emotional in order to gain interest in the book.

Good Luck and Thank You Laurie for sharing your expertise at SpringFling!

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Morgan Mandel said...

It was nice to see you at Spring Fling, DL.

Yes, Laurie Brown does have some great ideas when it comes to doing a synopsis.

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

Yes, I thought it would be good to share. It was good seeing you too!