Synopsis…. The Bane Of This Writer’s Life and a Eureka Moment

Writing  a synopsis that wows an editor into wanting to read my manuscript is something  guaranteed to have me tearing out clumps of hair….and at times turning down right homicidal.

What do you put in and what do you leave out?

Five times I’ve sent a synopsis to my critique partner this week and five times it’s come back underscored and crossed through with red ink. The last time she told me to cut anything that didn’t affect the characters emotions…. oh and keep it under 700 words.

Like that’s possible??

I almost reached for the arsenic bottle!!!! Luckily arsenic isn’t readily available.  So bleary eyed I sat at my lap top and did what she suggested. I remembered an article on a ten sentence synopsis…… 

And had a Tui moment. Yeah Right! Then I thought what have I to lose? Nada. 
Hours later I had a synopsis

It was more than ten sentences but was under 700 words and in the present, no back story no character explanations just STORY that charted the characters emotional journey.
And this was my Eureka Moment.

I started with the initiating event that created conflict between the two main characters…. protagonist/antagonist just don’t cut it for me. They sound like an unsavory disease. 

Next the event that set them against each other escalating the conflict…. And they reach the first turning point…where the conflict is more intense…the stakes higher.  

As the characters grow closer, the conflict is so much more desperate….and they reach the second turning point… where the characters have changed so much they’ve reached a point where they cannot turn back…yet not willing to take that next step forward….

 This leads to greater conflict with greater momentum because for each character the stakes are higher… until both characters reach a point of no return…where they’ve changed so much it projects them into even more conflict  that propels them to a crisis where all is lost… 

Both characters descended into a hell…. of their own making…the hero emerges victorious… heroine’s lost everything….with nothing more to lose she makes one last desperate push which  brings her and hero together for the final showdown…. and of course the resolution. 

I began with on sentence for each point only fleshing it out where necessary for it to make sense.

The sense of achievement?  Huge! 

Now here’s hoping the editor will like it.

Published on Friday, July 29th, 2011, under TEN SENTENCE SYNOPSIS

3 Responses to “Synopsis…. The Bane Of This Writer’s Life and a Eureka Moment”

  1. Bron says:

    Hi Shirley – you should post the 700 word synopsis for us to see. It sounds a fabulous process.

  2. Georgina Lee says:

    Yes, I'd love to see an example. Perhaps of a story we all know, like Casablanca?

  3. Shirley Wine says:

    I'm film phobic and I have to confess to never having watched Casablanca.

    I can hear the howl of disbelief but in my defense I'll admit to being unable to see trees and birds until I was in my late teens and thought that was normal. Even when I had glasses I have never liked the movies. My husband loved them so I;d babysit with my favorite book and he went to the movies.

    Win win all around.

    Myopic in the extreme. But I'll work on a book

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