Thursday, May 04, 2006

Death By Synopsis

They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I say what doesn't kill you makes you crazy. Especially when it comes to writing a synopsis.

Sad fact - even after you're published you've got to write synopses.

Sadder fact - I've yet to figure out whether the plural of synopsis is synopsises, synopsi, synopses, or some other variation.

Saddest fact - I'm too lazy to figure it out. So, barring my sweet editor Melissa Endlich's appearance here, I guess I'll just keep writing it wrong.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a proposal to Melissa. Three chapters. One very long synopsis. She asked me to make some changes in the synopsis, but I couldn't stomach the story-line and ended up rewriting the entire three chapters. Which meant completely rewriting the synopsis. Now, I'd argue that I'm actually pretty good at writing the dreaded S. However, being good at it doesn't make the process easy. Nor does it make me enjoy it. I still don't like it. I still tear my hair out, bang my head against the computer keyboards, moan, groan, and whine about writing it. In the end, I've got a pretty good product. It just takes me a while to get there.

I figure I'm not alone in the loathing I feel when it comes to writing a synopsis, so I thought I'd put a step-by-step guide to synopsis writing here on my hidden blog. Let me preface this by saying - this is my way of doing things. Which is to say, it may not be your way. Try your hand at it, then shape the process to fit your writing style.

Today, I'm going to talk about step one in synopsis writing - knowing your characters.

Who are they? What do they want? What motivates them? What keeps them from achieving their goals? If you're writing romance, what draws your characters together? What is pulling them apart? I begin each synopsis with a one paragraph character sketch of my hero and heroine, using the previous questions to make my protagonists come to life.

Sound easy? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it's torture. Unfortunately, it must be done.

Go ahead. Give it a try.

Because tomorrow we move on to the second step in synopsis writing - the catalyst.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

Thanks, Shirlee. I think one of my problems with my wip is that one of my characters doesn't have significant motivation. My main character does.

I originally thought her motivation was enough for the whole story. Now I need to go back and work on him.

Can't wait for the next part.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Ewwwwwww you said the S word!!!!

I wrote one of those this week...

it sucked. I rewrote it. it still sucked. I sent it to Camy and she cleaned it up. :o)