Friday, July 22, 2005

Synopses: My Achilles Heel

I can't write a synopsis for the life of me. And believe me, I've read ALL the articles available. I've tried every trick. And still, after all these years, when I enter a contests where the synopsis is judged, I get slammed for my synopses.

Which is really embarrassing, considering that in my day job, I work in advertising as a copywriter and a graphic designer. You'd think a copywriter, of all people, would know how to write a synopses that "sold" her manuscript, wouldn't you?

Tomorrow, at my local chapter meeting, Donna Wright is speaking on synopses. I hope she gives a mini-workshop, because I need all the help I can get.

Do any of you have the secret to writing a great synopsis? In five steps or less? (Because apparently I have a hint of Adult ADD).


Shesawriter said...

Hi Paula,

I just stumbled across your blog. I read your post about synosis writing with interest. They're the bane of my existence too. Have you ever thought of doing your synop in two parts? I don't multitask well, and synopsis writing is all about multitasking.


Jill Monroe said...

Oh, Tanya, my cp and friend over at always tells me I have to change my mindset about synopses. I believe she thinks if a person tells themself they LOVE writing a synopsis, they will start to do it. I wonder if that works.

I usually write my synopsis after writing the first chapter.

But any trick I learned was this - in a contest, see if the scoresheet is online and then cross check what they expect with what you've delivered. Contest writing synopses don't count. Often what contest judges expect are REALLY different from what my editor has suggested.

Good luck - and keep telling yourself you LOVE to write a synopsis : )

MaryF said...

I feel your pain, Paula. I spent yesterday getting a synopsis ready for a contest. Here's tips from my friend Trish J.

So now make it very little kid-ish. so and so wants XYZ but can't have it because of XYZ.

Then go and do her inner conflict.

Then, how do they meet? when do they kiss? When do they do the horizontal bop? When do they have the big conclusion? And wrap it up.

THEN, go back and just add in between that. Instead of making it linear make it revolve around conflict. This will end up being about 5 pages.

Shesawriter said...


Great advice. I find that doing my synopsis in two parts helps tremendously. I use two files in word. One file I write the plot from start to end. Just stream of consciousness stuff. What happens first, then next, then next. In the other file, I write the romance. I don't focus on plot, I just focus on first meeting, first touch, first kiss, first emotional milestone ... blah, blah, blah. Then when I get to the end of that, I save both files, then use the plot file as the master. I cut and paste the romance portions where they occur in the plot. After that, I go back and smooth everything so that it all flows together. Then voila. I've got a synop. :-)


chele said...

Have you ever checked out the Writer's Workshop Online? They have great information and the link is:

Good Luck!

Kelvin said...

Kia Ora (Hello) Paula, from a blogger Krazy Kelvin from down-under in New Zealand. I wouldn't even know what a "synopsis" is if I tripped over one. I started my first ever blog in my life - Kelvin A Memory Always" - on Black Friday the 13th of May. Within 5 weeks, Yahoo had it on their search engine @ #1 out of 109000. So I have blogged on and started more blogs. I write to express myself - from the heart - not to impress anyone, judges included. There is no simple way - you just write what you feel !!! Check my blogs out throught the yahoo search engine. Take care & good luck !!! Krazy Kelvin from New Zealand. Don't forget to leve a comment & prepared for a long stay !

Paula said...

Okay, I love writing synopses. I love writing synopses. Is it working yet? ;)

I do like the idea of doing it in two parts, because what seems to be my biggest problem, according to people who've thrashed my synopses in contests, is that I put too much focus on the external plot (they ARE romantic suspense stories, after all) and give short shrift, conversely, to the romance.

I'm going to try the two part synopsis idea next. Thanks!


Shesawriter said...


Have you ever heard of Karen Pershing's Relationship Plane? That's what I use when I do the romance plot. It makes writing the romance part (of the two parter) a breeze. Let me know if you're interested and I'll send it to you. It basically outlines step by step (IN ORDER) what needs to be in the romance part. Sorta like a paint by the numbers type of thing. Since I'm horrible at linear thinking (don't ask! LOL!) I swear by it.


Paula said...


I'd love to see anything that makes writing a synopsis easier for me! ;)

My e-mail address can be found in my Blogger profile.

Shesawriter said...


Check your email. I just sent you three Rich Text Files. You can email me back if you have any questions or if the files come through screwy.