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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writerly Woes: The Synop

I asked for your writerly woes a week ago and several people said that dreaded one-two page synopsis. And unlike writer's block/writer's anxiety, this is something I can actually help with. (Woohoo points for Beth)! (Although writing that post at least helped me, :-p). 

So how do you cram your whole book into a page? Super easy. You need the three act (sometimes called four act) structure. That looks something like this:

  1. Inciting Incident--where your story actually starts. This should be REALLY early on.
  2. 1st Turning Point- Your MC may have attempted to ignore the problem before,  but now he/she cannot. And if MC wasn't ignoring the problem now MC is taking a more active attempt at solving the problem.
  3. Midpoint (also referred to as the reversal of fortune) This can be anything. Maybe even something that seems like a good thing but further complicates the problem. A possible solution gone awry.
  4. 2nd Turning point-- Things just got worse.
  5. 3rd Turning point- This needs to be big enough to drive you straight into the climax. In fact, the second turning point could have propelled you straight here. 
  6. CLIMAX: The moment you have all been waiting for is here. 
  7. Resolution: Yeah, it's all over. The fat lady sang. Hero is/isnot a winner. But it's over. The battle has come and gone.
Now once, you have broken your novel down into the points writing a synopsis should be relatively easy. Your first paragraph will start with your inciting incident. You will decribe it in a few sentences and should naturally lead in to your first turning point and so on. You will likely need to leave subplots out (although sometimes a subplot is to intertwined with the main plot it comes up naturally as the story progresses, and that's okay). You will probably leave minor characters out. And that's okay. But you should be able to get your complete story in using this process. 

Do you have a hard time with the synop? Do you have suggestions?


Janie Junebug said...

I love seeing an explanation laid out like a recipe that almost anyone can follow.


Patchi said...

The easiest synopsis I wrote was for the manuscript I sent to Critters.com a couple of chapters at a time. I summarized the first chapter in a paragraph with main character and world, then added a sentence or two for each chapter afterward. Sometimes several chapters could be boiled down to a couple of sentences, as they dealt with subplots. After the end of my summary, I checked for the major structure elements you mentioned. It worked for me.

Liz A. said...

Great break-down. Will need this when I get to that point.