Starting a new book is fun. You have that story brewing in your head for some time. Yes, I compose many scenes as I stare at the walls or walk on the beach and watch the waves or even when I forget the pot on the stove and let the meal burn. I never get bored while I write my stories.

Summarizing a three-hundred-page book into a five-page synopsis is a different ball game. A nightmare. I know because I spent twelve hours today at my computer. Three hours to compose a twelve-page synopsis, then three hours to reduce it to nine pages, then four hours to cut it down to seven pages, and finally two hours where I failed to delete another word.

How can we make an editor understand that to be intelligible a synopsis needs a certain number of words?

I started with His background, motivation and goal; then Her background, motivation and goal, and finally the villain’s goal and their conflicts. A whole page wasted on characters.

Then I jumped into the plot. As I organized the turning points, I realized I didn’t show the emotional development. I will never forget my work with an HQ editor who asked me to ignore the plot and sketch only the emotional development in my synopsis. I went back and rewrote the synopsis to add the love arch.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Setting, action, emotion. His view. Her view.

Elizabeth Sinclair advises to write three synopses. The ten pages; five pages; and two pages. Add to that a two-hundred-word blurb for a conference pitch. A one-hundred-word blurb for the back cover of the book. A twenty-five-word teaser also called elevator pitch for when you corner an editor in the bathroom, the bar or the elevator. And finally a one-sentence theme.

The Pink Fuzzy Slippers count many successful authors. Tell us about your fun at synopsying.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat~

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, winner of 2009 BEST contemporary romance at READERS FAVORITE and 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll.
Rx FOR TRUST: 5 stars at Readers Favorite.

18 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // July 1, 2010 at 12:23 PM  

    Writing a synopsis is like giving birth with your legs crossed. Painful to the max.

    Mona, I can so relate to your problem. How much is too much and and what's enough?

    I was once told I'd showed the heroine's growth curve but didn't appear to have enough plot. That was after I cut back on story and added emotion and motivation to please a critique group.

    Need more goals or a better one? More conflict or a bigger or deeper one? What if the characters don't know their real conflicts 'til halfway through the book?

    HMMM. You might make us all feel better when you give us the answers to burning questions.

  2. Mary Marvella // July 1, 2010 at 12:24 PM  

    I didn't mean to write a thesis.

  3. Judy // July 1, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

    Fun and synopsis don't go together!! It's a tough thing to do, but lately I'm using it as a tool to make sure my story has all the arcs and other elements it should. Still hate them though.

  4. Patrice // July 1, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

    Ha Ha Mary M - your comment is priceless! I enjoyed this blog, Mona, but I must admit I don't have so much of a problem, because I'm not nearly as detailed as you. I skim over most of the stuff, and only give the gmc of the characters and the general plotline and ending. Usually 3-5 pages. But heck, what do I know?

  5. Mona Risk // July 1, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

    I am feeling better about my suck-o-psis today. My CP was able to cut a half page. Not more. LOL. So I am going with it.

    I have been writing blurbs for the bookmarks for my three medical romances, blurbs to pitch and elevator blurbs.

  6. liana laverentz // July 1, 2010 at 3:14 PM  

    I do it the other way around, Mona. I start small and get bigger. First the one page, then the two, then the five, then the ten. I figure I can always expand the basic concept to fit whoever's requirements.

    I suppose I could do the same with the blurbs/pitches. I haven't tried that yet. It would be a good exercise to do so, though!

    Congratulations on a very productive day!

    Liana Laverentz
    www.lianalaverentz.com

  7. Mona Risk // July 1, 2010 at 3:36 PM  

    Thanks Liana. Maybe I should try your way, start small and expand. Although I find it easier to cut rather than create.

  8. Celia Yeary // July 1, 2010 at 4:09 PM  

    MONA--I will never say synopsying is fun. Not in the least. I hate and despise the process. However, between an article I read once and "how to write a synopsis" on the Harlequin website, I formulated a less painful way. Look at it as a 3-act play. 1st act; what does your H or H want more than anything,or what is the problem and who stands in his or her way; 2nd-the antagonist puts every roadblock he can to thwart the protagonist; 3rd--protagonist races to obtain his/her goal to a breathtaking climax and she/he wins. Celia

  9. Pamela Vee // July 1, 2010 at 5:27 PM  

    For some odd reason I don't have trouble writing a synospis. It's the query letter that stumps me. Trying to condense a 400 page book into a one or two paragraph summary leaves me pulling out my hair. I always need help coming up with a one sentence pitch. Thank God for critique partners.

  10. Mary Marvella // July 1, 2010 at 7:48 PM  

    Pam's one of my critique partners. So is Scarlet. And I have 2 more of them. (snicker)

  11. Keena Kincaid // July 1, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

    The fun of synopsying? LOL, Mona. I don't think the synopsis is ever fun. To me it's like having my wisdom teeth cut out without drugs!

    That said, I always start with my 'elevator pitch.' Once I can sum the book up in three sentences or less, then the rest is easier.

  12. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 1, 2010 at 10:39 PM  

    Let me see, writing synopsis, root canal, ingrown toe-nail extraction, natural child-birth, yep that the list this topic heads up. I hate writing the buggers! Always save it for last and them it drives me crazy. Got to check out that HQ 3 act deal, it sounds like a plan.

  13. Mona Risk // July 1, 2010 at 11:10 PM  

    Hi everyone. I am exhausted. Another twelve hour day un-writing my suck-up-my-heart-synopsis. My CPs were great. One cut half a page and the other another half. I am finally at six pages. My eyes are so blurred I was seeing the useless details at the end.

    Celia, I follow the three acts, but there are little scenes under each act.

    Thank you all for your input.

  14. Margaret Tanner // July 2, 2010 at 6:27 AM  

    Hi Mona,
    I hate writing a synopsis, I either say too much or not enough. It is so hard to get the happy medium.

    cheers

    Margaret

  15. Beth Trissel // July 2, 2010 at 10:10 AM  

    My Wild Rose Press editors don't require a synopsis from me anymore, Thank God, because I'm terrible at them and never make mine longer than one-two pages, just touch on the highlights. I only have to write a blurb now and they rewrite that I can assure you. My talents do not lie in this synopsis stuff.

  16. Mary Ricksen // July 2, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

    Synopsis is just a book report to me. Mona your books are flying so your synopsis's, (spelling), must be spot on, just like your wonderful stories. Through you I travel!!!

  17. Maggie Toussaint // July 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM  

    I know people who live to write synopses. Unfortunately I'm not one of them. I'm more like you, Mona. A lot of staring at the computer screen and gnashing of teeth. But boy does it feel good to be done with one of these.

  18. Joanne // July 2, 2010 at 3:34 PM  

    Hi Mona,
    I couldn't help but smile when I read your post. What could be worse than writing a synopsis--especially when you have to cut pages? I like the idea of having 3 different ones, though.