Wednesday, January 25

Kristina's 5-Step Synopsis Plan

So, since we're talking about synopsi and the general loathsome dreaded task they are to write, I thought I'd pass along my Simple Synopsis Technique - which is actually pieces of many other writers' synopsis plans. I glommed what worked for me and made my own. Disclaimer: just because it works for me doesn't mean it'll work for you. Here goes:

Step One: Write one sentence describing each of the following: hero, heroine, beginning hook, major turning points and resolution. You should have (depending on length) 7 sentences, give or take. I write shorter so I usually have 3 turning points; obviously longer books will have more.

Step Two: Expand both the Hero and Heroine's sentence to become a GMC statement; 3-4 sentences (max) is good.

Step Two: Expand the beginning, turning points and resolution sentences to be NO MORE THAN a 3-4 sentence paragraph. No cheating: don't use And But Or to conjugate two sentences. This needs to be succinct.

Step Three: Add in the fun - what leads the characters from Beginning to Turning Point 1 to Turning Point 2 to the Black Moment to the Resolution? Again - be succinct. Some of these will be one sentence, some will be 2. Very few should be more than 3 sentences long.

Step Four: Don't forget the emotion. You've done such a good job of getting the Who What and When and possibly How down on the page. This is where you add in the Why - why does the Heroine act like ___, why does the Hero respond like ___; what emotional entanglement leads them to ___. Once again, be succinct. You're dealing with emotions at this point, but remember it's a synopsis not the actual book.

Step Five: Read it. At least twice, looking for moments or reactions or happenings that you forgot to include. If something big - not just the heroine getting a manicure, I mean a moment that changes things for the hero or heroine - happens and you've not mentioned, this is the time to add it in.

You're through. That's my simple synopsis technique; usually I can keep this to 2 pages. When I remember it's a synopsis and not the actual book. :)

Do you have a secret formula?


  1. I always leave out the emotion. I tend to forget about it during the synopsis writing. LOL. Good post!

  2. Great post, Kristi! And good advice. I think we all hate 'the dreaded synopsis', but I actually found a method that works for me so they aren't so bad anymore :)

  3. I'm getting ready to write one for AH and I'm going to try this. Thanks, Kristi!

  4. Nice tips! I'm going to give it a try because I'm still trying to find that perfect way for me to write a clear synopsis without spending weeks on it. LOL

  5. I don't hate writing a synopsis, but it not my idea of a good time either. They thought of writing a query letter will have me running, screaming from the room!

  6. I'm not there yet, but I have played around with one, and let me tell you, it wasn't good.
    Your tips should be helpful,

  7. HATE the synopsis.

    Great tips, one to keep!

    Thanks so much!

  8. I *always* forget the emotion on the first pass, Sharon. Sometimes even in the book itself!

    Jennifer - glad you found a system that works for you. That is definitely the key!

    Jerri & Christine, good luck and hope this works for you!!

    Both are definitely scary, Shawn...necessary evils, I call 'em.

    Good luck with you synopsis, Neecy!

    D'Ann, we are agreed. Blech!!

  9. Great post and great advice. And to answer your quesiton....NOPE. Well, maybe. I guess the first 2 paragraphs are usually the GMCs (meet the H/h) paragraphs. Then I go from chapter to chapter and write a 1 or 2 sentence paragraph containing the important action of that chapter. If it was just a transition chapter, I don't mention it. I make sure I catch the turning points, climax, resolution and emotion. I've gotten my last couple down to below a 1000 words this way.

  10. Great system, Kristi!

    And Sara, 1K???? That kind of rocks.

  11. Great system! I especially like #2 (don't use AND, BUT, OR). We see lots of authors using them in tag lines and blurbs, trying so hard to get ALL the info in there... and it comes off so gaspy and out-of-breath.

    This is actually a fantastic formula, though, rather than trying to piece together the entire timeline of the story. It'll get all the important juicy parts, rather than a dry skeleton. Go you!

  12. Sara, awesome! So glad you've found a system that works for you.

    Liz, Margie and Piper, thanks for stopping in. And, Piper, great advice as always!

  13. Kristina, I'm so going to try this out. Thanks,