The Synopsis - Part 1 (What the FRELL is This?!)
I will post my synopsis workshop here in two parts. If you need help with any of these points, please let me know in the comments or you can email me. smblooding at yahoo dot com.
First off, there needs to be a vocabulary lesson because not everyone has been through seven years of workshops with me.
Synopsis(ses): synopses is the plural form of synopsis. Synopsis is a shortened version of your book.
Plot Point (PP): A plot point, later referred to as PP, is a major climatic event in the structural plot line.
Structural Plot (SP): The structural plot, later referred to as the SP, is the story line that pushes the characters into action. It's the murder that needs to be solved, or the prophecy that needs fulfilled.
Character Plot (CP): The character plot, later referred to as the CP, is the story line that makes the character grow. It's the female mc and the male mc getting together, or the mc overcoming all odds to fulfill the prophecy, or the mc facing her fears in order to solve the murders.
Transitional Actions (TA): The transitional actions is the action or the road that takes the characters from PP 1 to PP 2. Example: PP1: Beth is on a ship for the Americas to marry a man she's never met. PP2: She stranded on an island with Dread Pirate Bill. What's the transitional action that got Beth from a boat in relative safety to being stranded on an island with a pirate? TA1: The storm that crashed Beth's ship and Bill's ship together, smashed them on the rocks, and left her and him stranded along with Bill's crew, which is now holding Beth's crew hostage.
I think that's all of the vocabulary lessons we need.
What makes most synopses fail? Well, a number of things.
- Too many plot points.
- It's confusing. We don't know how or why we're going from one PP to the next.
- It's jarring to read.
- It's boring.
- There are too many characters.
What makes a good synopsis successful?
- It has a handful of great characters that we get to know in the short synopsis.
- It has a great plot that's easy to understand without being bogged down by subplots I don't understand.
- It has a great character plot that's easy to understand and engaging.
- It has a great voice.
So, now we know what makes a bad synopsis and what makes a good synopsis. Here are a few tricks that we'll discuss more in depth tomorrow and Thursday.
- Stop CRAMMING all the CRAP you possibly CAN into your 1,000 word synopsis.
- Stop throwing ALL of your characters into your 1,000 word synopsis.
- Stop throwing ALL the subplots in there with one sentence of description and just ASSUME that I'll get it.
- Stop with the play-by-play analysis. This isn't an outline. This is a STORY!
- Repeat #1 over and over until you get it through your head. STOP CRAMMING CRAP INTO 1,000 words! There's just not enough space.
We'll continue on tomorrow.