By Leeann Betts
A good writing synopsis will take you scene by scene, chapter by chapter, act by act through the story. It will prompt your dialogue, talk about the motivations, and highlight the conflicts that should exist between your characters.
Here’s how to write a good synopsis that will speed your writing to the successful completion of a first draft:
1. Start with the tagline of the book. One or two sentences that encapsulate what the book will be about. For Missing Deposits, mine is: When a rancher discovers copper on his property, he learns that mining can be dangerous business. Can Mike and Carly figure out who the killer is, or will they end up buried in an unmarked grave in western Colorado?
2. Come up with the short blurb. This could be three to five sentences that give a little more information. Think of it as “back cover copy”—what would entice you to buy and read this book? Again, using my most recent release as an example: Carly looks forward to a vacation when Mike is hired to assist a rancher family in western Colorado catalogue their various mineral rights following the discovery of a large copper field on their property. However, Carly soon learns that the real wealth—and the real danger—aren’t below ground. Someone is out to keep a secret bigger and more profitable than copper. And they’re willing to kill for it.
3. Start at the beginning of the story. Refer to your tagline and your blurb to keep you on track. This isn’t intended to stifle your creativity, but rather to deliver on the promise you made to your reader through your book description/back cover copy. Drop the reader into the action right away. Then transcribe the movie playing in your head. I format the synopsis so that each scene is a single paragraph. Sometimes I include dialogue. And if there’s something I need to research, I don’t stop and do it then. I put in @@ so I can search the document later and pop those little tidbits in.
4. End every scene and every chapter with a problem, a question, or a revelation. This keeps the reader reading.
5. Add notes as you write the book and make changes as your characters lead you.
6. When you’re done, add in the timeline of when the scene is set in the story as well as in time. I use a free online printable calendar to keep the days straight in my head and in my story.
For Missing Deposits, my synopsis came in at just about 11,000 words. I hear what you’re thinking, and I see the eye rolls. “Why would you waste all that time doing a synopsis when you could be writing the book?” I asked that same question the first few times I wrote a synopsis. And honestly, this one was way more detailed than I usually do. But it’s been a treasure. Sometimes, I just rehash the synopsis directly in the book. And, with this level of detail, I reduce the risk of leaving a gaping hole in the plot lines.
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Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. In the Money is the tenth title in her cozy mystery series, and together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter. Blog: www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6 Books: Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8