This week I had to edit a 10 page synopsis down to a 5 page or less synopsis.   I am not one who has too little story to tell.  I usually have more than I need–just in case I run short.   This story was no exception.   I could not wrap my brain around how to cut it down and still make sense.  But, of course, I gave it my best shot.

My agent wrote back after reading the revised version and suggested I could do better.  Concentrate on pace and tension and feelings, more than description, she advised.

Having already thought this first edit was a great, I didn’t know what needed changed.   I went first to the synopsis I’d written for the second book in this trilogy as I knew it was about 5 pages.    I was surprised to discover, I nailed that synopsis.   Hmmm.   What was different about this one than the other?   Not just length.   This one focused on the feelings, action and pacing.

I was getting lost in the original synopsis and needed fresh perspective.   I decided to go back to something I rely on for plotting internal/external conflicts and story goals.  Those are what should be in the synopsis.   Once I filled out the sheet, the new, tighter, faster, more emotionally satisfying synopsis all but wrote itself.

If you want to try it, I’m going to post it here.  It’s pretty self explanatory.

                          SAMPLE — CONFLICT PLOT PLAN*












* From a talk by Betty Ann Patterson AKA Vickie York)

** For Romantic/Suspense

In two or three sentences, write down your hero’s and heroine’s goals in opposition.  The more opposing they are, the stronger your story conflict will be.   You don’t have to get this right the first try or even your second or third.  Just keep at it until the opposing goals jumps off the page.   Then do the same with the internal and external conflicts.  Once you have the reasons why the strongest possible conflicts and goals, you should find the start your synopsis.  This really works for me.  My hope is that it will also work for you.

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6 Responses to WRITERS’ AID

  1. Laurie Ryan says:

    I use something similar, based on a class I took from Michael Hauge. A simple worksheet like this really helps you nail down what’s important, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’ve bogged down in the novel I’m writing now (Washed Up on Barnacle Beach) but think what I’ve needed all along is this worksheet. Thanks so much!

  3. D.S Taylor says:

    this is really cool, i must try using it to try and improve my crappy synopsis!

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