Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What My Synopsis Taught Me

Confession: I am a pantser.

Outlines? Not for me.

So when it was time to crank out that dreaded synopsis for my WIP, I figured hell was coming to town. It did, but not the way I expected.

You see, I followed a game plan:
1) Write about major characters.
2) Write major plot points.
3) Write ending.
4) Add "voice".

Steps 1 and 2 went well. But as I got closer to the end, my synopsis showed me something I hadn't seen before.

My ending sucked.

By describing what happens in my story, I learned it was pretty flawed. Characterization was okay, but plotting downright sucked toward the final pages. So how did I fix it? I took out the epilogue, which contained a cliffhanger scene. I plan on using this scene in the sequel (if there's ever one...). I went back and rewrote other scenes in order to create a little doubt regarding the twist reveal, but not in a way that leaves the story ending in a WTF moment.

Now my synopsis looks like it's about one book, not one and a half. It does suggest a sequel, but it also shows that this story can work on its own.

There you have it, fellow pantsers: synopses can change lives.

I mean, stories...

What has your synopsis taught you?


  1. My synopsis reminds me - repeatedly - how much I dislike doing them!

  2. I havent done a synopsis yet..... and I'm dreading writing one with my entire being!!!

  3. My book will hopefully score a sequel one day too, but it's to an author's advantage if that first book can stand alone.

    A month or so ago I finally buckled down and wrote a synopsis (which really was not as supremely difficult as I thought it would be!), and it taught me that my book is set up strangely, almost like a TV series. All I can say is that I hope it works because it seems fine to me. Denial? Maybe.

  4. Good for you, Amparo! Endings always need tweaking, in my experience. Mine probably still does. Maybe I should write another synopsis and use your brilliant method.

    lol @Dawn! That's what synopses teach me, too. I just got a query rejection from an agent who requires them and can't blame her. My synopsis really sucked...just told the plot with hardly any voice. But I kinda think it's unfair to make novelists write picture books, don't you? That's essentially what this is, right?

  5. Well done you with your synopsis and glad it helped out with your narrative!! yay!!!

    good luck with it! And a chance of a sequel is always brilliant!!

    Synopsis writing for me is pretty hard. It's taken me all these years to even get one that I'm happy with - years!!! Grrrr! :-) Then again I'm a very slow learner! LOL!

    Take care

  6. Great to hear that you tackled your synopsis and made your book stronger as a stand-alone.

    As for me, I've tried writing a synopsis before and have come up empty handed by just running onto my next novel.

    I'm definitely thinking about running through the synopsis again this summer and hopefully I will come up with a nice piece of writing instead of disregarding it, like last time.

    Write on, Amparo!

  7. All the best and don't give up you're on the right track :)