The Dreaded Synopsis

Friday, 6 January 2012

Last night I wrote a synopsis. The first of two I need to write. See, I have two WIPs in the works right now. Well, that’s a lie. I actually have eight WIPs (damn ADHD), but in an effort to actually finish them, I have decided to focus on only two. One is targeting Harlequin American Romance and the other, Harlequin Intrigue. I blogged about these the other day and I’ve even put the blurbs on my Romance page for the world to see (shudder). Have a look if you like.
As someone who quickly loses interest in a story once she’s played with it for a bit, I have come up with a plan to stay interested in my tales until the day I can finally type ‘The End’. After brainstorming about the story, I write a logline, then a blurb, a breakdown of the chapters (like an outline but more detailed), and finally a synopsis. I’m hoping this will keep the story fresh and new in my mind and prevent my losing interest part-way through (chapter four, in my experience). Now, when I start to lose sight of the story, I can have a read through the synopsis or outline and get back on track (I hope).
I know a lot of authors who start each story with a synopsis, kind of like a road map for the journey, but for some reason, I always saw the synopsis as something to write after the book was finished. Maybe there’s a bit of ‘pantser’ in me after all.
I have been trying to start this particular synopsis for a week now and just couldn’t bring myself to type the first line. The whole concept seemed so foreign to me. I know all about showing, not telling and plot twists which keep your readers guessing. Details to set the mood and dialogue which is smart and lifelike.  And here I was trying to write something which could contain none of that. I even had to (gasp) give away the ending! It seemed like such a bland endeavor.
And I did find it bland, but finally last night I started typing and I refused to go to sleep (even though I was exhausted) until it was finished. I haven’t read it yet. God knows, it could be all gibberish. But I hope it isn’t; I hope it’s a good start. I’m not expecting a masterpiece, just a rough draft with potential. I just want to be on the right track.
And that, is the problem. I’ve read a million how-to’s. There’s even a thread over at the (unbelievably helpful) Absolute Write Water Cooler where quite a few published authors have posted their selling synopses for us hopefuls to have a look at. But what I really need is someone to read mine and say ‘yep, that’s about it’ or ‘nope, you’re way off base’.  
So I think I’ll have a read of it tonight and see if there is anything which is blatantly off-key, polish it up a bit, and see if I can bribe one of the Harlequin community into having a look at it. Pray for me, because I really don’t want to start this whole damn thing over again.


  1. Love this post--so true! I've been at this writing business for over 11 years and somehow writing synopses (plural) doesn't get any easier. Worse even is writing an outline for an agent. What matters most is your query (aggghhhh!) and those first five pages. Try keeping that in mind when you write that synopsis. :) Best of luck!

  2. Thanks. I re-read what I wrote last night and instantly found a lot of mistakes.It was late, though, so I'm going to have another run at it today. But more than anything, I'm going to get started on this story! I am tired of the prep work. I really need to write!


Latest Instagrams

© Christy Kate McKenzie. Design by Fearne.