Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Power of Synopsis

I've recently been working on a synopsis for my main writing project, despite the fact that I've only half-finished the first draft! I have to say that it has focussed my thinking remarkably. I've managed to clear up some tricky areas and iron out some inconsistencies in the plot, just by writing a two or three page summary.

Of course, the synopsis cannot yet be set in stone, as the novel is likely to change and evolve as I complete it. The synopsis must therefore evolve alongside it, and definitely not be sent out to any publisher until much later. I'm therefore treating it as a "master storyboard". This is working very well and I can highly recommend it.

I found it very difficult to write a synopsis, for reasons I don't really understand. After all, it should just be a matter of summarising the story. Shouldn't it?
I just wish I'd started working on it alongside the novel right from the start.

What are your experiences with writing synopses? Good or bad? Useful or just distracting? Any tips on how to write a good one would also be appreciated.

For those of you on the Cutting It Fine blog, you can read my first synopsis attempt here.


SpiralSkies said...

Crumbs, don't even mention synopses! I'm having enough trouble just trying to condense the chapters of my novel onto A3 cards. I am sooooo going to use a bit of planning next time!

The Cutting it Fine blog sounds intriguing and immensely useful.

KeVin K. said...

I don't need a synopsis for short stories, but at some point early on I must have one for a novel. Though my synopses tend to look more like storyboards: graph paper with boxes of text and connecting arrows. Since a novel usually has several subplots, I usually have a synopsis of each one on a separate page for quick reference. There are, I'm told, computer programs for writers that do all this for you, but I much prefer covering several tables at the coffee shop with random stacks of papers, reference materials and stuff I don't recognize that somehow found its way into my computer bag.

Annieye said...

I didn't find it too bad, Kev. I think it might be my 'other life' as a boring local government officer.

I have a whole week off next week. Lots of blogging time and I hope to catch up with everyone. I've been really busy at both home and at work (why did I have two children with only six days between their birthdays?) and have tended to concentrate on getting Going Back ready to go to Wales and keeping to my target of one short story per week.

KeVin K. said...

"and keeping to my target of one short story per week."

I really need to get back to that. It's a wonderful discipline and it forces you to be professional while developing your craftsmanship. Started making some sales and somehow let the discipline fall by the wayside. I'm at about one short story a month now. Gotta pick the pace up if I'm ever going to outrun this day job.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hello and a belated welcome to the Novel Racers! I too find synopsis writing (a) very hard and (b) very useful. There is some good advice available online; if you put 'write synopsis' into Google (without the quotation marks) it will throw up a load of potentially useful sites. Good luck!