Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Winging it... Part Two.

Hey all.

Thanks for all your comments yesterday. And glad to see the synopsis for BBBB was helpful. I had planned to post the revision email I got today, but I haven't heard back from my ed (probably extremely busy reading submissions so we can't blame her) and I don't want to post her words without getting her permission.

But, I can say that a lot of the changes the ed asked for weren't in the synopsis (perhaps a clue right there that they had no business being in the book!!).

And that the main changes were all to do with tightening the story up, tailoring it to Modern Heat and keeping the focus on Monroe and Jesse's relationship.


What to Put and Not to Put in Your Synopsis:

What I find more interesting though when reading the synopsis for BBBB is all the scenes that I didn't describe in it. The scene where Monroe tells Jesse about his past (his mother's abuse and the fact that he was raped as a teenager in jail). The scene where she sees his art for the first time and tells him he has to make a career out of it. The scene where they have a picnic on the beach and Monroe discovers she has always dreamed about having what her sister Ali has (and he becomes starkly aware that he can never give that to her).

Why didn't I describe them? Simple, in a 2-page (or even 1-page) synopsis there isn't space. But what I did do was reference the conflict and/or character development that took place in those scenes.

What you have to do when deciding what to describe and what not to describe in your synopsis is look at every single scene in your story (or if you haven't written the story yet, just visualise the basic plot development during the course of your story) and then look at how your hero and heroine and their relationship has developed in each scene (or plot point) and/or how their conflict is changing (ie: being confronted or resolved) and then summarise those changes/devlopments in the narrative of your synopsis.

Making Your Synopsis Work for You:

The synopsis (quite apart from giving an ed the low-down on your story) can also be a brilliant tool for you when it comes to structuring and pacing your story.

One thing to look out for when writing your synopsis is scenes where nothing much happens. They could be scenes which concentrate on secondary characters too much (like my icky birth scene!!), or don't tell us anything significant about the H & H or their relationship, or they may be scenes that go over old ground and repeat information you've already given the reader in another scene. If you find those scenes, take a good, long look at them and decide if they're really necessary. And be ruthless. Because if they're not doing anything they could seriously slow the pace (however sparky and sexy the dialogue or beautifully written they are).

Another way to make your synopsis work for you is to make sure that you've got all the scenes you need to show rather than tell the story of your conflict. By working out who your hero and heroine are, what their conflict is and how it is going to be resolved you are clarifying the structure of your book.

Think of the synopsis as a road map, so that when you come to write the book, you know exactly what every single scene needs to achieve. Or as a revision tool if you've already written the book, to tell you which scenes are not working or which scenes you have to add.

One thing I always look out for now in my writing is scenes where I've got a third party keeping the conflict moving in the right direction (say a villainous step-sister who reveals to the heroine that the hero's illegitimate) or a random external conflict that keeps the plot moving (like a marriage of convenience for no good reason other than that I had a great scene with an Elvis impersonator in mind).

So my final bit of advice is, when writing a synopsis, keep an eye out for any random Elvis Impersonators.

15 comments:

Kimberly Lang said...

You're so smart, Heidi...

Rachael Johns said...

This is gold... thanks so much :)

Heidi said...

Yes, very smart, thanks Kim and Rachael...

Now if I could just apply this gold to my current ms how much smarter would I be..?

Anne MacFarlane said...

Thanks Heidi,

Great advice.

Jackie Ashenden said...

Fantastic Heidi. I too need to look out for that third party moving the conflict along. It's so easy to do and has been my downfall in the past.

Anyway, this is a great synopsis description. If only I could change the one I just sent off! :-)

amy said...

Thanks again! Your time is very much appreciated. Very helpful.

Amy

mulberry said...

LOL on the Elvis impersonator! Not even just one teensy tiny Elivis impersonator?

I'm finding the synopsis is a huge help with editing my current story. Like you say, writing the story down in a couple of pages, featuring just the character development and turning points, really pointed out which scenes didn't move the story forward so had to go.

Aideen said...

Oh, I think it's Rachel deserves the credit for discovering the 'ick' scene, LOL.

Very helpful, very straightforward. How about you just write my synopsis for me and I promise not to tell anyone? The girls here won't mind, the romance writing community is all about sharing afterall....

Aideen.

Lacey Devlin said...

*waves arms and jumps up and down* I'm after Aideen!

Thanks Heidi you're a gem and a true help! :)

Lorraine said...

Thanks Heidi, I'll keep my eyes out for Elvis impersonators :-)
Seriously though, really helpful post.

Heidi said...

Cheers folks. Glad the advice struck a chord.

And yeah, Aideen and Lacey, like I'm going to do your synopsis when I don't even want to write my own!! In your dreams, ladies....

Anyway, best of luck to you all entering the contest. My very best advice would be don't sweat it too much over the synopsis - think of it as a tool to get the conflict sorted - because if that first chapter really hooks them they'll want to see more...

Joanne said...

Heidi - you're a gem, thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it :D

Caroline said...

Hi Heidi. I'm a bit late in posting a response - I've just got back from hols - but thank you so much for all the information on the I heart presents about the writing competition website and your very helpful information on all this "synopsis". Wow was it good! Like an earlier blogger said I want to read that book! I'll be scouring Amazon for it! As a winner of one of your other books recently it's sure to be a winner! Take care. Caroline x

Heidi said...

Cheers Caroline,

You're very welcome to the advice. Good luck trying to find a copy of BBBB. It's probably easier to get the US version Bedded by a Playboy. But I take no responsibility for that title (or the guy on the cover who seems to have very well-developed man boobs!!).

Best of luck with your comp entry.

Check back here soon, as I'm planning to post some info on some of the tricks.. Sorry, did I say tricks? Of course I meant methods I use to write an engaging first chapter.

Kerrin said...

Thank you Heidi, this is the part i dread and have no idea what to put in and leave out... thanks heaps

from NZ