Sunday, February 22, 2009

Synopsis (part 3)

I've covered basic goals of writing a synopsis and also offered some guidance on how to create a framework to begin drilling down that story into a concentrated form.

Writing is lonely business, and I can always use a little help from my friends. Here is a great synopsis starter from talented Trudi Trueit author of the recently released SECRETS OF A LAB RAT -- NO GIRLS ALLOWED (DOGS OK): One thing I do to jumpstart my synopsis neurons is to fill in the blanks of this sentence: This book is about a (blank) who (blanks) (i.e. what does the character want most?). That gets me right to the nuts and bolts of what I want to say, and I usually can come up with something short and catchy.

I'm going to add to Trudi's idea of "catchy". I think what you want to catch is the essence of the voice of the book in that pithy description. I actually write the synopsis from the POV of my character. I don't generally use this version but I do find providential turns of phrase when performing this exercise. This is just like adding a dash of salt to the soup. It's all about the details,folks.

So, even more to come.

This week's doodle is called, "Pocket of Stars."

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

And my playlist hit this week, back to 1972, from my hometown, Houston, TX, Johnny Nash and "I Can See Clearly Now".

I think the act of condensing months or years of work down to a couple hours of entertainment is pretty wild and extremely rewarding. Richard King

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Synopsis (part 2)

I'm continuing my series about synopsis writing. I build an arsenal of synopses for each project. I write the "one line sound byte" version. I write the one paragraph "single piece of fine chocolate" version. I write the one page "slice of cake" version. I write the three page "full course version". And I write the "I'm not counting calories" ten page version.

I usually start with at big version. I write a short one to five line description of each chapter. Then I stick them all together. This has added benefits because you might notice that there is something fishy or messed up about your plot. So yay! Bonus. My next job is to half that document. I stick to the main plot points and leave out most of the sub-plots unless it's big and important. Then I look at each sentence and ask, "Can I say this with fewer words?" I almost always can.

Here's is an example:

The Iblis is a raving madness that destroys all order and ultimately brings death.
The Iblis, a raving madness, destroys order and brings death. (See, shorter!)

Today's doodle is "Fish soon to be out of water".

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

And this week's playlist is an oldie and goodie and also my theme song. 'Seize the Day' by Carolyn Arrends. Please check her out.

My quote of the week:

You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. Pooh. (aka A.A. Milne)

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I've had several people ask me how to write a synopsis, and I've decided to post little bits about my process. I used to struggle with this bit of writing until an epiphany day at the library. (I sometimes take a day at my local library and put the writing mind into the light-speed setting from open until close.)

I tried and tried to write a good synopsis for my current book, but my efforts felt flat and my words were disconnected from the heart of what I was trying to say in the book. I was sitting on the floor because the library was extra busy and all my favorite chairs were taken. I'd struggled for hours to write the synopsis of one of my books. Yes, I wiped away more than one frustrated tear. What, 10 lines? How hard could it be?

Can you say, "Mission Impossible?"

That's when I looked up and saw a poster with the synopsis of every Newbery book since the beginning of time. I read each one, slowly. I thought about what elements that seemed to lurk in every synopsis.

Here's my first lesson: the nuts and bolts of synopsis writing. Each one I read included the setting, the name of the main character and indicated the age of the character, and the most basic shape of the plot. There were very few adjectives or adverbs; each synopsis was driven by nouns and verbs. Click on this link and then and read each short synopsis. Your first job is to read a bunch of these and then write your own short synopsis, something very short, no more than 6 to 7 lines. Let me know how it goes. More to come next week...

Here is this week's doodle, "Full of Eyes."

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

I've been down this week (a number of painful rejections, folks) and am turning to my favorite RX for the blues. My playlist hit for the week is Alison Krauss and Robert Plant singing "Killing the Blues." This is a terrible recording but don't despair, go to their website and listen to their album. It's a revelation.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. Anne Frank