Monday, April 14, 2008

The Six-Paragraph Synopsis

For the past week, I've had my head down in queries and synopses. Recently, I read on an agent's weblog that you should really try to nail your synopsis in six paragraphs. Since my current synopsis was six double-spaced pages, I decided to give it a try.

While at work (bad Tia), I took out my notebook and numbered a page from one to six. I gave myself three lines for each numbered point. (That's all the notebook had room for.) Then I wrote brief phrases that would describe what goes in each paragraph. Larges chunks of my novel didn't make the cut, such as the entire failed romance storyline.

I was surprised at how easy it was. The first numbered point described Abriel; the last point described the final conflict and the outcome, and the four points in the middle described how she got from point 1 to point 6. It took about five minutes.

On Saturday, I sat down and took my six bullet points and wrote a six paragraph synopsis. I only deviated from my outline with one paragraph. It took less than an hour. The final product doesn't even take a full page. Before, I used to have to fight to get a one-page synopsis. Now I have three or four blank lines at the bottom.

* * *
For this week, I think my goals will be:
  • Finish the first draft of "Fairest", my Snow White story. It's turning out to be surprisingly action-packed. Right now, I have my characters in such a bad situation that I have no idea how they are going to get out of it. In my experience, that's a good thing as a writer. If I don't know how they're going to get out of it, then a reader certainly won't either.
  • For Starcaster, I am stymied. I had problems with the opening and with a major character, who may get reduced to a bit part. As therapy, I've been working on a scene that is in Tory's background. It may never make it into the novel. However, it's tense and suspense-filled, and I think it would make a great opening. So I'm going to cogitate on that one.


  1. Work, work, work...some characters never give us a day off.

    You might want to pop over to Or, pop over to and do a blog search on Jacqueline Lichtenberg. She has several columns on the problems your having with Starcaster. Love the title, by the way.

  2. Thanks, Kimber! I'll check out those links!

  3. My goal is to befriend my latest foster mom so that she'll allow me to touch her and her 14 day old kitties!
    Not much book writing going on in my house!

    It's killing me having these adorable kittens around and not being able to touch them!

  4. Wow! I have to try that!!! Very, very cool. Thanks. :)

  5. Let me know how it goes, Anissa!


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