Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rachel Brimble: Synopsis Writing – Ahhhh!!!!

Today I'm turning the blog over to Rachel Brimble. She offers some hints and tips on writing the Dreaded Synopsis, as well as information about her newest release, Paying the Piper.

I visited a blog recently and talked about my mantra of allowing yourself to write a ‘crappy’ first draft and how much this changed my writing output overnight. I really think writers put more pressure on themselves than any editor, agent, reviewer or reader ever could so when I discovered how much more I get written when I stop obsessively editing, it was SO liberating!

But are we ever happy with our writing? Do we ever fully believe we haven’t written the best story we possibly can? Do we fully embrace the potential to receive five star reviews for all those thousands of little words that we spent weaving into a novella or full-blown novel?

Nooo, of course not!! That would make sense. It’s far better just to beat ourselves up and constantly rant and rave that we can’t write, we’re not good enough or how would anyone want to spend a weekend of their time, sitting on a couch with a cold glass of wine and one our books.

Yes, this is said with my tongue in my cheek…but it isn’t entirely untrue. Well, not for me anyway.

But I digress…the topic of my blog today is synopsis writing and how I write mine. As a result of that author visit I mentioned at the start of this post, apparently the stage in the writing process when I write mine is rare, as opposed to my method so I thought I’d share both.

When do I write a synopsis?

BEFORE the first word of the story is written, of course. Don’t you? No? Okay, well, I never claimed to be normal or I wouldn’t write in the first place, right? ;)

How do I write a synopsis?

The general rule of thumb is as follows:

First paragraph – I start with my blurb, this is my HOOK. If you can get this job done now, it will help you massively once you’ve typed ‘The end”. Try to summarise you book in a single paragraph, keeping the mood and tone of the story as your focus.

Introduce your hero and heroine – and most importantly their ‘problem’ or goal. In other words, here is where you establish, Goal, Motivation & Conflict (never easy!)

Next, you establish the high points of your story – the pivotal moments. The best tip I was ever given when writing this stage is every high point should include an ACTION, REACTION and a DECISION.

Finally, the resolution – how is everything tied up into a nice neat package leaving the reader happy and satisfied.

Easy, right? Well, I never said that did I? ;) But why writing this BEFORE I start the book works for me is because I have a ‘skeleton story’ established that I can refer back to if I get lost, but also gives me the freedom to change and go with the flow as much as I want. If I change things along the way, or the characters take the story off in a different direction, that’s okay.

I just remember to update the synopsis as I work so when my story is finished, so is my synopsis (more or less!). Good, huh?

Rachel’s latest release is Paying The Piper, available from Lyrical Press on September 19th.


Nightclub manager Grace Butler is on a mission to buy the pub where her mother's ashes are scattered but the owner wants to sell to anyone but her. And that owner happens to be her father...who has a secret she will do anything to discover.

Social worker and all around good guy Jimmy Betts needs funds to buy a house for three special kids before their care home closes. Time is running out and he's desperate for cash. He agrees to to a one-time 'job' for bad-man Karl Butler. But in a sudden turn of events, Jimmy finds himself employed by Karl's beautiful, funny and incredibly sexy daughter, Grace. Their lives couldn't be more different, yet one thread binds them: they're both trying to escape the bonds of their fathers. Maybe the only way they'll be free is by being together, instead of alone.

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Having always believed there’s someone for everyone, Rachel started writing her own tales of love once her children were at school. Since then, she’s had several books published with The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press and Lyrical Press. She has recently acquired a US agent with her second Victorian historical. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, Rachel cannot imagine her life without romance or writing!

When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…

Check out Rachel's work, and if you'd like to guest post here, drop me a line.


steph beck said...

Sounds basic enough, Rachel. My synopsis process is a lot longer because I go back through the MS and make synopsis prep part of my editing steps. I grab a notebook and go chapter by chapter--keeping track of how many pages per chapter (to avoid too long/too short) and choose the top 3 events of the chapter and write it down. I then go through at the end of the notes and decide which are the most important events and then start the synopsis. Since I work on a lot of projects at once, it's a good reminder and starting place for a solid synopsis.
Thanks for sharing!
Stephanie Beck

Margie Church said...

Hi Rachel! I'm a plotter so I prepare a story arc before I really get started and it's always interesting to see how things pan out. When I get ready for submissions I find it dicey to sort out what must be stated and what can pass. I've lost contracts over leaving stuff out. This business is so subjective. I use this rule: The Hook, The Book, The Cook (author). Practicing....

Calisa Rhose said...

I don't know that I actually have a method to my madness. It would be nice to say I did. I get an idea and usually that moment, or soon after, I start writing. I usually end up rewriting the first chapter before the third is finished, as I learn my characters, get into the flow of a new story. Then I just let the characters drive and I sit back and enjoy the ride. Once it's all finished I go through and take the high points and create my synopsis.

However- there has been one time I wrote the synopsis before chapter one. And there's been a couple of times when I wrote a blurb, laid out some scene ideas, to help me stay on track on a particular theme. But no real method.

Thanks for sharing Rachel.

Rachel Brimble said...

It's so interesting how differently we all work - your method sounds fool proof, Steph! I've kept a copy and added it to my ever growing synopsis writing file, lol!

I don't think it get any easier...

Great to see you Margie!

Calisa - you are SO in the running for my backlist, lol!

R x

Debra St. John said...

I have a really great synopsis method that works like a charm every time...unfortunately, I can never write it until I'm done with a book.

If I ever have to sell on a proposal instead of a full, I'm in BIG trouble!

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Debra, I'm with you. I never write a synopsis until I'm ready to submit the ms. The story is always inside my head, but not enough to know the final outcome until I write, "The End."