Writing Your Synopsis

I admit it, I’m a freak.

I kind of like writing synopses.

I hate writing blurbs, but synopses don’t bother me. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s the big picture storyteller in me. Writing the story itself is nothing but detail after detail. It’s storytelling on a microscopic scale. But a synopsis is big, broad strokes! I love those.

I run a monthly writer’s group at my local library for all kinds of writers – fiction and non-fiction, plus the occasional poet or screenwriter – and they’re mostly beginners. I may not know a lot, but I can at least say I’ve been around this game for a good, long time. And if I don’t know the answer, I know someone who does. Not to mention, my Google-fu is super strong. I can research like nobody’s business.

This month, the topic was Writing a Synopsis. I decided to start there because we’re doing Query Letters next month.

First, what is this creature?

It’s a selling tool. Approach it that way. This is you taking off your word-spattered creative artist smock and putting on your most tastefully sexy business suit. Because you’re done being all “Wheeee!” It’s down to getting paid now.

You’ve written your genius query letter to your dream agent/editor, and they’ve responded with, “Sure! Send the first three chapters, plus a synopsis!”

After you’ve sacrificed the appropriate snow white goat to thank the writing gods, you go to your computer and immediately freak out. Because how are you going to fully wow the agent/editor with your brilliantly crafted tome in just … how many pages? They tend to come in two lengths. Either cram it all onto one page (eek!) or deliver a three to five page synopsis.

How do you cram 90K of awesome into 500 words?

You tell the story.

How many times have you heard everyone else say, “Show, don’t tell!”

Forget it. When it comes to the synopsis, tell, tell, tell.

Marissa Meyer, the author of the Luna Chronicles YA series, wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about writing synopses at http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/6-steps-for-writing-a-book-synopsis/ . I think it covers pretty much all the bases.

This is just an overview of her post, and I HIGHLY recommend clicking over and reading the entire thing.

Step 1: Skim through the manuscript, noting the important events of each chapter.

 Step 2. Embellish the beginning.

Step 3: String your short chapter summaries together, using standard synopsis formatting.*

Step 4: Read through, with a focus on plot.

Step 5. Read through, with a focus on character arc.

Step 6. Trim and edit to the appropriate length.

She uses the synopsis she wrote for CINDER as an example. I think you should read the book because it’s made of awesome, but even if you haven’t, her synopsis examples do a great job illustrating a few of the big moments – not only about the plot, but about Cinder’s character arc. But read the book anyway.

If you need a differing viewpoint, try boiling down your story to these steps from Andy Rayne. He’s not talking synopses in this post, but a synopsis is honestly just distilling your story down to its basic structure.

5 Essential Parts

http://andyrane.blogspot.com/2013/05/lets-tell-story.html

And if we’re going to talk about story structure, there’s no one better at it than Michael Hauge. If you follow his 6 Stage Plot Structure, then you can slim down your story into those Outer and Inner Journey stages.

Michael Hauge's Six Stages of Plot Structure, Updated for 2014

It’s pretty simple from there. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. Just tell your story, with a beginning, middle and end.

Good grief, I nearly forgot. Whatever you do, tell them how it ends! Do not tease the agent/editor with “If you want to know how it ends, you’ll have to request the full.”

Auto-bin. Do not screw with these people. Don’t be cute, be professional. Remember, you’re wearing your business suit, not a babydoll negligee.

Here’s a bit that is occasionally debated. Do you write your synopsis in your voice, or are you giving just the facts, ma’am? I’m personally a proponent of the synopsis with voice. They’re more fun to write, and, presumably, to read. As long as you’re getting all the information in there, why not make it interesting? My personal tip for writing your synopsis in your voice – as soon as you write The End, write the synopsis. You’ve already got the story in your head, so go ahead and scribble it all down. Yes, it’ll suck. That’s why the good Lord invented editing. But if you already have it down in your voice, it’ll be easier to maintain that style as you edit.

Of course, if you’re writing a police procedural, a la Dragnet, maybe “Just the facts, ma’am” is just the style you’re looking for!

Definitely have someone look over your synopsis before you send it to make sure you haven’t left anything out. Plot holes = bad. And you know your story so well that it’s hard to tell if you’ve left out something important. Someone who hasn’t read your work will wonder how Frodo hooked up with Strider if you forget to include a sentence about the Prancing Pony, yeah? (And if you didn’t get that reference, go sacrifice twelve hours of your life to Lord of the Rings, then get back to me.)

If I remember, I’ll write up my Query Letter presentation next month. But, umm, don’t hold your breath. 😉

 

*Notes on formatting your synopsis:

Single spaced, if 1 page. Double space anything longer.

1” margins all around.

Indent paragraphs, or add space between paragraphs, but not both.

3rd person, present tense. No matter what person or tense you wrote the story in, write the synopsis in 3rd present.

Capitalize the name of each major character the first time they’re introduced. (Only include major characters and important secondaries – don’t clutter up your synopsis with everyone who happens along the way.)

A MOST WANTED WOLF is finally out!

A spy and a werewolf walk into a firefight… Whose ass do they kick?

MostWantedWolfebook

Andrew Wyatt thinks all he has to do is bring a scientist back into the fold. He doesn’t count on a sizzling hot alien wolf shifter getting in his way, and getting under his skin.

The last thing Ule tärEinar needs is a tall blond spy interfering with her life. She may not trust Andrew, but that doesn’t stop the sparks from flying around them.

The trust is hard won, and they’ll need each other to survive an invasion that could draw their two allied cultures into a war neither can afford.

Kindle http://amzn.to/1GJIt7J

Kindle UK http://amzn.to/1MttyB8

Nook http://bit.ly/1P5nFJ9

Kobo http://bit.ly/1Xz9fnJ

iBooks http://apple.co/1kSlC00

As always, I’m very grateful for any reviews you’d like to post on Amazon, or on Goodreads!

Cover for A MOST WANTED WOLF!

The story that was in the VIKINGS UNTAMED box set is going out into the world on its own as of next Tue, Oct 27.

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover!

MostWantedWolfebook

A spy and a werewolf walk into a firefight…

Andrew Wyatt thinks all he has to do is bring a scientist back into the fold. He doesn’t count on a sizzling hot alien wolf shifter getting in his way, and getting under his skin.

The last thing Ule tärEinar needs is a tall blond spy interfering with her life. She may not trust Andrew, but that doesn’t stop the sparks from flying around them.

The trust is hard won, and they’ll need each other to survive an invasion that could draw their two allied cultures into a war neither can afford.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Oct 27, 2015!!

My first Con!

I’m fortunate to live near the location for ARCHON, a small yearly fan-con not too far from St Louis. Last year, I popped in for the first time, just to look around. A couple of friends from a local writer’s group are part of an author co-op that does a table there. They travel to lots of different cons and sell books. And now that I have actual books in print, I thought it was time for me to start participating.

2015-10-01 18.03.26

 

If you’re going to be part of an author co-op, you need to show up to things, right? So for the first time, I went to a fan-con. And I wore a costume. Kind of. I call it “Steampunk Lite.”

Archon Day 1The trouble with wearing black boots, leggings and skirt is that…it’s all black so you can’t tell what’s what. But trust me, it was cute. 🙂 That’s my first corset, too. Very fun to wear.

Anyway, I had an absolute blast, saw lots of great costumes, met lots of neat people and loads of other authors, and generally had fun. I’m totally going back next year, too.

 

Catching up: VIKINGS UNTAMED!

So I’m really far behind in posting what’s been going on.

If y’all remember A WOLF TO WATCH OVER ME (and honestly, how could you forget?), that was supposed to be a stand-alone short. I originally wrote it for the LOVE IS… anthology, then released it on its own.

Well, in July – actually, on the day it released – I got a message from Zoe York, asking if I wanted to be in a Vikings box set with her, Kate Pearce, Anne Marsh, Crystal Jordan, Dayna Hart and Holley Trent.

Umm, yes! Because the answer when someone asks you to write something is ALWAYS yes! But they wanted the story to be in a world that already had a story. WOLF already had some Viking overtones – they’re the Fenrir, there’s a definite Norse thread throughout the character development, and they’re a warrior culture. So I wrote a second Fenrir story.

A MOST WANTED VIKING is set in the same world, and the characters from the first story play a strong secondary role. A MOST WANTED VIKING is a much sexier novella, where the first story is short and sweet.

Not that you need a reason to read more of these terrific authors, but here’s a quick blurb for A MOST WANTED VIKING.

A spy and a werewolf walk into a firefight…

Andrew Wyatt thinks all he has to do is bring a scientist back into the fold. He doesn’t count on a sizzling hot alien wolf shifter getting in his way, and getting under his skin.

The last thing Ule tärEinar needs is a tall blond spy interfering with her life. She may not trust Andrew, but that doesn’t stop the sparks from flying around them.

Once they learn to trust, they’ll need each other to survive an invasion that could draw their two allied cultures into a war neither can afford.

AnneMarsh_VikingsUntamed_Bundle1400REVISED

 

Available at Amazon | BN | iBooks | Kobo

And I’ve just started writing the 3rd Fenrir story that will tentatively come out next spring!

I’m #1!!

This is so cool!!! I’ve never had a story top a list before, so I’m happy dancing in my chair right now!

Wanna see?

Screen Shot 08-24-15 at 07.24 PM

 

See? Right up top! It’s my super short little magical realism fairy tale, THE SLEEPER DREAMED!

Raven made me another fabulous cover for it, so I’m giving her major kudos for helping it get noticed. Isn’t it pretty?

Better yet? It’s FREE!!! (I know, I’m leaning on my exclamation mark button. Sue me. I’m excited.) Let me scribble down all the links for y’all.

Amazon: http://ow.ly/RhLjq
BN: http://ow.ly/RhKZN
Kobo: http://ow.ly/RhLEH
iBooks: http://ow.ly/RhLYp

Yay!!!

I think I’ll go dance down the hall chanting “I’m #1! I’m #1!”

RUNESPELL!

At long last – ok, it’s been, like, a month since my last release – my twist on a Norse fairy tale, RUNESPELL, is released!

Runespell6

In most fairy tales, the prince rescues the princess. It’s not often she gets to return the favor. 

Mai Westenra is pulled into a centuries-old quest for vengeance and magic, never realizing that she’ll find love in the midst of danger. 

Tyr Halvarsson has waited lifetimes to be rid of his curse. Resigned to his immortal half-life, one selfless act of humanity can redeem him. Or kill him. 

Together, Mai and Tyr must work against time and magic to perform the runespell that will save their lives and give them a chance at love that lasts.

Sounds like fun, huh? It is! And it’s a quick read, which is why it’s only 99c.

This one is Amazon only since I wanted to try out their schmancy Select and Unlimited program. For real, they had a button that said, “Do this!” And I wanted to push the button. So I did.

Now I’m rubbing my hands together like a mad scientist, waiting to see what happens.

But you can find the book here:

http://bit.ly/runespell1

http://bit.ly/runespelluk

Enjoy! And if you like it (or hate it, or have any kind of opinion whatsoever about it) I’d be ever grateful if you’d leave a review. 🙂

A WOLF TO WATCH OVER ME is live!!

I’m so pleased to be able to say that my short sci-fi romance, A WOLF TO WATCH OVER ME released today!!

Wolf to Watch Over Me Cover Final High ResolutionIn a future Earth, sometimes the Big Bad Wolf is the good guy. Hakon sidUlfr , a wolf shifter from another world, is better at killing than guarding, but quiet physicist Lauren Ivers will need all of his skills if they’re going to live through the day.

Lauren should be at home, reading and eating take-out. Instead, she’s on the run with the bodyguard she didn’t know she had in a desperate bid to get off the planet before she becomes a casualty in an intergalactic cold war.

Hakon’s deep instinct to protect the smart-mouthed scientist keeps her alive, but will she stay with him once his duty is done?

You can purchase your copy for $.99 at your favorite online retailer!

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

Apple

And as long as I have your attention, I would LOVE it if you could drop a review at Amazon or Goodreads! Thank you in advance!

New cover for A WOLF TO WATCH OVER ME!

A WOLF TO WATCH OVER ME originally appeared in the LOVE IS… anthology this spring, but now that the rights have reverted to me, I’m putting it back out as soon as possible.

Tentative release date: July 9, 2015.

In a future Earth, sometimes the Big Bad Wolf is the good guy. Hakon sidUlfr , a wolf shifter from another planet, is sent to make sure that physicist Lauren Ivers lives long enough to complete her project, but one harrowing day will put their survival at risk, as well as their hearts.

I’ll let you know more as soon as I know more!

New Story – Runespell in Once Upon a Fairy Tale

Now, those of you who have followed me forever…and possibly forgotten I existed…may remember a very old story I had on here for a long time. Kind of an oddball little fairy tale retelling called Runespell.

A few months back, Dani Monsch, a fellow Romance Diva, had the bright idea to put together a fairy tale anthology and called for authors. I’d kind of been itching to fix Runespell – it was too short and the voice was weird – so I signed up. I rewrote the story from scratch and sent it in two days late because I had connectivity glitches.

ONCE UPON A FAIRY TALE released today – 11 fairy tale romances including Runespell!

Cool, yes? Yes, it is. 🙂

OnceUponAFairytale3D_2500pxSo here’s the bit on RUNESPELL:

In most fairy tales, the prince rescues the princess. It’s not often she gets to return the favor. Mai Westenra is pulled into a centuries old quest for vengeance and magic, never realizing that she’ll find love in the midst of danger. Tyr Halvarsson has waited lifetimes to be rid of his curse. Resigned to his immortal half-life, one selfless act of humanity can redeem him. Or kill him. Together, Mai and Tyr must work against time and magic to work the runespell that will save their lives and give them a chance at love that lasts.

And here’s the bit on ONCE UPON A FAIRY TALE:

On SALE for $0.99 – Limited Time Offer!

Join NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling authors as they invite you to explore the world of Fairy Tales in Eleven Exciting New Ways!

Experience the story of The Nightingale through a Steampunk landscape, or follow Rapunzel through Sci-fi adventures. There is the modern woman who steps out of her front door and into the Fairy Tale Realm, and there is the modern woman whose life resembles a Fairy Tale – one involving a slipper. Maybe you’d like to find out just who that Big Bad Wolf was and why he was so interested in Red, or maybe you’d like to go behind the scenes and see what those Fairy Godmothers are up to while everyone is getting their Happily Ever After.

Whatever your flavor of Fairy Tale enjoyment, you’re sure to find it here! ACT NOW before this limited time box set is gone!

Amazon

B&N

Kobo

Apple

As ever, if you feel inclined, leave us a review! We even have a Goodreads page.

Hope you enjoy our stories!

PS: Our first review on Amazon said this: One of the best quotes of the collection is from Runespell, “So you got blindsided by a magical slut, it happens.” (from reviewer Yvette)

Magical sluts for the win!