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The first time I had to write a synopsis, I ended up with a huge headache and the impulse to bang my head against the wall (which I'm sure wouldn't help the pain). I can sit down and type the rough draft of an MG in 17 days, so how can one little page or two feel so hard? I'm not sure when I first came up with the trick, but on my second full sweep of a manuscript, I usually open a new file and paste into it any plot points or interesting phrases that might help my synopsis. Depending on my mood, I'll either copy it into another file and delete like crazy until I'm left with a few pages of fragments to use, or I'll print it out, circle or star the possibilities, and scratch out the rest. Then I play. And revise. Send through amazing crit buddies. Revise, revise, revise. Send through crit buddies again (especially a few who have never read that novel and can tell you if something is unclear). Even though it still feels like a lot of work, the whole process is much easier for me now. I'm not sure if it's the trick or that I'm actually (gulp) getting used to writing a synopsis.

Do you have any tricks when writing a synopsis or query letter?

Thanks to all the incredible writers who helped perfect mine! I think it's about ready to go. I'll let it sit for a bit, then print it up tonight so I can finish my SCBWI WIP Grant for a Contemporary Novel application. Good luck to everyone applying! I hope to see many of my LJ and Blueboard friends on the list!

Ooh, before I forget, are any of my PB writing friends looking for a group? Mine currently has an opening. We're a friendly, dedicated, and fast-paced group with a mix of published and unpublished writers. We typically have 5 – 6 members, and submit on the 1st and 15th (with critiques due by the next submission date, so you would have 4 – 5 critiques to do twice a month.)

If interested, please send a short bio of your writing and critiquing experience, plus a picture book writing sample (all PASTED into an e-mail) to Mindyaweiss AT yahoo DOT com by Friday, March 14. I’ll share these with the group, and we’ll choose a new member over the weekend. I look forward to reading your samples!
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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
cynthea has info. about writing a synopsis on her web site www.cynthealiu.com.

Good luck!
Mar. 11th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tammi! It took a while to assemble all the materials, but I'm ready to mail my grant application today! And you're right--Cynthea does have amazing information about all aspects of writing on her website. And she gives amazing free-tiques!
Mar. 10th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
*jaw drops* Right before I decided to check LJ, I was looking up info on synopses writing. How ironic this is!

Thanks for telling us your trick. <^^> I might be able to incorporate some of this.
Mar. 11th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I hope the trick works for you, too. :) Good luck writing yours. Let me know how it goes.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 11th, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. When I read mine to my daughter, she thought it sounded like the blurb on the back of a book. I guess the major difference is that you do have to give the ending away.

Congrats for the compliment your agent gave you--that's wonderful!

I love your icon. So cute!
Mar. 11th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
I LOATHE writing a synopsis. Congrats on your progress and figuring it all out! Fingers crossed . . .
Mar. 11th, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Deb. :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 04:53 am (UTC)
My favorite book for explaining synopsis writing is Give 'Em What They Want: The Right Way to Pitch Your Novel to Editors and Agents, A Novelist's Complete Guide to : Query Letters, Synopses, Outlines.

This is weird, but sometimes I find it easier to write one about 1/3 of the way through a WIP. I think maybe because since I haven't written the rest, I only have the big picture stuff in my mind. By the time I get to the end of my WIP, I can't see clearly & I get bogged down in the details.
Mar. 11th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing! I've never read the book you suggested but it sounds great. A while back, I bought an e-book that taught how to write query letters and synopses, and gave examples of ones authors used that had worked.

It's great that you know the best time for you to write a synopsis. Mine definitely seems to be during the second full sweep of a manuscript. The first full sweep, I'm too busy clearing up any muddle, rearranging, etc. to even think about a synopsis (especially for a NaNo novel--I ended up cutting over 12,000 words, most in the first sweep, but a couple thousand in the second, and as a result of critique group feedback).
Mar. 11th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
Oooo--I hate the synopsis! I'm definitely getting better, but it is frustrating. I know with my first book, I went through and wrote one sentence to sum up each chapter, creating a vague sort of sentence outline. With the second I had outlined it ahead of time, which made a synopsis of the WIP (for grants and scholarships) a little easier to create.

But I find that what I really need to build my synopsis is a clear perspective on my MC's journey. The sort of "what, why, where" attack to get to the the heart of his emotional journey. Still chasing it down, though.

thanks for the tips, Mindy!

AKA GhostGirl
Mar. 13th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
Hi Mary Ann. One sentence per chapter sounds like a great idea!

You're welcome for the tips. Thanks for sharing yous. :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
I have no tricks so I appreciate you sharing yours. I'm horrible at these things and just struggle to create something that hooks the reader and doesn't sound like a grade school summary. Thanks again.
Mar. 13th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! Being able to use some of the MCs sayings helped make my synopsis more entertaining. I can definitely see a difference between my newest synopsis and ones I wrote a couple years ago for other novels.

Good luck writing yours!
Mar. 13th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting your tricks Mindy! I totally suck at writing this type of stuff, and the more tricks of the trade, the better!

Good luck with filling your PB member spot! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that SR's two new members will have "stick"ability!
Mar. 28th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
You're welcome, Sharon. :)

I think things are going fantastic with both SR and my PB group. And yes...I hope we'll be together for a long, long time.
Mar. 19th, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Once again you give great tips! Check my latest blog. I'm sending a Roar your way!!!!

Mar. 28th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks, Kim.

Ooh, and thanks for the Roar! Sorry that I haven't been on LJ in a while--I've been stuck in revisionville. When I get a chance, I'd love to send some Roars out!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


Mindy&#39;s head shot
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.


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