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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Try a Synopsis First

When I was invited to blog on this lovely site, I was told “Anything Goes—Let ‘r Rip. We’re Pantsers here.” So I feel right at home. In writing my newest book, Jeanne of Clairmonde, I had only a vague idea and yes, a synopsis, about a French girl whose land was being taken from her. Somehow, though, I saw her in a convent when the story opened. I began writing, wondering how she had gotten there. Over the next few weeks, Jeanne became very real, and took on a personality all her own. Then Nicholas, the hero, strolled in. He was just as adamant about who he was: an imposing medieval squire. I did as I was told.
When they both ended up in prison, I had no idea how they could get out. They were surrounded by guards and checked on hourly. Besides, they were in a heavily fortified English prison.
I won’t ruin the story, but suffice it to say that Jeanne came through, taking me every step of the way.
Whew, I thought. Never again will I allow my characters to drag me along on their escapades, causing me sleepless nights, worrying about what would happen next.
Jeanne, though, is headstrong. If you read the reviews of my book, you’ll see that she came through the pages exactly like she wanted to—a clever and independent woman who gave Squire Nicholas a run for his money!
No writing method is right or wrong. What’s right for you is what works. For me, I’ve found that writing the dreaded synopsis first gives me a place to start, even if it gets changed by your characters later. After writing my synopsis, I put it away a few weeks, then take it back out and read it with an editor’s eye, to see if the book is just a series of events, or if it truly tells the story of someone’s journey. So does my synopsis tell the editor or agent what the hero/heroine want and how they will change? Now you can think about the book, because we have a goal in mind. We need a Hook, the Call to Action, and Choices to define our characters' goals and motivations. Once we have that, we can go to the fun-to-write Gray and Black moments, followed by the Climax and Resolution. Do we know what those are? If so, it’s time to write. Try writing your synopsis first. I know your book will find a home.
To win a digital copy of Jeanne of Clairmonde, just leave a comment below. I’ll be drawing the name of the winner on August 14th. Check my website that day for the winner’s name, which will be posted on my Journal page. Good luck and happy writing.
Joyce Moore



This just goes to show that a book doesn't go the way you plan it to go. The people in the book sometimes act like real people and take a different path.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Joyce,
Your story resonated with me because I do something similar. I call my pre-writing a synopsis, even though it's very rough and I'd never show it to an editor. But it gives me an opportunity to tell myself the story.

Good luck with your new release.

Jana Richards

Helen Pilz said...

Good suggestions! Thanks.

Joyce Moore said...

Loretta: Thanks for the comment. Yes, characters can take us in different directions, but that's usually for the good!

Joyce Moore said...

Hi Jana: Thanks for the kind words. We seem to do the same thing to begin. My synopsis usually has to change, but al least it's a way to see if I have included the critical elements an agent/editor wants to see. Thanks for the comment.

Joyce Moore said...

Helen: I see we both write about ghosts. My first book, Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida is all about different public places in Fla. that are haunted. I had great fun writing the book and interviewing people about what they had seen. Glad you liked my post.

Shannon Robinson said...

Hi Joyce! Your story of Jeanne sounds wonderful - and I love the cover! Very beautiful.
Writing a synopsis has always been rather difficult for me. I suppose it has to do with trying to merge the words I've already written into this "essay-style" paper. It drives me crazy! LOL! Do you have any reference books on writing a synopsis that you would recommend?
I've never tried writing the synopsis before writing my stories, but I think that I may start - or at least give it a try. It definitely seems like a good idea to have an outline, per se, of the story idea.
Shannon Robinson

Clare Revell said...

I tend to write using both methods. One I just finished I wrote the synposis first. Looking back on it almost nothing was the same by the time Liam and Clara finished with it. Apart from the fact I knew what secret each was hiding and what would bring them together in the end.