The slushpile

I’m very chuffed to be able to introduce Nicola Morgan onto this great blog to talk about her new ebook, Write a Great Synopsis: An Expert Guide. Hopefully it will help readers here as much as it’s helped me!

Hello, Strictly Writing readers and thanks for hosting me on the Write a Great Synopsis (WAGS) blog tour.

I have always liked writing synopses and I hadn’t realised what a problem writers had with them until so many people started angsting about it. Many of the questions I get are about how to write this thing that seems to me to be the simplest part of a writer’s work. So, that’s what Write a Great Synopsis is about. I aim to solve the problems and make the task simple and stressfree.

The WAGS blog tour consists of a mix of interviews and extracts. It’s an extract that I thought I’d offer you today. And there’s a competition, too – with prizes of synopsis critiques!

One of the crucial things that writers find most difficult is knowing what to leave out of a synopsis. My extract below consists of two analogies that help you visualise the answer to this.

(Reproduced from Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide)

The synopsis as a journey
Here is a way of thinking that I find useful. Imagine your synopsis as a journey. This is what we need to know:
1. Who is on the journey and why?
2. What is the intended destination and why?
3. What terrible thing will happen if they don’t reach their destination and who or what is trying to stop them?
4. What happens to knock the travellers off course?
5. What characteristics and tools do they use to get back on course?
6. What is their actual destination and who survives and with what injuries?

Here’s what we do NOT need to know:
1. The detours they took along the way.
2. The weather.
3. What they had for their picnic.
4. What they said to each other.
5. What the scenery was like.
6. The route in order.
7. The people they met on the journey, unless one of them is an axe-murderer or someone equally useful.

The synopsis as a healthy human
This is my other analogy. If your synopsis were a human, in order to see that the human is alive and strong we would need to see the healthy glow of the skin and that it is supported by a strong skeleton. We don’t actually see the skeleton, but we know it’s all there. We don’t need to see that the organs are all present and working – that’s obvious from the healthy glow of the skin and the light shining from the eyes. We do need to see the feet: the end of the story. A synopsis without an end is like a human without feet.
(Extract ends)

Analogies never present the whole picture but they are often a good start, offering a visual element to boost understanding of the rest of the argument. Write a Great Synopsis covers everything about synopsis-writing, clearly and reassuringly. At the end of it I believe you truly will say to yourself, “Don’t panic – it’s only a synopsis!” That is my aim.

All commenters below (by Feb 15th) will be entered into the Big WAGS Competition, with chances to win a critique of your synopsis by the Crabbit Old Bat herself! One comment per person on each blog – though you can add to your chances by commenting on the other posts on the tour. Details of all stops on the tour will appear on Help! I Need a Publisher! as they go out.

Thank you for listening and I do hope I can help you write a great synopsis! For details about the book, including buying options, go here.


Roderic Vincent said...

That was fun. Much more fun than writing a snops. I have about fifty versions of mine and the last thing I would want is feedback on it. I never want to see the thing again.

Gillian McDade said...

I've been deliberating over my synopsis which, at the moment, is just a rough outline.

Looking forward to reading the guide!

Rebecca Brown said...

Thanks for commenting! For more info about the book (which really is fabulously helpful) go here:

Sandra Davies said...

I very much like, and find potentially useful, the 'synopsis as a journey' idea.
I haven't yet tested the notion (and obviously it is doing it back to front) but I am sure that having contributed to Lisa Ricard Claro's 'Book Blurb Friday' for best part of a year I have a good understanding of what a blurb ought to do and imagine a synopsis has similarities.

MrsT said...

I like the idea of the synopsis as a journey too. I once read you should think about writing the synopsis (at least in draft) at the planning stages? I think it might need a lot of redrafting though because I know my plans change with the wind!
Thank you for great advice.

Fionnuala said...

I bloody hate synopsis (plural?!) - writing them and reading them. But this was really helpful. Thanks for popping by Nicola and good luck with the WAGS tour. F

DT said...

I liken writing a synopsis to trying to carve a matchstick into the likeness of Prince Charles (I don;t know why him, either).

Loved the post, Nicola and I really enjoy your blog. Maybe it's time I embraced my inner synoptee!

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. So I guess Roderic really doesn't want to win the competition (!) but good luck anyone who does.

Debs Riccio said...

Fabulous stuff, Nicola, thanks so much for being here and giving us such valuable insight into avoiding the dreaded Synopsis Syndrome. I don't mind them, myself, either, and I LOVE the human being analogy. I'm an analogy slut, me :) good luck with the book, it'll fly off the shelves I'm sure.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Oh, synopses... I'm a happy bunny because mine IS WRITTEN AND DONE (yay!!!). And there were probably fifty different versions of it along the way. Maybe if I'd had your guide, Nicola, it might have been a less tortuous process.

Lindsay said...

Still struggling with my synopsis. Not quite the healthy person it needs to be yet. Needs a few mor vitamins!

Kirsty said...

I'm a bit sad that you don't need to know about the weather in a synopsis - I was planning on starting mine with 'It was a dark and stormy night' ;o)

Nicola Morgan said...

Kirsty - ;)

sonia said...

thanks for tips - very timely as I have just started mine.

Candy Gourlay said...

Brilliant! I thought I'd conquered synopsis writing but your excerpt was so much fun, I had to go and download your dang book!

Caroline Green said...

Have downloaded this and been reading it. It's good stuff...

Nicola Morgan said...

Candy - !

Hello everyone! I just popped back to thank the Strictly bloggers and all of you for hosting me during my blog tour for WAGS. And thank you for all your comments, too. I hope that any of you who didn't feel confient about synopses feel a little stronger now!

I'm collecting names for the competition - there were a lot so it's going to take a while! - and I'll let Rebecca know if there were any winners amongst you. Thanks for commenting and to lots of you who went and read the other posts and commented there, too.

May the writing muse always be by your side, handing you chocolate as you go...