Sunday, July 2, 2006

Synopsis - Example at your request

Following on from the last post where we talked about the best way to approach writing a synopsis, I received a request from Janet for one of mine to demonstrate how best to focus on the emotional conflict rather than the external plot device for conflict. Thanks Janet! Well, kinda...

Like I have said, I don't find these things any easier to write than you guys do, so I hope you'll keep that in mind with this one. Also, I am now in that enviable position where I can send my Editor a 'rough outline' and we then brainstorm it over the phone. I find this works best for me and probably for her too, as I have a real tendency to change things as I go along. Which is why I mentioned in the last post that finishing the manuscript before you write your synopsis is one of the best pieces of advice I was given when starting out!

So, as this is a book I brainstormed, I only have the 'pitch' in my possession... What I've done for you guys is take the original 'synopsis template' I used for my first submission (which I sold) so that you can see what works for me...

Now. This is by no means a template that will work for everyone. But what it does is show what works for me and what I'll be doing when I pitch my longer title book at an Agent (if I ever finish it...). It breaks the synopsis down into easily read sections, and it gives the outline of the book in the two pages required. What it also does, is show the Editor that you have covered all the points that she needs to know in order to decide whether your story itself fits into the line you are pitching it at...

Then all she needs is a sample of your writing in the three chapters you have sent to decide if it's worth her time looking at the full manuscript.

Still a step closer though, right??

As we've been using The Wedding Surprise as an example, a book that could so easily have fallen flat on it's face because of that external/outside plot trap, we'll continue working on it. And in order for you to see how the writing then backs up the synopsis and it's emphasis on the emotional development between the characters, you can then read an excerpt here, which was in the first three chapters, so shows you what the Editor would have read...

Synopsis for : ‘The Wedding Surprise’ by Trish Wylie
A Mills & Boon Tender Romance
50,789 words complete.

Setting: Dublin, Ireland – Most scenes in family homes of the Heroine and her family with additional scenes at the TV Station office where hero works.
Heroine: Caitlin Rourke, twenty-eight year old Chef.
Hero: Aiden Flynn – Thirty year old Television Producer.
Conflicts: Through terms of a reality TV Show, are forced together and required to spin a web of lies around family and friends. Heroine caught in an emotional battle as she initially can’t stand the hero yet still has to convince everyone she loves him. Hero forced to conceal his identity from heroine as his role is to cause her problems as the show progresses. Both have issues with commitment; Heroine due to the death of her fiance, Hero due to an unstable emotional childhood background spent in varying foster homes.
Hooks: Twist on ‘Marriage of Convenience’, theme of ‘opposites attract’ and added modern setting of a Reality TV Show. Emphasis on love in its many forms; for family, friends and romantically.
Basic Storyline: Caitlin Rourke discovers her family is in financial difficulty and stand to lose the family home where she grew up. So she accepts a place on a reality TV show in order to win the money. But to do that she must lie to all the people she holds dearest and having had their unconditional love and support for all her life, especially when her fiance was killed, she knows it will be the toughest thing she’s ever had to do. But when she finds herself falling in love with the man pretending to be her fiance, she has to find a way through the web of lies and broken trust. So that the people she loves understand why she wants to be with someone whose life has been such a polar opposite to her own. A man who she discovers has been telling an even bigger lie all along and may well have broken her trust in him beyond repair…
Key Scenes: (1) Having not been impressed by her first impressions of Aiden; scruffy, bearded and antagonistic, Cara suggests they make a questionnaire for each other and study it so that they can be more convincing when they talk to family and friends. It is only in the intimate settings of their beds, across the hall from each other in the dark, that they first begin to open up and talk. Aiden learns that his initial impression of Cara as having led a ‘perfect life’, a fact that brings up a lot of resentment in him due to his own past, was in fact wrong, when she tells him for the first time of the fiance she loved, who was killed in a motor-cycle accident.
(2) After an argument we discover that Aiden is in fact, the Producer of the show, a fact he keeps concealed from Caitlin, as he has put himself there to make sure that the lies become more difficult for her as the show progresses. With a camera crew watching on his side of the door after Caitlin escapes to her room, they have a conversation through the door where Caitlin learns of Aiden’s past and they come to a tentative agreement wherein they pledge to use memories of the way they were in past relationships as a basis for the way they will be with each other to convince people they are in love.
(3) Having got through a dinner and Q&A at Caitlin’s family’s home, a transformed, beardless Aiden, talks to Caitlin in the garden. He realizes what it is costing her to lie to her family, even though he doesn’t entirely understand why she would put herself through it to get the money to open her own Restaurant; which is what she told him to protect her father’s fierce sense of pride. After Caitlin cries, Aiden wipes away her tears and tries to reassure her they will get through, and they share their first kiss realizing their relationship has begun to change.
(4) With the shared experience of working together to conceal the lies, Caitlin and Aiden begin to open up to each other. Aiden talks about the Father he hadn’t known for most of his life and the project he has been working on to finish the lifetime’s work of a man he barely knew. Caitlin reads the book Aiden has written based on his Father’s research and realizes that although his Father was a historian, it is Aiden who has layered a love story through each generation of the history, demonstrating Aiden’s need for love in his own life. She realizes she may lose him at the end of the show, because if her family and friends can’t forgive her for what she has done, she may have to chose between them and Aiden, the man who would always remind them of that deceit.
At the same time Aiden launches a plan to show Caitlin that he has fallen in love with her, knowing that he needs all the help he can get when he finally reveals his betrayal on their ‘Wedding Day’. In order to win the prize money, Caitlin believes they must both say ‘I do’, when in fact Aiden had never intended to say it. So in front of a room full of friends and family, he must publicly jilt Caitlin, and reveal who he is. Taking a chance that he may lose her forever.

So there you go. So what you now have to ask yourself is, if you were in an Editor's shoes, and you read that synopsis and a partial as demonstrated at the link I gave you, would you want to see the rest of the book? You can answer no if you want, but I'n not doing a poll on it, okay?? And that's all we want the synopsis to do. The manuscript then has to sell itself...

The Editor may later use your synopsis as a basis for her own work in putting together the package to market it. But she'll have read it and will know it herself by then. And I'm a great believer in never teaching your 'Granny to suck eggs'. All I do is write them. After that I leave it to the people who know what they're doing...

Any more questions on Synopses then you have a day to ask them... and then I'm moving on to Editing - which is the next most popular vote on the poll... Unless you change the voting by the time I go to write it that is...

6 comments:

Natasha said...

Trish, you forgot to mention that writing a synopsis is a black, black art ....

Trish said...

Oops sorry... it is though...

BLACK... BLACK... BLACK art...

In fact, darker than that...

And I just found a mistake in my synopsis but am too lazy to go back and change it. I'm hoovering to eighties rock at the minute while floundering through a website change... A gals gotta do what a gals gotta do... even if that means singing along loudly... and off-key...

JENNA said...

I'm changing my synopiss template. I always write mine kinda like a book report - you know, the way you see all the suckopsis examples? And I always get reactions to issues the syno has, that don't exist in the book. Maybe with this new format things will be more clear for the editor.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Trish. That's so helpful. And after reading the synopsis and extract I just had to dash to Amazon UK and buy a copy!

Just out of curiosity would this story have fit the new Romance line? I'm guessing that most of the recent stories in the present Tender line would, but I'd be interested to hear what you think. :)

Janet

Anonymous said...

Oh, just one more question on your synopsis.

Do you keep those paragraph headings you have in your template (ie characters, setting, conflicts etc) or delete them and just start a new paragraph for each point?

Janet

Trish said...

Thanks Jenna!!! It took me an age to find something that really worked for me... May it bring as much fairy dust your way as it did me...

Janet - am gonna answer questions in the main body of the blog if thats okay???