Tuesday, July 27, 2010



The Balrog. Demon of shadow and flame, and the nemesis of Gandolf the Grey. When confronted with the Balrog in the depths of Khazad-dûm, a rare glimpse of fear twisted the face of the great wizard. Gandolf Stormcrow and the Balrog fell, tied in a battle to the death.

I think we as authors often pitch ourselves in similar battles. We set ourselves up for frustration and plummeting feelings of sick, sticky failure when we face down our writing nemesis. We become Gandolf, and we face our beast of shadow and flame--our battle becomes...

Us vs the Synopsis of Evil

We fuss and fidget, worry and angst about what to put in to a synopsis and what to leave out. Do we write it from distant third? Do we say XXX is the story of... ? How can we fit the motivation, conflict and resolution and the romance all into 2...5...10 pages?? There's so much in this story!

Sound familiar? Yeah, been there, done that. I whined. I moaned. Then I pulled up my Big Girl Panties and dealt with it.

First, we need to fall out of love with our own words. If we let go of what we think is so damn brilliant, and peer through the pretty word glamor, we can see what's beneath. We need to realize that scene or snippet of dialogue we love so much doesn't necessarily belong in the synopsis. The synopsis is the story of the story, it is a blending of story arc, conflict arc and romantic arc, and their resolutions, and yet still be engaging enough to make readers want to keep reading, and then read the entire book.

Yes, I know. Daunting. The Blarog in the shadows of our Writer's Doom.

We need to be Gandolf. We need to realize in facing our nemesis, we face our fear. And, in many cases, our fear controls us, makes us (and our synopses) weak. I found a magic talisman that helped me battle my Balrog and win. I wish to pass this weapon on to you. Knowledge. A friend pointed me to this link, I signed up (IT'S FREE), and then downloaded a synopsis writing guide that took the fight out of my Balrog, and gave me the weapon to slay my nemesis.

Fighting the Synopsis of Evil? Go to Denise Vitola's site and sign up for her newsletter. When you do, you can download her HOW TO WRITE A FICTION SYNOPSIS THAT SELLS. Her guide was the magic I needed to triumph. You can also check out author Elana Johnson's blog she gives some EXCELLENT pointers on what point to include for writing a great synopsis, one's I incorporated into my last synopsis.

I've lifted a format for y'all from Elana's post, but make sure you go visit her, too.
Write ONE SENTENCE for each of these areas:

  • Hook - how the story starts
  • Plot Turn 1 - introduces the main conflict - moves the story toward the midpoint
  • Pinch 1 - introduces the villain/pressure to force action
  • Midpoint - the point at which your story moves from beginning to ending
  • Pinch 2 - more pressure/problems, so many that the situation appears hopeless
  • Plot Turn 2 - the MC has what they need to overcome the main conflict - moves the story from midpoint to ending
  • Resolution - how your story ends
With this magic, you too can become like Gandolf, do battle, best your nemesis and temper your writing wizarding mettle. Gandolf became clean and White. Hopefully, you can become triumphant, you can become represented, and perhaps some day you can become a published author!

Gratuitous linkage:
Denise's website
Elana's blog


  1. Dude, I'm signing up for that newsletter right now!! Thanks for the linkage. Also, your post was so much better than mine what with all the Balrog's and stuff. Le sigh.

  2. I second Elana's blog! I used her great posts about queries to revise mine. I'm going over there right now to revamp my synopsis ;)


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