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Article on Writing
Writing Your Synopsis
© 2001 Diana Redman

It's a good idea, before you put pen to paper, so to speak, to write down the bare bones of your story. Usually, you'll have formulated a plan in your head and have some idea of where your story is headed.

Only make bullet points, don't go into too much detail at this stage.

The beginning of your story should have an immediate impact on your reader. Think about how you feel when you go to buy a book - you read that first all-important paragraph and if it doesn't grab you - you leave it on the shelf.

Try to write that first paragraph. Give it some tension, some suspense and let your reader immediately 'get to know' the character by using their name and/or some dialogue within the first few lines. Let your reader identify with your story.

Write the final bullet point i.e. how the story ends and then fill in the middle with the rest of your plot.

Try to weave in a sub-plot because this is how you'll put pace into your writing, by leaving the threads of one plot to move to another.

Personally, I write the back cover of the book first. You know, the part you read before you read the first paragraph. The hook that makes you want to open the book and read it. This gives me an idea of where I'm going.

Then I write the character biographies, everything that I know about these characters is here and then, when they begin to develop lives of their own as I write, which they inevitably do, I can check back to see they're not 'going off course'.

Then I write the bullet points and ask myself these questions:

  • What happens to my character?
  • How does he/she resolve what has happened?
  • Can they resolve it?
  • Who does it impact on?
  • What happens as a result of that impact?

Although planning can be boring, it is a structure that will help you place the 'meat on the bones'. Otherwise, you can spend an awful lot of time, as I myself have done, re-tracing your steps to pick up unrelated bits of your writing and move them around.

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