Nov 3, 2014

Conquering My Synopsophobia


I'm going to share this in the hopes that it can help someone else. I'm by no means a expert, but when I find something that works so well for me, I like to share.

Also, I need to preface this post with a few disclaimers:
  • I write short category romance which means a tight word count(~50K). Although I expect that every romance needs all three GMCs per character, it's imperative for my process that I know all three GMC before I start writing if I don't want to waste lots of time with revision.
  • On the Plotter/Pantser scale(At least today), I'm about 70/30, leaning toward plotter. If you're a pantser, I think it can be helpful if you can define these things before you start writing.
  • This might not be the thing you want to send to your editor if you're still uncontracted. But I personally am using this as part of my new-book-starter-kit... since it helps me envision the book enough that I have a good foundation before I start writing. Makes it easier for me. As with all writing advice, Your Mileage May Vary.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the concept of GMC(Goal/Motivation/Conflict), Deb Dixon's book is now available in e-format

Like almost every writer I've met, I have harbored an intense loathing of writing synopses. Before my current project, when I've started a new book, I've written (at best) a three page synopsis for my editor for proposal. And they were quite rambling things.

Old Synopsis Format

  • First two pages: Heroine and Hero's backgrounds, focusing on formative moments to explain Internal and External GMC. (Note: only 2 types of GMC focused on here)
  • Third page: How the story started. And usually I could give at least three chapters worth of stuff... how I saw the story beginning.
  • That synopsis format always ended with me flailing and an announcement to the effect of: THERE WILL BE A BLACK MOMENT AND HAPPILY EVER AFTER, BUT THAT'S ALL I KNOW RIGHT NOW. I'M SORRY. (I'm neurotic, I apologize for everything.)

New Synopsis Format

  • First Page: The Quick Backgrounds page. Where each character comes from, what kind of personalities they have, what they're doing at the start of the story. Not really a place for the GMC's. Quick means quick. Short. A couple single spaced paragraphs. If there is anything else of note(like pertaining to the External plot), I give it a quick background too.
  • Second and Third pages: A single chart that lists the GMC for Internal, External and Romantic threads for each character.
  • 3 GMC Chart
  • Fourth+ pages will be in tomorrow's post! And it will make pantsers want to scrub their brains, no doubt... but it's part of my own personal new synopsis glee.
That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll explain what's in the final section of the synopsis and how I manage to summon it before writing these days.


  1. I am scrubbing my brain out right now. Scared of the next installment... *Runs away screaming with hands over her ears.* Seriously, though, thanks for sharing, you always have great ideas!

    1. I'm always embracing(stealing) bits of other's process, so it's a constantly evolving thing. I am loving this format though. :)

      And the second part of this is already up. I put this post up yesterday, I just didn't link it on Facebook until today because I was afraid I wouldn't finish the other post today... At any rate, the linky-sentences at the bottom take you to the truly brain-scrubby post :)


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