Monday, April 2, 2018

Jane Godman & The Dreaded Synopsis

Please welcome Jane Godman to the blog today!
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The story is finished. The characters have reached their happy ending. It’s time to put your feet up and reach for the champagne…

Except for one last thing. The dreaded synopsis. It’s the moment many authors, myself included, loathe. I’ve seen it described on Twitter as “synopsis phobia”.  Personally speaking, I would rather write a book than write a synopsis. 
No, seriously. When I’m writing a story, my imagination runs free, my characters speak for themselves, and the setting is a real place in my mind. Okay, so it doesn’t always flow as perfectly as I’ve just made it sound. The point is that I’m in control. 

When it comes to synopsis writing, the opposite is true. There are constraints that spring up like manacles. I can’t tell a synopsis the way I can tell a story. 

To put it simply, a story is something I do, while a synopsis feels like something that is being done to me. Having written the book, I now have to condense it into five pages for someone else.

What is even more limiting, and what took me a long time to understand, is that, in writing romance, you are not required to summarise the story. It’s the emotional journey of the hero and heroine that’s the key. 

There is reams of advice out there about how to tackle a synopsis. I’m fairly sure I’ve read it all.
I’ve created tables (I like the color-coded ones the best), spreadsheets, questionnaires… You name it, I will have a template for using it to write a synopsis. I’ve even used a few of them. Some more than once. 

Over time, I’ve narrowed my synopsis down to a series of bullet points: 
  • Who are my hero and heroine and why are they wrong for each other?
  • What changes do they undergo as the story progresses (plot)?
  • What internal (primary) and external (secondary) events are keeping them from being a couple?
  • The black moment and subsequent internal change that leads to commitment.
  • Resolution and reward.

I think my editor might look at that list and laugh, because I don’t always manage to stick to that neat, succinct plan. But I try, and, who knows? As time goes by, I may even start to enjoy writing a synopsis. 
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JANE GODMAN writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and SMP Romance and thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. She also self publishes her historical and gothic stories. She has been a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Nominee and The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Award Winner.
Jane worked in a variety of shops, bars, and offices before settling into a career as a teacher. She was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. Jane still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. 
When she isn’t reading or writing romance, Jane enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She is married to a lovely man, has two grown up children and has recently discovered the joy of becoming a grandparent (to two gorgeous boys).
 Connect with Jane Godman on the web:
Website         Facebook          Twitter

Colton and the Single Mom (The Coltons of Red Ridge)

This Colton cop falls for a ready-made family
A Coltons of Red Ridge story

A serial killer is on the loose, and true-crime filmmaker Esmée da Costa is on the case. K-9 cop Brayden Colton, the prime suspect’s half brother, works hard to stop her prying, but sparks fly as he falls for Esmée and her son. When Esmée and Brayden’s little family comes under siege, can they save all they love?

Read Reader Reviews

Buy on:

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Kobo        Book Depository        iBooks


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Thanks Jane!

13 comments:

  1. The full synopsis is tough. So is the short version that goes on the back. I must revise mine twenty times at least. However the logline - that I can do.

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    1. *Sigh* It just never gets any easier, does it, Alex?

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  2. Thanks for the advice, Jane. I always feel like mine sounds like a boring book report.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Natalie. I think that transition between telling the story and summarising it always feels that way. Perhaps that means we're doing it right?

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  3. That's a nice summation of a synopsis. I haven't had to do one for so long that I'm not even sure I could anymore!

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    1. Some people are very skilled at synopsis writing. Sadly, I'm not one of them!

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  4. Those bullet points are a great basis for a synopsis.

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    1. Thank you! I can't say with my hand on my heart that I always stick to them but I do try :)

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  5. Even the word synopsis sounds like something requiring nasal spray. Love your bullet points. Thanks!

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    1. Leslie, that actually made me snort with laughter! The first time I've done that about a synopsis :)

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  6. The synopsis! Yes, there's something about it that feels like homework or torture or a little bit of both.

    Thank you for the tips, Jane! Jemi, thank you for introducing us to Jane!

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    1. Homework is exactly right, Dawn. It's almost like we can't sit back and enjoy the achievement of completing the book. Oh, no. The evil synopsis fairy is lurking...

      Nice to meet you! Dawn, not the synopsis fairy...

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