Today we have a very useful post about creating a relatively painless synposis (well, no more painful than writing the book!) from David Bridger, author of the recently released Beauty and the Bastard (available now from Liquid Silver Books). An excerpt from the book, including some of the scenes David discusses in the post, can be found on David’s website.
The Self-Writing Synopsis, by David Bridger
Most writers have at least one thing that bugs them, and for many that thing is writing synopses. The thought of condensing a mega-thousand-word story into one or two pages can be pretty daunting, and especially if it’s been left until the ‘submission package’ part of the process.
So I write mine along the way, in three stages, almost as a by-product. I’m not claiming I invented some totally new way of writing synopses. I’m sure people have done it like this before. But it works for me, and I thought I’d share it with you.
Here’s how I put my synopsis together while writing Beauty and the Bastard.
In Stage 1, I sketch a skeleton outline before writing, normally a sentence or two per scene. This was my outline for Chapter One:
- Saul supervises a demon digging his own grave then shoots him.
- Rebecca’s first glimpse of Saul in her uncle’s office.
- Saul drinks alone then returns to his daytime refuge on the rooftop, from where he sees Rebecca sleeping in an apartment below.
In Stage 2, I return to my outline to add details when I written the chapter:
- A dark and deserted clearing in the woods. Fallen angel Saul supervises his captive, a demon called Fenner, while he digs his own grave. Fenner offers every inducement to let him go free, but Saul is a hard-hearted bounty hunter and his brief on this occasion is to kill Fenner. In the end, Fenner attacks him, but he kills the demon.
- The Fortune Building in Manhattan – a demon family operation, similar to a mafia set-up – CEO’s penthouse office. Rebecca waits with her uncle’s PA outside his office while he talks quietly with Saul. Rebecca gets her first glimpse of Saul. She is intrigued by him and astonished at his harsh beauty.
- Saul drinks alone in a quiet bar, and people leave him be. He is silent, self-sufficient, and privately tortured by his condition and his sentence. He returns to his daytime refuge, an angel statue on the Fortune Building rooftop, from where he sees Rebecca asleep in an apartment below. She hasn’t seen him, so he dismisses her from his thoughts and prays his daily prayer to ask if today is the day he can go home to heaven. Receiving no answer, he melts into the statue for the day – imprisonment in stone during daylight being a part of his sentence.
In Stage 3, when the story is finished, each chapter’s notes are blended with elements of the story arc to form that section of the synopsis:
Saul the Bastard is a fallen angel who can’t remember why he fell. He knows he committed a sin, but his memory of it has been removed. His punishment continues, however, and he suffers the painful routine of transforming from flesh to stone at sunrise every day as a reminder. Saul’s only desire is to get back into heaven and everything he does is designed to achieve that goal.
Imprisoned in a stone statue by day, Saul works nights as a bounty hunter for powerful demon families he doesn’t entirely trust. Cherry-picking his assignments in order to rid the world of its worst demonic excesses, he is hard-hearted, secretive, and ruthlessly efficient.
Rebecca Drake is a modern day demon princess. Daughter of the most powerful demon in Las Vegas and niece of the most powerful demon in New York, she is a clever and determined fraud investigator in her own right. She is also on the run, following a brief flirtation with a dangerous Mojave Desert incubus named Hawk, and her uncle persuades Saul to assume responsibility for her night time protection.
Writing synopses doesn’t have to be painful.