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Storyboards and Short Synopses

I finished the first draft of a two-page synopsis for my mystery. I used my storyboard tracking, and it was much easier than any other method I've tried. For longer synopses, some will summarize each chapter as they write, then combine them for a rough draft of a synopsis. However, to condense 32 chapters into 2 pages, I found it easy enough to look at my sticky notes, decide which points were significant enough to include, and summarized the book that way. Had I gone with a scene by scene, or chapter by chapter summary, it would have been much longer, and probably confusing to a reader.

Since the primary focus of the synopsis was the mystery, I spent most of the time on the cop's investigation. It wasn't necessary to include every step in the investigation, so the first 10 chapters of the book are covered in 5 paragraphs, and most of the middle chapters are condensed even further. Unlike a blurb, which is a 'teaser', a synopsis is supposed to cover the entire book, the solution of the crime and capture of the bad guy has to appear, and I spent about 4 paragraphs covering those points.


The short synopsis is the answer to "What is your book about?" more than "Tell me the story." Think being able to cover it over coffee, not a six-course meal.

The short synopsis hits the high points, what motivates the characters, and what they have to gain and/or lose. There's no room for secondary characters. Some suggest you don't even name them other than the protagonist(s)—since I'm used to romance, I've always shown both hero and heroine in the synopsis, but this is a mystery. Since I have two other POV characters, I couldn't figure a way to exclude what they're doing and what happens. I have two characters at the center of the mystery: Rose and Sam, an elderly couple. Justin is Rose and Sam's grandson; Megan is their ward. I decided that I had to name them in the synopsis, because there was no easy way to refer without convoluted descriptions. It's one thing to speak of the character's sister, uncle, secretary, or what have you, but none of these characters are related to Gordon.

I don't bother naming the other cops who are involved in the investigation, or even the name of the bad guy. And in doing such a short summary, the entire thread where Gordon finally hooks up with Angie doesn't appear at all.

I'll let it sit for a day, then look at it and see if it makes sense.

And then it's time to move forward. Since I no longer have an agent, and this manuscript is an entirely different genre, I will have to start from the beginning with query letters and the inevitable rejections. But that's part of the business.

I hope everyone had an excellent weekend. Our Thanksgiving with my daughter's in laws was "untraditional" in that they were staying at a timeshare condo and didn't have much of a kitchen to work with. Plus, being on vacation, they didn't want to spend a lot of time cooking. I ended up buying a turkey the next day and cooking it so we have those critical leftovers. And I made pie. Pumpkin-apple. Recipe on request.

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interested

Terry,
I have never published anything but found your article intersting and informative. Can you tell me more about "storyboard tracking" and how it works.Is it a program on the computer or just something you do when writing a novel?
I have been thinking of writing a short story and/or trying to publish a book of poetry but haven't the foggiest idea how to start!
I just joined redroom in Ssept,and have been journalling on the blogs.Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Heather - glad you liked

Heather - glad you liked this post. I have a "handout" summarizing how I use my storyboard to track rather than plot, and an "idea" board to figure out where my story can go. It's definitely NOT a computer program; I use it to get a fresh way to visualize my story. You can see the overview at http://www.terryodell.com

Good luck with your writing!