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What writer doesn't dread creating a synopsis? Prolific author Karen Wiesner makes the project simpler in five easy steps.

Drive-Thru Synopsis
Karen Wiesner

Five fast and easy steps, and you're on your way. . . We live in a world where efficiency is king: If I can't have it in a few minutes, I don't want it. Unfortunately for writers, they haven't invented anything that makes you more creative. . .faster. Well, I can't give you a brain cream, but these five steps can make it seem a little less like putting your own head in a noose every time you approach the blank page or screen that's waiting for your synopsis.

First of all, I'll explain the difference between a synopsis and an outline, since it seems to be the most common misunderstanding. A synopsis, plain and simple, is a summary of your novel. An outline is more detailed. It covers all the major points of the plot, chapter by chapter.

The recommended guideline for a synopsis is one page for every 10,000 words (i.e. 60,000 word novel=6 page synopsis.) Remember, the shorter and more concise, the better. In a synopsis, put in only what's absolutely necessary to the plot and to the romance. (Easier said than done, I know.) This isn't the place for details. Editors want to see the bare bones of a story, not the flowery prose. They're not looking for good writing (that should shine through anyway) as much as your ability to put the entire novel into an easily understood block.

Another recommendation before you get started is to write the synopsis when you're finished with your novel or when you have a chapter-by-chapter outline of the plot. Otherwise you've defeated the purpose of being concise.

You've reached the drive-up window, and here's your order:

Step 1. THE TONE
The first thing you need to do is figure out the tone of your novel. Is it a drama? Is it a comedy? You'll want the tone of your synopsis to match the tone of your book.

Step 2. THE HOOK
The next step is to come up with a hook. A one-liner or brief paragraph that's meant to snag interest immediately. Don't get stuck at this step because it can be done last too. Just like the first line of your novel, worrying about a hook can prevent you from getting down to the actual writing. Leave a blank space if you can't think of anything right away and return to it later when you've come up with something clever.

Introduce the hero and heroine in the first paragraph and tell how they meet. Again, this isn't the place for flowery prose or character description (unless it's essential to the plot line.) Instead, tell what's important about their personalities, their careers, their current love life. Explaining how your couple meets will lead naturally into why their reactions to each other are different than their reactions to other men/women. We need to know why they're attracted to each other and how that attraction deepens enough to develop into something that will last forever.

Step 4. THE PLOT
Every novel, even a romance, should have some plot outside the relationship, no matter how slight. At this point in the synopsis, relate facts of the situation, embellishing it with how this brings the hero and heroine together. Also, how it pulls them apart. Depending on how long your novel is, this could take anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages. Give only what's important to the progress of the relationship and of the plot.

Step 5. THE END
Tie up the conflicts completely in the last few paragraphs of your synopsis. You've heard it a million times, but never leave the conclusions dangling with the attitude "I want them to be dying to find out how it turns out." How it'll turn out is editors will see you as an amateur and send you a "We don't feel this is right for us" form letter. Describe how the plot is resolved and give a happily-ever-after that'll make editors want to see the flesh and blood of these bare bones.

Next please!

. . . . . . . .

Karen Wiesner, named a "leading romance writer" by The Writer Magazine, is the best-selling author of the Gypsy Road Series, the Angelfire Trilogy, Dare to Love Series as well as upcoming Wounded Warriors Series (coming 2002) from Hard Shell Word Factory http://www.hardshell.com. Her fiction novels from Hard Shell have been nominated for Romantic Times' 1999 E-Book of the Year, the Frankfurt Award and multiple Eppie's. In Fall 2001, Hard Shell Word Factory published ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING Q&A, the compilation of Karen's now-defunct Inkspot column. The book includes bonus columns never previously released.

Karen is also the author of ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide {The Most Complete Reference to Non-Subsidy E-Publishing}, a bestselling, Frankfurt nominated writer's reference. The Guide was a finalist in the 1999 EPPIE and won the 2000 EPPIE for Best Non-fiction. The 2001 Edition is published by Avid Press, LLC http://www.avidpress.com, is excerpted in the 2001 Writers Digest Novel & Short Story Market and made the Inscriptions Books of the Year list http://www.inscriptionsmagazine.com/BOTY.html. A FREE preview (zipped HTML format) of the Guide is available by sending an e-mail to kwiesner@cuttingedge.net with "EPTDG Preview" in the subject line.

Avid Press is the publisher of Karen's first paranormal romance, SWEET DREAMS, which was a Reviewers' Top Pick for 2000 http://www.ebookconnections.com/Eclectic%20Reader/reviewers'_2000_picks.htm, received a coveted 4 1/2 star Top Pick review from Romantic Times Magazine and is a finalist in the prestigious 2001 Daphne du Maurier Award http://www.rwamysterysuspense.org.

Karen won the 2000 Inscriptions Engraver Award http://www.inscriptionsmagazine.com/Engravers.html for best online columnist, the Year 2000 for eXcellence in E-publishing Award: E-author from ebookadvisor and was a recipient of The Simply Charming Award for outstanding promotion of e-books. She was also nominated for the 2000 EPIC Florence Moyer Service Award.

Upcoming releases for Karen include: a book of poetry, titled Soul Bleeds The Dark Poetry and Other Wanderings of K.S. Wiesner (Atlantic Bridge Publishing http://www.atlanticbridge.net, July 2001), the 2001 edition of the Guide (Avid Press, July 2001), another non-fiction/writer's reference titled THE PRODUCTIVE WRITER {or how to avoid carpal tunnel with all those revisions} (Avid Press, LLC, Late 2001), a children's story written with Linda Jablonicky, called THE CODY KNOWS CHRONICLES (CrossroadsPub.com, Late 2002), as well as the first book of the Wounded Warriors Series, RELUCTANT HEARTS (Hard Shell Word Factory, Early 2002.)

Projects in the works for Karen: a mainstream romantic suspense called NO ORDINARY LOVE, the second book of the Wounded Warriors Series-WAITING FOR AN ECLIPSE, as well as a psychological thriller written with author Christine Spindler http://www.christinespindler.com titled DEGREES OF SEPARATION.


For more information about Karen and her work, visit her web site at http://karenwiesner.hypermart.net.

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