Wednesday 30 September 2020

Writing a Synopsis Before you Start your Story by Tamsin Cooke

I am one of those unusual people who like writing a synopsis. I didn’t use to. I hated it as much as I hate marmite (which is a lot!). How can you cram the plot points, the twists and turns, the character arcs and the themes in one side of A4? I devoured websites explaining how to do it.

Then one day, I had an idea for a brand-new story. Hoping to pitch it to my agent, I scribbled it down. And a synopsis was born.


It was easy and natural to write.  Because I hadn’t thought about any secondary characters yet, I simply included the protagonist’s journey. I worked out what her internal and external goals were and how she was going to achieve them. And I didn’t get bogged down with worrying about which plot points to include since I only knew the major turning events. I showed the conflict that drove the book forward and revealed an exciting ending. And in very simple terms, I described what my character had learnt and how her feelings had changed. I had a character arc!

This synopsis proved incredibly useful when I was writing the actual story. I referred to it, ensuring I was keeping to the essence of my story. I didn’t lose track of my character’s goals and I made sure her motivations matched her decisions. 


Now of course, it was just a plan. And the story changed as new ideas came. My protagonist  took me on different journeys and introduced me to new characters.  But the spine and heart of the story remained the same. After the book was written, I edited the synopsis.

Since then, I always write a one- or two-page synopsis before I begin. It keeps me on track, giving me a foundation. Plus I have something to work with when I’ve written the actual book, so I’m not pulling my hair our wrestling what to include.

Tamsin Cooke
Author of The Scarlet Files Series and Stunt Double Series
Twitter: @TamsinCooke1 


No comments: