This past week or so I’ve worked on synopses for 3 more stories in the Cowboys of Eden Valley series. And I think they are the strongest I’ve ever done. Maybe after 17 years of publication (how can it possibly be that long?), 45 published books and numerous unpublished manuscripts, I am learning how to create a story. (By the way, a synopsis is the treatment of the story showing character goal, motivation, conflict, revealing the major points of the story and how they will create a character arc and of course, the happy ever after ending. All in about 6 pages.)
Yes, I am the world’s slowest learner… not something I’m proud of but rather something I’ve learned to accept.
I joined ARWA http://albertaromancewriters.com/ in 1993 where the president, Judith Duncan, taught an in-depth series on writing a synopsis. I attended the meetings, listened to the lectures and I tried to create a synopsis. I confess I never did figure out how follow her method though I learned a LOT from the lectures.
I took courses. I read books. I attended workshops and intensives. I listened, I learned, I practiced. I continue to listen, learn and practice. I collected all sorts of charts for character development. My favorites are
1.Alice Orr, No More Rejections
2. Michael Hague http://www.storymastery.com/
with his teaching on need, wound, fear, identity and essence.
I also studied plot development. My favorites in this are
1. the W plot
2. and Deb Hale’s workshop on the Hero’s Journey. http://www.deborahhale.com/loversjourney.htm (I highly recommend both of these presenters’ workshops).
Yes, I have lots of tools at my disposal and have developed my own hashed together method of developing a synopsis but using the tools to translate some airy-fairy ideas into a solid structure, that is the challenge.
For fellow writers out there: what are some of your favorite books and workshops for learning to write a synopsis?
For non-writers (readers) are you surprised at how much learning goes into writing a story? (I certainly have been.)