Friday, February 6, 2015

Writing Blurbs and the Short Synopsis

Whew, has it almost been a year? Guess I needed some down time. So much has happened over the last year it's hard to know where to start. I've been working on conflict and backstory, doing some stuff on continuing arcs--but mostly editing. Yay!! I bought a house with my freelance money--or rather "qualified" for a house, since the bank owns it and I just occupy it. But it's technically mine, and it's still so new to me that it feels like I'm paying rent to someone else, without a maintenance safety net. Super scary.

I spent yesterday talking to someone about their short synopsis, and realized I'd never put my template (so far as I remember) online. I'm probably prejudiced, but I think it works great and use it all the time. You're welcome to use it, too.

Relationship driven story: first and second paragraph.

Introduce the hero or heroine and give a quick external set up, followed by his or her emotional conflict. Then do the same for the other person in the relationship. E.g.,

Davida Wells, a bed and breakfast owner, has been hurt by the man who swore to love her forever, but despite her stated belief that all men are jerks (this is her pertinent backstory) she still longs for a hero to sweep her off her feet (this is what she wants, deep down inside). Curran Jones is nobody’s hero. Badly wounded in Iraq, Curran shuts down after returning home to a fiancĂ©e who rejects him for the loss of his leg (this is Curran’s pertinent backstory. Because he is shut down, he’s in a holding pattern, ready to be disrupted by Davida. Notice the sentences run on, and I made sure to immediately identify Davida and Curran’s occupations).

Despite their instant attraction to each other, Davida can’t release her anger, and Curran can’t let go of his pain. Hurt by people they’ve trusted, trust isn’t so easy to give the second time around (this is the story’s central emotional conflict).

Third and fourth paragraphs: The external conflict, necessary story events, place setting if needed, what the hero and heroine need to do to, and what they have to lose.

When a collapsed culvert cuts off access to Davida’s remote inn, the only access is through Curran’s yard (this is the external conflict). After sinking her life’s savings into the inn, without access Davida will lose her home and independence (this is why it matters to the heroine and her motivation to keep going. It ties into her pertinent backstory i.e., external conflict and internal motivation should sync. Davida is lined up behind finding an access point through Curran’s yard “because” of her backstory. She “needs” to be independent. However, what she wants is in direct conflict to her motivation “and” the external conflict). Can she humble her pride and ask the town loner for help?  After erecting walls to keep people out, can Curran tear them down to let people in, including a woman with a chip on her shoulder so big he longs to knock it off?

With Christmas on the way, can two wounded hearts heal enough to make the holidays (this is what they both need to do in order to have a chance at a happily ever after) A BRIGHT AND SHINING TIME?

To help with title recognition and create resonance, try to end on the title. If not the title, use something that sounds like the title.

Plot driven story:

First and second paragraph: Simple plot set up and the protagonist’s emotional involvement with it. Foreshadow the external conflict.

Unseeelie fae Glinda nicKethys is tired of being a dark and dangerous villain, and moves to Grayton, Kansas for a fresh start. Unfortunately, something is stirring in Grayton and it’s not Mrs. Livinski’s famous oatmeal.

Second paragraph: More plot, intro the hero or secondary if needed.

The ground outside town has started to crack and all signs point to an earth demon. Too bad the sexy police chief Travis Lee says it’s a sinkhole, because Glinda is always right about these things.

Third and optional fourth paragraphs: How does the plot involve the protagonist emotionally? What does he or she need to do and what does she have to lose? Wrap it all up in a hook.

Glinda’s last boyfriend was an earth demon, and she suspects he’s back trying to rekindle an old flame. Can she get rid of her persistent admirer before he destroys the town and slaughters Travis? Or will she lose her only chance to be JUST A REGULAR GIRL?

Notice that each question triggers a sentence in the blurb. If you get stuck, just answer the questions in order.


Edith said...

Wonderful news Jodi. Congratulations on your new home. :)

jodi henley said...

Thanks, Edith! I'm thrilled about it. :)

Suzie Quint said...

Thanks for this. Blurbs create their own special headache for most novelists.

Congrats on becoming a homeowner.

jodi henley said...

Thanks, Suzie! I appreciate it :)