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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tracey Devlyn - CTW: How to Write a Synopsis Without Losing Your Mind

 MayPosted On May 28, 2010 by 28, 2010 by Print This Post

 Posted On May 28, 2010 by

 CTW: How to Write a Synopsis Without Losing Your Mind

Good morning and welcome to Chaos Theory of Writing! RU Readers are in for a real treat today. Urban Fantasy writer C.J. Redwine switches gears to discuss the art of synopsis writing. If you’re a regular at RU, then you already know how gifted C.J. is at writing query letters. New to RU? Do a search on C.J. Redwine or query letters and browse through her query letter critiques. You won’t be disappointed. I’m convinced C.J.’s critique of my query letter helped me nab not only my dream agent, but my fantastic editor. High-five, C.J.!
Read on for C.J.’s fab thoughts on synopsis writing!
If you’re anything like me, the thought of condensing my 90k novel of fabulosity into a 2-5 page synopsis was about as thrilling a prospect as getting hit by a bus. I stared my manuscript down and felt intimidated enough to worry that while every other writer could summarize their books, I alone could not. Failure, however, was not an option. I needed a synopsis for many of the agents I queried. After I signed with my agent, I needed a synopsis for some of the editors on our list. And when I start a new project, my agent needs to see a general idea of what I think that project will entail. I quickly realized writing a killer synopsis was a skill I had to master.
There are several rules to writing a good synopsis. You’ll be grateful to know avoiding pans of brownies isn’t one of them. No one has proven conclusively that brownie consumption aids in summarizing one’s plot, but then again, no one has proven otherwise either. So, grab a brownie (trust me, it helps) and hang on for a quick crash course in what makes an excellent synopsis and how to go about writing one.
What a synopsis is:
  • It’s a narrative summary of your book written in the Voice of your manuscript.
  • It’s written in present tense. (“Jack goes to the library.” Not “Jack went to the library.”)
  • It’s written in third person.
  • It introduces only your main characters, main conflict, and basic emotional arc.
  • It delivers major plot twists and your ending. No cliffhangers allowed. Your synopsis must show that your plot has layers and hangs together until the end.
  • It mimics the pacing of your novel. It’s like your novel’s Mini Me.
What a synopsis is NOT:
  • It’s not a blow by blow summary of every single plot point in your book.
  • It’s not a backstory dump. That way lies Synopsis Death.
  • It doesn’t introduce every secondary character.
  • It’s not a dry list of events; it’s a skillful weaving of your characters, the stakes, and the major plot events that hurtle them from beginning to end.
How to format a synopsis:
  • Use the same font as your novel. (Times New Roman or Courier New. I prefer Times New Roman because more words fit on a page.)
  • Double space any synopsis over 1 page in length.
  • Make sure your novel’s title and your name are in the upper left hand corner.
  • You may indent every paragraph, or choose to only indent after you’ve written your main character’s intro paragraphs.
  • Introduce your main characters in the beginning paragraph(s) and set up the story there as well.
How long is a synopsis supposed to be?
  • There’s no hard and fast answer to this. Some agents want 1-2 pages, some want 5, some don’t care. I write a 5 page and then condense (rather viciously … cue brownie consumption) to 2 pages so that I have one of each.
  • If you need to condense, try these tricks: Give your main characters a one sentence intro (including story set up) rather than a paragraph, combine major plot elements into three paragraphs, one for each third of the book, change your font from 12 pt to 11 pt. And have a brownie.
Now that you’re familiar with the basics, how do you summarize your plot? What goes in? What stays out? At its heart, each book has three major sections. I suggest jotting notes beneath each heading and then turning that into a paragraph (or three, depending on the length of the synopsis you’re writing).
  • The Precipitating Event: What starts your hero or heroine on their journey? What happens to push them into taking action? What takes them irrevocably from where they were at the beginning of the novel to where they’ll end up when they’re finished?
  • The Road of Trials and Tribulations: The middle of your novel is full of bumps and jolts as your hero or heroine works his/her way through the escalating conflict and toward the conclusion. Not all of these trials and tribulations need to make it into your synopsis, but the major ones–the ones that push the emotional arc and the conflict escalation– should.
  • The Ultimate Triumph: This starts when the hero/heroine finally confronts the major conflict (the book’s climax) and carries through to their victory, redemption, and resolution. In a shorter synopsis, we don’t need a blow by blow, but we need to know what happens and that it makes sense.
Synopsis writing, like query writing, is a specialized skill that you can learn. It might feel like pulling teeth the first time or two, but it will get easier. Especially with a pan of brownies by your side. Summarize, condense, revise, and then do it all over again until you’re happy with the results. Happy synopsis writing! *hands you a double-fudge tiramisu brownie and a notebook* Now, get to work.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

This looks great!

Yield: 4

Turkey Thai Curry

Hi everyone, Nicky here, calling in from Kitchen Sanctuary with a recipe to use up your Christmas leftovers!

Turkey Thai Curry

A brilliant way to use up your Christmas leftovers! Get dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp lemongrass paste (optional)
  • 2 cups leftover sliced turkey
  • 2 Tbsp red thai curry paste (or replace with Indian tikka paste if you don’t want a hot curry)
  • 14oz can coconut milk (full fat)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock (water with half a stock cube is fine)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Small bunch fresh cilantro, roughly torn

To Serve

  • Boiled rice
  • Lime wedges
  • Extra fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add in the chopped red and yellow peppers. Cook on a medium heat for two minutes, then add in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass paste and cooked turkey. Stir gently for one minute, then add in the curry paste. Stir to coat the chicken and allow to heat through for one minute.
  2. Add in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a gently bubble (but don’t let it boil). Let it simmer gently for 10 minutes, then stir through the brown sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Taste and add more lime juice if required, then turn off the heat and sprinkle over the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with boiled rice, lime wedges and extra cilantro.

Check out

Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Casserole

I’ve been experimenting with different types of overnight breakfast casseroles. I made a decadent Caramel Pecan Breakfast Casserole where a sweet tooth is a must. It got the wheels turning as I thought about what else would taste good for breakfast. Then it hit me. I saw raisin bread on sale in the flyer and knew what my next recipe would be. I whipped up this Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Casserole and it couldn’t have turned out better!

The base is raisin bread which I love on it’s own slathered with butter for breakfast. Instead it’s topped with a milk and egg mixture and brown sugar and cinnamon topping. It’s sweet, yes, but so darn yummy!

I guess another name for it could be a french toast casserole. It has just a few extras in it.
Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Casserole
Yield: 8

Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Casserole

Sweeten your mornings with this divine Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Casserole recipe! It’s bursting with raisins, cinnamon and yummy raisin bread.


  • 6 slices of raisin bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Rip up raisin bread into bite sized pieces and layer at the bottom of the baking pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Pour evenly over top of the bread.
  3. Sprinkle brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon evenly over top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot. Drizzle with maple syrup, if desired.

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