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  • Hetal Avanee

PitchWars - writing a simple(ish) Synopsis

Updated: Sep 8, 2021


Thank you so much to everyone reading this series of "getting ready for PitchWars" series of posts. I hope you're getting something from them, but please please don't hesitate to ask me questions should you have them.

And also a HUGE thank you to the hopefuls trusting me with their words for the "critique". I've completed 1/3 of the requests and I'm amazed by the talent in my inbox; I don't know how the mentors are going to choose just one. I don't understand how agents make their choices either! It definitely provides perspective into the process.

So, we've gone over two parts of the submission package (query letter & 1st chapter), now you must write the (dum dum dummmmmm) "dreaded" synopsis. But I have an unpopular opinion about them: I actually...enjoy them? They help me get my original idea down on paper from beginning to end - sometimes before I even have it plotted out on a beat sheet. Counterintuitive? Maybe, but everyone has a process and this might be mine. It's kind of fun to automatic write a 1-2 page synopsis, see how the story might end, and fit in the story around those beats where I can.

Now I know you're thinking "she's crazy pants" and "there's got to be something wrong with her" (so much, dear reader, so much, but not this I swear), but I promise that if you learn to use a beat sheet it could make synopsis writing so easy for you.

So, before you freak out as I did the first time I had to write one, just breathe. :) I'm going to make this as simple as I can. Again, I like to use the Story Structure method, so here's a breakdown of the beats.

Beat Sheet

You've no doubt heard about the Inciting Incident and Black Moment, but the other beats in his sheet were a game-changer for me. I'd seen those graphs about how stories should ebb and flow, rise and fall, but I couldn't figure out how to apply a picture to me stories. However, give me a spreadsheet and I'll need no explanation. Seeing the milestones in percentages, seeing the highs as specific beats at specific times, helped me make my writing stronger.

But how does this correlate to a synopsis?

Well, I fill in the beat sheet for the main plot; the big "fight against evil" at the heart of all my stories. Who is the MC, who is the big bad, what brings them together, and how will it end? Remember, the synopsis is where you tell the story secrets; don't put those in the query but do reveal them here. Use complete sentences and try emulating the voice of your MC; tell us what's unique about your story and why the mentor/agent should want to read it.

Hard? Absolutely. Impossible? Definitely not!

I know what you're thinking: but what about my sub-plots? Well, if you're writing a 1 page synopsis, the bad news is you probably won't have room for them. And if you have 2 POVs you have to write out in a 1 pager? There DEFINITELY won't be room for the subplots. Save the subplots for a longer synopsis.

So now you're ready for the PitchWars submission (query + 1 page single-spaced synopsis + 1st chapter), right?

I know it's nerve-wracking to think what you wrote isn't enough, that you're not enough, but that's just not true. Make friends with other hopefuls, exchange pages, and give feedback!

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