By Sherry Harris
In Northern Virginia wishing I was somewhere warmer
I worked in fits and starts. I soon realized I was writing the book not the synopsis. So I wrote the Wickeds. This is what I said: How do you turn a panster into a plotter? I tried but I’m afraid it will be easier to write the whole damn book in the next few weeks instead of doing a synopsis.
This is what Barbara Ross wrote back: The person who can write the ending of her book before writing the middle can’t do a synopsis? I don’t believe it. Here’s the advice I give everyone:
Pretend you are in a bar with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile.
- Start like this, “You wouldn’t believe what happened to my friend Sarah. Yes, she’s the one who was involved in the yard sale murder. But this time, something even more crazy happened. She… then start the story. Go as far as you can.
- Don’t be afraid to say, as you would in the bar, “Oh, and I forgot to tell you this part…”
- When it gets boring, say “That wasn’t even the craziest part. After that she…” and go as far over the top as you can. That’s the climax.
- Write that down.
- Go back, straighten it out.
- Go back and put her arc in, and some personal stuff.
Barb ended by saying: It’ll be a mess, but it’ll be a rough draft.
I didn’t have time to set up a weekend away. Fortunately, I went to lunch with SinC Chesapeake Chapter members Barb Goffman and Shari Randall. So I poured out my tale of woe to them. They said tell us your story. More came out of me than I knew was in me (thank you Barbara Ross!) but I was still having trouble connecting a couple of key events. They questioned me about the plot. Then Barb Goffman looks at me and spouts something off – something brilliant that connects the two events in a simple yet crafty way. I came home and finished the synopsis using Barb R’s story telling technique and Barb G’s idea. So a panster can become a plotter with a little help (a lot of help) from friends. I’ll let you know how things turn out next August!
Have you ever had to become a plotter or a panster? Which worked best for you?