Archive for the ‘novel synopsis’ Category

Thanks to everyone who contributed to past posts!

I want to talk about what is involved in “filling in the blanks” when plotting a story.  Having been an elementary teacher for so many years, and knowing how much my students liked “filling in the blanks” instead of writing essay answers, I longed for a way to do that when plotting a story or a novel.  When I learned about the three-act structure, it helped tremendously, but I still had to rely on my mind to tell me, “What happens next?”

Then, I heard about the Hero’s Journey, but the question remained.  Then, Ridley Pearson talked about writing scene descriptions on index cards for his best-sellers, and I realized he was, in essence, filling in blanks in his plot.  By combining all three methods on plotting boards, I created blanks I could fill–first the 12 steps of the Journey.  Then, after moving those filled blanks to the three-act structure, I filled in the blanks around them in the structure.  Once all the blanks had been filled, the plot was done–along with the first draft of the synopsis!

Can a novel actually be planned by “filling in blanks?”  YES!!!  And the Hero’s Journey tells us what goes in the blanks.

Writers who have heard me talk about this combination of methods have said the new method was “revolutionary!”  A revolution is simply a new way of circling the same facts.  And that’s what FILL-IN-THE-BLANK PLOTTING is.  A new way of looking at an old challenge.

If you have another way of plotting that works for you, please share it here!  Perhaps, as happened in my experience, a new way of circling the task of planning a story may be born!


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I am available to speak for clubs or conference! 

My most requested topics are plotting, synopsis, and strong writing. 

Contact me through this site by leaving a comment and your contact information and I will get back to you ASAP.

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Linda: Thanks so much for Fill-in-the Blank Plotting. Your concept of planning the synopsis by using the colored scene cards makes your book worth the purchase price all by itself. Some people find writing the synopsis is nearly as difficult as writing the dreaded middle of the book.
– Dorothy Mobilia, author and copyeditor

The tip here: if you use scene cards to plot your novel, you can then also use those cards to help write your synopsis.

The cards end up with the main elements of your novel’s structure: introduction of key characters, major developments, big scenes, turning points, and such. Because the cards summarize the scenes in brief form, these index cards or bits of paper become ideal tools to quickly and easily create that synopsis.

Otherwise, many writers find it a daunting challenge. How do you take an entire manuscript, often hundreds of pages, and distill it down to a one- or several-page summary?

And a well-crafted synopsis is often a first test of your novel that an editor needs to see (plus a few sample chapters), before requesting the entire ball of wax.

(For details on the precise, structured method Linda George uses, see her new book, Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting, out this fall from Crickhollow Books.)

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