The Heart of Your Story

Storytellers are artists and really great storytellers create a visual picture of what they want the reader to see.

One of the first things I talk about with new authors is the importanceof a synopsis. A synopsis is a crisp summary of the story which gives you a map of your intention for your book. This is different from a chapter plan or a story arc; the synopsis tells you where the book is at any given moment in your writing journey. The more familiar you are with the story, the easier it is to write. Drill down to the core of your story to come up with a message that describes the main plotline of your entire book.Don’t leave it to the end, have a synopsis ready even before you start your first chapter.

A synopsis will probably evolve as you develop your work or as you change focus or direction for the book. That’s why it’s important to update it every couple of months to keep it in line with your book.

Most publishers ask for three different lengths for a synopsis: a sentence, a paragraph and 100-200 words. The sentence or paragraph can be used as your ‘elevator’ pitch.The point of a pitch is that between the ground floor and the 6thfloor you would be able to tell a perfect stranger your brief story and they will want to know more.

Here is a sentence for The Little Stowaway, published earlier this year: A little French orphan wanders the battle fields of WW1, he becomes an Aussie digger and finds home.

A paragraph: A little boy’s family is killed in war, he wanders the battle fields of France. Forced to live off his wits, he learns how to survive. He yearns for a family and to be loved. From the battlefields of the Great War to outback Australia, a gripping coming of age tale of survival and hope.

100+ words: Not far from the Western Front, a ragged, hungry little French boy, an orphan of the First World War, came out of the fog on a freezing cold Christmas night in 1918 and wandered into an Australian airmen’s mess.

This little boy became their mascot and was affectionately named Young Digger. Air Mechanic Tim Tovell from Queensland adopted Digger and was determined, however risky, to provide the boy with a new family and a life in a new country far away.

With an uncertain past and an extraordinary future, this solitary boy’s journey stands as a shining example of the love between an Australian soldier and little French boy. How from war, enduring bonds continue to grow between these two countries.