Cue Theme from JAWS–The Synopsis is Coming

I’ve made one of those decisions. You know, the kind that come with a load of goal-setting and self-commitment? The ones you start out sure you’re going to follow through on and then, too often, they go missing somewhere along the way?

Well, I’m going to try and stick with this one. I’m going to apply for next year’s SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant.

The application process is pretty straightforward—there’s a form, a writing sample, and…a synopsis.


I could very easily let the synopsis, heck…the whole idea…intimidate me into not trying for this. If Mr. Spock were here, or Data, we could get a whole debate going about the exact statistical odds of me actually winning. (And, sorry, Data, I know you’re a computer, but I’d totally have to go with Spock on this one.) So I’m trying not to focus too much on how many trips to Chicago that prize money would fund and concentrate, instead, on what I can actually get out of applying.

Like the synopsis.

How many times have I (or you) heard that writing a synopsis before you’ve finished your book is the way to go? That it helps you hone in on what your hero wants, how she goes for it, where the conflicts lie, and what power/strength she brings to the story to overcome those conflicts? And, okay, how many times have you listened to this advice and then gone off and…written the synopsis? Until, you know, an agent wants one with the query letter?

I thought so.

Well, I have written one synopsis, and it didn’t stop the agent from requesting a full manuscript, so I know it didn’t stink. But, hey, that book was finished. Finished like six times!  Whereas, a lot of days, thinking about my WIP feels a lot like this:

So I’m taking an online class–it starts next week. (And if it’s a good class, you’ll hear more about it here.) I’ll be learning the format/structure of a synopsis, but I’m also really going to use the time to try and pull some of the very loose story threads I’m working with into a tighter weave. I’m hoping that, by figuring out what I need to know (and highlight) for the synopsis, I’ll get closer to the big points of my overall plot. I’m getting close to the end of my first draft, so this seems an okay time to start thinking more about this. Not to mention the timing of the class fell right into the only two weeks in the next few months where I don’t have something else scheduled! Can you say “Omen?!”

I figure, whatever happens, this step will move me and my story forward. Do I want to win? Well, duh…

Then I’d better take it seriously and do the best job I can. Which, I’m pretty sure, means learning more about my story and writing a STRONG synopsis. So move over, boys…

I’m getting in the boat.


  1. claudine says:

    What a great post!
    Good for you, Becky! Sounds like a good plan.You don’t want to share which course yet? We’ll look forward to hearing about it on completion.
    Holding positive thoughts for your scholarship.
    Go, You!


  2. Jeanie W says:

    Good luck! I applied for the WIP grant a couple of years ago, back when I was perhaps too green as a writer to be a real contender. And I was too green to know I was too green.


  3. I applied this year with a very short synopsis. Then I had to do a longer one when I got a request from an agent. I hate writing them but they seem to be a necessary evil in this business!


    • beckylevine says:

      Does that mean you hear next month?? I’ll try and type with my fingers crossed till then for you. That would be so cool!

      Like I said, I’ve done a short one for the mystery–just one page, and I think it was okay. But I SO knew that story by then. This feels seriously different. 🙂


  4. Laura Best says:

    I’ve applied for grants in the past with no success, but I’m going to do it again. Deadline looming in October. One thing for sure if we don’t apply we certainly won’t get one.

    Best of luck!


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