Start a Synopsis with the Cornell Method

+ FREE Printable

The Story on One Piece of Paper

I like to write without having it all figured out. It probably takes a long time that way but it keeps me engaged with the story in a whole other way than if I already knew every little hiccup of the characters and events unfolding. But writing a crime thriller I need to leave some clues and that is difficult to do when I am still trying to figure out the real victims and villains of unlucky chains of events. 

This week I am working my way through the “Storygrids’ free 5-part Story Grid Course“. I have watched the first three videos and they have been really helpful and well explained. They offer some very helpful resources as well. One of the main ideas is to be able to get an overview of your novel on only one piece of paper.

Because I am still in the exploring phase of my WIP and in a learning by doing mode when it comes to the thriller genre, I wanted to come up with my own idea for how I can still use the idea of a single piece of paper overview before I am ready to really take advantage of the Story Grid at which point I would probably also buy the book (this is not an affiliate post by the way)

So I am trying to surpass the problem by mixing up the strict plotting and the happy go lucky writing attitude with a notetaking method that I learned a couple of years ago. It is called the Cornell Method and you probably know it if you are already into note-taking.

A free printable for taking cornell notes for your book idea.
  1. First I decide if these notes are for my beginning, middle or end of the story. Then I fill out the largest field of the paper with brainstorming ideas.
  2. When this is done I put the best ideas into the left column.
  3. The last part is where the magic happens. I choose one key idea from the left column. The criteria for choosing is either what will make the story move forward or what idea sparks the most joy for me.

This procedure means that I will pick up the pen and write and at the beginning of writing a book I think that is the most important thing. But hopefully, it also means that the synopsis starts to emerge. Because when you have done this for both the beginning, middle and end of your novel you can gather the key ideas from the bottom of the pages and put them into a sentence or paragraph.

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