The only teacher whom I’ve seen mention this is Robert McKee in his book STORY, but he doesn’t explain how it’s useful to the novelist, because he’s interested in teaching screenwriters.
This critical layer [of plotting] is the “sequence of scenes.” McKee explains in his book that the tension builds in intensity through a sequence of scenes–usually 3 to 5 of them. Then something important happens and the tension goes down. It begins building again in the next sequence of scenes.
When I read McKee, I realized that this is the golden key for writing the synopsis. The synopsis is easily the most hated piece of writing that any novelist ever does. But you have to write a synopsis.
Here’s the secret: When you write a synopsis, each paragraph should summarize a sequence of scenes. If you try to summarize each scene, that’s too much detail. Summarize several scenes together as a single unit. If you do that, your synposis will come out to about 2 single-spaced pages which is just about right. If you don’t do that, you’re going to hate your synopsis. (Okay, you’re going to hate your synopsis no matter what you do, but if you do it this way, you’ll get a good result, which is all that matters.)
You gotta love Randy’s humor – and his attention to detail with the craft of writing.