Yes, you can still support me (or anybody else) in the Clarion West 2013 Write-a-thon. If you support me, I will give you a cookie! Well, not actually a cookie. You get a book that I wrote for Nanowrimo in 2008, plus groovy illustrations. Personally, I would rather get a book than a cookie, but it is entirely possible that I am a freak. And now I’m sad, because I imagine your little faces lighting up at the possibility of a cookie, and then I told you it was going to be a book instead, and you’re all disappointed. In fact, this is all so cruel, I should probably delete it. But I won’t.
Never listen to me.
Anyway, the thing that I have been working on for the past several weeks of the Write-a-thon is: synopses!
A synopsis is something that people expect you to be able to write, if you have a novel to sell. I discovered this after writing a novel and sort of maybe a little bit trying to sell it. But the process was ghastly beyond belief. It seemed impossible to explain what the novel was about in any way that didn’t make all the events sound boring and stupid. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to write 100,000 words, compared to how hard it was to write five pages about those 100,000 words.
The current book gave me the usual fits when I tried to write a synopsis for the original completed draft. But when I wrote the most recent draft, I wrote the synopsis first. I did it that way just to get a sense for whether it would work as a YA novel, and loved the new synopsis so much that I had to write that version of the book.
Even though I’m a natural “pantser” [The Great Debate: Are you a planner or a pantser?] I found that I was able to use the synopsis as a foundation for the novel, even though I have always previously failed to write from an outline.
I think this is because I (perhaps mistakenly) thought outlining was mostly about mapping out the plot. But my synopsis was more about making sure the story hit the right emotional notes, and that it sounded like it would be fun to read. Sure, there’s plot involved, but it’s plot in service to the story. It’s not “this happens, then this happens, then this happens,” which is what my synopses always turned into when I tried to write them for finished work.
And, at the end of it, I felt I had a better novel, and a decent synopsis.
Now I’m a believer. I have vowed NEVER AGAIN to write a whole novel without a decent synopsis in hand.