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How to Write a Novel in Six Months, Week 8, Writing the Synopsis
I'm so excited to write this because writing the preliminary synopsis for my novel has made this my favorite week so far! Maybe it's just because I've been writing actually sentences on formatted pages in Word instead of fragments in Excel cells. It's been great fun fleshing out scenes and, in the process, coming up with even more ideas and character traits. Most of all, writing the synopsis has really boosted my confidence that - yes, I can do it!
Aren't You Supposed to Write the Synopsis at the End?
Your synopsis is a powerful tool to sell your completed novel, and it won't really be complete until you're finished. However, there are some good reasons to take a first pass at it before you start to write your first scene.
Writing the synopsis helps you identify holes in the plot in a way that's different from writing the outline. At least that's how it worked for me. As the juices started to flow I came up with better ideas for actions and characterization. Writing a very condensed version of the whole story activated my gut feeling about what flowed and what was out of whack.
The other main reason I wrote my synopsis up front was that I'm working with a critique group. The synopsis makes a very nice document to share. I know my group will point out my weak areas and provide invaluable insight. The synopsis facilitates that process.
The Mechanics of the Synopsis
- Written in present tense
- 1 page of synopsis per 25 pages of novel, double spaced
- Told in chronological order, leaving out nothing - not even your precious surprise ending
- Write tight and include your characters' emotional motivations
- Punch it up in the last act with shorter sentences and more active language
Eventually your synopsis is going to be the primary tool that sells you novel. According to Marshall, your first novel is the only one you should ever have to write in full before selling it. Isn't that amazing? Think about it - you put all this effort into writing your novel, writing a great synopsis is the first step in making sure that work pays off. Of course you'll need to change things as you write. That's okay. It's not a reason to forego writing your first draft now.
Once I'm finished with my novel, I'll go back and polish, polish, polish! And by the time I send that sucker off, guess what I'll be doing? Working on the next one!
Week 8, Writing the Synopsis
Weeks 9 - 18, Drafting Updates
Week 19, Sanity Break
Week 20, Transitions
Week 21, Reading the Draft
Weeks 22 - 24 First Revision