Synopsis vs Outline

Writing the story is the fun part. All the rest can come later.

However, the time has come for later – and I find I really hate this synopsis. I hate the outline, too, but I can’t argue with them being valuable tools at some stage.

I wrote this novel draft piece by piece, knowing only what came a little farther ahead and where I wanted to the end. That means I kept writing until I got to the end, realized that I needed a little more wrap-up and I fixed that. Except I’m still not done.

Now’s where it gets tricky. I have an outline. It follows each chapter and the events that happen. Through the rewrite it is not completely up to date but it’s manageable. I keep making notes on where to change it and it’s slowly coming out in the novel rewrite. It’s also about three pages single-spaced, and growing, and too long for my word count to be directly funneled into a synopsis.

I took it to a writing conference some time ago, so I already wrote the synopsis. It handles only the major plot points from the beginning to the end and stands by itself at less than two pages double-spaced. All major characters, including the cat, are mentioned and show movement throughout.

The current issue between the two of them is that they’re not in agreement. Not completely. Sure, I can find every single point from the synopsis in the outline, but they’re not exactly in order. Is that a problem? I’m not sure, but it makes me want to rethink and reorganize both of them until they’re more in agreement.

That sort of brings me to the point where I’m at war with both of them. It’s ugly and it’s bloody (because I’m using a red pen, of course), and it’s only going to get worse when I scrap them both and start revisions on the manuscript with the pieces. I know it will work out eventually, but I hate this stage a little bit. I want to know if I have all my plot points nailed and if the book is saying what I want it to say: synopsis. However, I also need to keep the rest of it flowing well and honing in on the goal with the character development and the other events that foreshadow the big pieces: outline.

Send supplies in the form of finger foods and an energetic nanny. It wouldn’t hurt to clone me. Then one could go to my jobs and play with my toddler while the other one huddled in solitary and simply finished the stories. Wait – let’s make two clones. That toddler business is full-time.

And on to the next outline challenge!

Why? I finished my 15-20 word outline for Don’t Tell Your Mother. It turned out as 18 words and focuses my intent more.

It also changes my draft quite a bit now that I’m getting into the third. (I think it’s the third draft. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track.)

It’s in a good way, though. I had been trying to get there, but something kept stopping me. I’ve been having issues putting my inciting incident into a short bit of words. A phone call took me to the heart of it.

I love how the brain swirls into something you’d forgotten you were thinking about. Perhaps that’s just me.

So with my new, short outline, I will be fixing my longer synopsis. Then I’ll be ready to dig into Chapter 3 and beyond!

Of course, Chapter 2 needs a few more shades to get there. Maybe I ought to start there first.

I think I’ll decide after I fix the synopsis. Priorities, y’know.

Not too long after that I will be able to figure out what to do with those two short outlines I also finished for yesterday. Both have working titles and one has a strong main character who has made herself known.

I can’t hide from them forever.

Digging Into Plot

Yesterday I pulled out my synopsis and I started making notes. Finally!

I’m really glad I wrote the synopsis now. It makes it easier to figure out where to change things. My notes are in dark blue, littering the typed pages.

Today I think I’ll add green or purple, whichever I can find first. I like adding a different color to show different kinds of work, and today I’ll be making a new line for the plot. It might take two or three times to get where I need to go and changing colors in the notes helps me see which direction I’m going.

As opposed to all black and white- then I’ll forever be scratching things out that don’t work.

Makes me think I should’ve done all this work before I wrote the book, but I didn’t develop the synopsis first.

Why¬†oh why didn’t I do the synopsis first?

Well, I suppose I haven’t yet outlined a book before I’ve written it. The Art of Science might have been the exception because I had a chapter guide before I wrote it – but that one changed away from the outline version completely, too.

Do any of those writing books out there mention the people who have to write the rough draft before being able to look at the plot structure and make it better? I wonder if I might be one of those people.