I have been writing a synopsis of my latest novel. This exercise, undertaken only once the novel had reached a stalemate, has been strategically planned to enable me to see what the heck is going on.
This novel was started under the banner of NaNoWriMNo. It grew to well over 50,000 words in 30 days. It spoke, it breathed, it fairly flew off my fingers and onto the screen as I typed. It made sense, well, no, actually it didn’t make all that much sense but it had lots of hooks and notes in the margins and helpful inserts/guides for me to follow when, released from the pressure of that daily word count, I was free to take it up and cajole it into shape.
I enjoyed writing it, it must be said. On November 1st (my birthday) I sat down and pulled the germ of an idea from my brain. I began to write. The experience was amazing. Family left me alone, my mind conjured up characters and I only had to watch as they led me into their lives. I knew them so well but they still surprised me. I had to remember that there was some work still required from me.
Funny how one can be so enthused over a piece and then find oneself lost in a sea of self-doubt. I began to wonder if I should start again. I liked so much of what I had written but where was it taking me? I was seriously considering scrapping it and concentrating on my other works in progress (oh yes, there are a few) but I was loathe to give up so, I put it aside for a few weeks.
I wrote a short story, sent that off to a magazine (am still awaiting sale or rejection). I wrote a few blog posts, walked the dogs, had mother-in-law to stay for a fortnight, youngest daughter and children for a week. I caught a virus, laid low for a while and then, today, I decided to tackle this festering pile of words that niggle away at me, once and for all.
As always, I began to read through, I checked my notes…then I stopped. Like a bolt from the blue, it came to me what this novel lacks – a synopsis.
I have never been one to plan before I write really (ask my English teacher should she still be around) but I do normally plan and edit as I go, to some extent. The NaNoWriMo experience had not allowed me to do this (notes in margins may work for some but not for me). It was suddenly obvious to me what I had to do – write a synopsis. I was not concerned with how I wrote it other than that it should describe the plot, its characters and the order of events. I kept a copy of the incomplete novel by my side (on screen) as I wrote and gradually, pulled together the gaping holes that I noticed in the plot. Why did that character do that? Does it impact on the plot in any way at all? Can I lose him/her with no detriment to the story? Several characters fell by the wayside as I considered their merit.
The experience encountered by one Hollie Robinson http://goo.gl/aMbYs from the Huffington Post (I googled this – great article) rang true. There were gaping holes in my sub story and a good few in the main plot too. My characters were full of life but they seemed to be running round in circles that never quite met up. As I read, I could see where my mind had been heading at the time but it was also clear that I had never actually arrived.
Yet, all is not lost. This synopsis, as it takes shape, promises to show me the way. I am empowered by the ability to rewrite history. I had better get back to it lest it take over and become the beginnings of a second novel itself.
I will let you know if this novel ever makes it out of its box but armed with my new knowledge, I think it stands a fighting chance.