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Writing Tip: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Jul 14, 2015 5:15:30 AM

When you first begin working on a book, it's easy to go back and read from the beginning to refresh your memory about key plot points, timelines, character insights, etc. The deeper you get into the writing process, however, the more unwieldy and time-consuming it becomes to read the entire thing. To avoid getting derailed by that habit, I suggest creating a chapter-by-chapter synopsis that you update as you progress. That way you can quickly reference the synopsis as needed instead of spending valuable writing time searching through your manuscript.


To give you an example, here are some snippets from the synopsis I wrote for my novel Wait for the Rain, which came out earlier this year:


Chapter 1- winter Sunday

Daphne is at her house in Columbus waiting for her neighbor, Carol, to take her to the airport for a week trip to St. Mirika to celebrate her 40th birthday with her two best friends from college. We learn that Daphne's ex-husband Brian has recently moved in with his girlfriend, and that the two of them are taking Daphne's 15-year-old daughter Emma skiing for spring break.


Chapter 2- Sunday

On the way to the airport Daphne tells Carol about her friends. Skylar is a successful sales executive in NYC, and KC lives with her husband in Southern California. We learn that Daphne started at the same company as Skylar years ago but quit to get married and have Emma. We also learn that she hasn't seen her friends in years and is anxious about what they will think of her now.


As you can see, the synopsis doesn't have to be pretty, but jotting down the basics will help keep you focused on moving the story forward, which is critical if you want to finish that elusive first draft.


-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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2,734 Views Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, synopsis, writing_tip, first_draft

Jul 15, 2015 10:59 AM BobB70    says:

Hi Maria. I love your suggestion. If I may, I'd like to add a couple of things that authors might want to add to the synopsis.


First up is character names. In my books I have a lot of characters coming and going and keeping track of what names I've used gets to be a task. Especially if I bring one back 20 chapters or even a sequel later. So, keep a list of who's who and what you named them. (Also, that you promised to bring them back. See next item.)


Second. There is nothing worse than an author saying someone will do something and then they never do. So if you promised to send alice flowers in one chapter, make a note of it so you can send them to her in another.


Third, make note if you terminate or injur someone. Again, you don't want to have Harry who lost the lower part of both legs doing the Irish Jig  two chapters later.


I know some of this sounds lame but it's easy to lose track of simple things. Unless your a reader where nothing escapes them! Thanks again for the great suggestion.