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 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 www.mariamurnane.com.