NaNoWriMo 2017 Diary | Prep Week 4

I’ve written my synopsis!

I still don’t have a working title, and I keep wavering between whether my story counts as sci-fi or fantasy (I mean… everything in it is based on “science,” but none of it is remotely realistic, and in the end it comes down to “I dunno… maybe aliens? Magic?”), but I have a synopsis, and I really like it.

Last year was the first time I bothered writing a synopsis for NaNo. I’d just never seen the point before—I knew what my story was, I had a full outline, so a synopsis felt like another variation on the theme. And… yeah. It kind of is. But it’s still really helpful.

To be clear, I haven’t written what I’d consider a “proper” synopsis. This isn’t how I’d describe the story in a query letter. This is just for myself and the NaNo site, so I’ve written something closer to back-cover copy. It’s not about selling the story to an agent or publisher, it’s about selling the story to myself, convincing myself that this is something that could work as a novel.

In that context, writing a synopsis has turned out to be really valuable.

It’s forced me to think about my story in a different way. When I write the synopsis, it’s less about the plot or the characters—though they both come into play—and more about establishing the story world and the overall tone of the story. It’s a way to draw the reader in, and to tell them what they can expect from the story without giving too much away. It’s a way to draw myself in, and to keep myself focussed on how I want the story to feel, even when I’m struggling with what happens next.

And both last year and this year, writing the synopsis has clarified bits of the story that I hadn’t quite figured out or didn’t understand. Last year, the synopsis helped me figure out the antagonist’s motivation, and the conspiracy that was lurking under the whole story. This year, it’s made me realize that, whether the story is sci-fi or fantasy, at it’s heart, it’s a relatively straightforward thriller. I know more about my main character’s backstory. And, suddenly, I know exactly how it feels to live in the story world: how it looks, how it sounds, and the vague unease that comes with just stepping out onto the street in this world.

It’s so cool.

I’m still working on the scene breakdown, though I’m feeling better about that than I was before. I’m making progress, though I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m still taking some time to study craft, but I’m being a little more discerning about it—right now, I don’t care at all how other writers structure their stories. I know how I’m structuring this story, and that’s enough.

I’m starting to feel like I might actually be ready when November 1 rolls around.

If you’re a NaNo-er interested in reading my synopsis, I’ve added it to my profile. (Though, naturally, it’s still subject to change.) As always, I’m thrilled to get new writing buddies, so feel free to add me—and if you need some cheerleading or commiseration, say ‘hello’ via NaNo mail! As an experiment, I’m also going to start opening up comments on these diary posts… I’m not sure if it’ll last (I’m not a fan of comments in general), but we’ll see how it goes.

(Also: this week I discovered that the index cards I bought in preparation for outlining are unlined, which is annoying, but I’ll make do. And I’ve been struggling with another cold, but at least I’m not trying to prepare for Thanksgiving on top of everything else, so I’ve been able to dedicate my limited energy to NaNo prep. I guess that’s something.)

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