Damn. That would appear to be the end of the Japanese bobtail coffee cup gave me some years ago. It’s the second time the handle’s broken, and this time little shards went everywhere, suggesting that re-gluing it would only prolong the inevitable for not very long at all. Sniffle. I was very fond of that cup.

I decided I needed to start exercising first thing when I got up in the morning, or I wouldn’t do it at all, so I got up today and took the dog on a 3+ mile walk. Poor Chanti is exhausted. :)

Writing goal today is to write the TRUTHSEEKER synopsis. I’ve gotten a chunk of it done and am now somewhat stymied by not knowing what happens next. I paused to clean the kitchen and make lunch, which gave me time to think up one conflict/problem, but I haven’t figured out how to deal with 1. the consequences of that, nor 2. the, er, plot that has to go along with those consequences. That sounds like they’re the same thing, but they’re not. :)

One of the questions I get fairly often is along the lines of, “Do you write a synopsis/outline before you write the book? Should I?”

I wrote my first (pauses to count) 5 books, and also the 7th, without synopses or outlines (the 6th I submitted before it was done, so I needed one). Synopses were hard (still are), and I was convinced I’d lose the joy of telling the story if I already knew what happened. That worked, for several books. It’s entirely possible it would continue to work, if I were to do it now.

However, these days I’m selling mostly on spec, which means I have to have a synopsis whether I like it or not. My agent and editor have to know there’s at least a glimmer of an idea of how the story middles and ends, preferably without the “and then a miracle occurs” taking place between those things.

What I’ve discovered is that for me personally, it’s actually something of a relief to have a synopsis. I wrote THUNDERBIRD FALLS without one and in retrospect believe it would’ve been far easier to write with one, though I think it all worked out in the end. :) A synopsis gives me something to go look at when I get stuck. It gives me something to say, “Oh, hey, that’s a good idea, I can try to get there!” or, “Oh, that’s where I wanted to go; okay, how do I get there?” to. It also means if I don’t keep the synopsis open while I’m writing, I often go back at the end and think, “Shit! That was a really good idea, and I didn’t use it! Can I make it work now?” (Often the answer is no.)

The only time I’ve had a synopsis go desperately astray was with THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, which didn’t so much go wrong as covered too much material. That synopsis’s final third will end up being the first third-to-half of the second book, which my editor okayed, so it’ll all work out. Generally, though, I find that synopses don’t kill my desire to write the book, because I still don’t know all the details, and even if I do know some details, I don’t *really* know how the story gets there, so it’s still an adventure in finding out.

So for me, much as I hate writing synopses, they’re very useful. YMMV, and I refuse to tell people whether they should or should not write them, ’cause what works for me won’t necessarily work for everybody. :)

Hm. Would people be interested in seeing a couple of synopses from books that are already published?

miles to Dunharrow: 36


  1. miladyinsanity

    I’d love to see a syn.

    I’m thinking of answering a submissions call, and even though I need to turn in the entire manuscript (novella), I still need a syn. I’ve not written one before–or even a query letter, because I’ve not finished a novel yet.

    And hugs on the cup. I’d be very sad to lose my chocolate cup–it’s practically the only cup I use at home–like that.

  2. mizkit


    Really? Synopses are easy for you? Do you just have an insanely clear idea of where the story is going before you sit down to write one, or is there some Sekrit Trick you’ve learned?

  3. mizkit

    I have a hard enough time drinking water out of coffee mugs (I don’t drink coffee) with a handle. Something about the shape of the cup lip. I suspect I would pour water down my shirt even more often if I did that! Although I’m a little tempted anyway, ’cause I do love that mug. hm. I wonder if I’ve thrown anything nasty away on top of it…

  4. dancinghorse

    Nah, I just like Plotting Evilly. If I could make a living writing synopses, I’d be happy. (Bear in mind I also have a mutant superpower for writing test passages, i.e. any topic, any genre, to stranglingly strict specs, usually extremely short, on short deadlines–often a 24-hour turnaround. Synopses are just another version of this really.)

    If there is a Sekrit Trick, it’s that I don’t stress over whether the book will follow the synopsis exactly. Hit the high points, fly past the in-betweens, tell it in clear and specific language, and you can’t go too far wrong.

    The one thing you really need to write a good synopsis is a clear sense of the internal logic of the book. You don’t need to know every stop on the road to Mordor, but you have to know what the book has to do, namely get from the Shire to Moint Doom for a specific purpose (throw the ring in the fire). If you set up plot points, make sure they’re internally consistent and are well supported by the rest of your synopsis. Plot points have to flow out of one another. If you lob random points, or if your points don’t make sufficient sense as a whole, the editor will lob the whole thing back and tell you to start over.

    Maybe what it is is the ability to see the story as a whole, so even when the details are fluid, the overall arc is clear? It’s the arc you want to show. You can always take detours, loiter with Bombadil, whatever, as long as your synopsis keeps its eye on the main line of the story.

  5. logrusboy

    I usually use such vessels for keeping office supplies organized on the desk. That way I still get to enjoy using them even if I’m perverting the intended purpose. Using the creator’s invention for a purpose it wasn’t intended…hm…kinda like fanfic, only, you know, ceramic.

  6. veilofgrace

    Ooooooh. The Forbidden Bought Synopsis! I would be most interested in studying such a strange and unusual artifact. I promise not too get too many fingerprints on it. :D

  7. shadowhwk

    Synopses are odd beasties for me. Most of the time, I would rather pull my own teeth than write one. Occasionally, I get one that pretty much writes itself. I am merely the typist.

    I like those. It’s only happened twice.

  8. mnarra

    Hm. Would people be interested in seeing a couple of synopses from books that are already published?

    Yes! Yesyesyesyesyes. Please. Preferably for a book in print, so I can look at both and see the relationships between them.

  9. mnarra

    You are a treasure beyond words, and you’ve just won enormous karma-points, redeemable for backrubs and snugglies.

    I go now to register, because I’m just that silly.

  10. robinowenswrite


    We usually have a plotting session — 3 or 4 of us (Story Magic idea), and then the writing must begin.

    As you know I spent WAY too much time fiddling with the next three Luna synopses. I’d do one, critique group would say something, I’d fiddle some more.

    I know FF&P has synopses in their files section, but you have to be a member of RWA and FF&P (FF&P dues are truly minimal).

    I sold everything except HeartMate on synopsis, so I could post them on my blog, too (either the pitiful Live Journal or my daily blogspot one). If folks tell me what they want, and we could have a cross pollenization going…

    As with you, my synopsis for Protector of the Flight was too large, and the second half of the middle (if that makes sense) did not get done, which made me worry, but nobody cared.

    I use my broken cups for 1) pen holders, 2) small herb pots.


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