Good freezing morning to you today! Not only is it one of the coldest mornings of the year so far (outdoor thermometer says it's zero right about now), but my thermostat continues to prove that it needs to be replaced: for the third time in four nights, it failed to tell the boiler that heat was needed, and it's really freaking cold right now! Good news? It must have worked at least partway through the night, because it was 'only' in the mid fifties in the house when I got up. Still, that's too freakin' cold. The thermostat is one of those old, mechanical types with a coil and a mercury switch. I see a digital upgrade in my short-term future.
Around this time each year, Agent Carrie schedules calls with all of her clients to plot and plan for the upcoming year. It's a chance to set goals, discuss how things are working, and map out where we want to go and how we're going to get there. My call was yesterday afternoon. Through the magic of cell phone technology, I left my family in a supermarket and sat in the car while we talked. Best thing of all? When our conference was done, I stepped out of the car and saw my wife pushing a laden cart across the parking lot to me--we were done! Timing is everything!
Carrie and I last spoke in mid-September, when we discussed the editorial feedback and "near miss" of the novel I'd last completed. At that time, I mentioned my new project, something I'd started working on over the summer while on submission. Her reaction was...cautious. She expressed concern that it didn't sound like what I typically write. Admittedly, my poor description of it probably made it sound a bit like an action flick, which is definitely not my style, but I also don't talk about my writing as well as I write about it! I did understand where she was coming from, however, and when I went back to the WiP while avoiding the RiP, I made some changes based on what Carrie had put in my mind. I then abandoned the WiP during NaNo month in favor of the RiP, which I finally sent back to Carrie in early December.
In the last two weeks, I made substantial progress on the WiP. On Saturday morning, prior to a pre-Christmas cleaning binge, I added nearly 2000 words on to the end, and found myself happy with the progress. I have a little over 200 pages, almost 65,000 words down, and the full sense of what happens. Which brings me to yesterday's conversation with Carrie. On Saturday afternoon, after the pre-Christmas cleaning binge, I decided I wanted to send Carrie a synopsis of the WiP in advance of our conference. This way, she'd really understand the WiP in the likely event I garbled my way through the conversation. So I started the synopsis.
If you're an author, you've probably dealt with the synopsis. This is something many agents and editors ask for, where you condense your 100,000 word opus into three to five pages--or, worse yet, one page. It typically includes mentions of all the MAJOR CHARACTERS, all the major plot events, and the ending. It's something that causes as much angst for writers as a pitch letter, maybe more: if you're not an author, it's hard to write these things, trust me. At any rate, I got to a point on Saturday evening where I liked my synopsis, then touched it up again on Sunday morning and sent it out. I'll admit, I broke some rules: my synopsis is not a one page quickie, it's three pages. And I didn't mention all the characters, and I didn't put them in ALL CAPS. I'm daring. A maverick. A rule breaker. But it worked. When I talked to Carrie later, she seemed really excited about the project, and didn't express the same sort of reservations she had raised when we first talked about the project. Score for me!
It also helped me, however. If you've been reading this space at all, you know I'm a dedicated Wingman, a Discovery Writer, a man who hates the concept of outlining. Yet, the synopsis is, in fact, something of an outline. It lays out the major events of the plot, and in summarizing the plot, it's possible to see where some of the holes might be. Since I haven't read over this manuscript from start to finish (and trust me, this one is a hot mess in many ways) yet, I was running largely off of memory, and what I thought should happen. There are a couple of spots where the synopsis comes across as a mumble, the literary equivalent of "la la la'ing" your way through the line of a song when you're not quite sure how it goes.
10 Beatles Classics You Kind Of Know The Words To by jeremeey
This synopsis, or "after the fact outline," has helped me see where I need to beef things up, expand on things, fill in the details. I'm not ready to call myself an outliner, not by a longshot, but I certainly can see where outlining in the middle of things can help bring it all home.
That's it for me for this week. I hope you all have yourselves a beautiful holiday. See you next time!