Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The plot thickens...

I wrote my first novel over 20 years ago. For some reason, it was never published. Okay, I do know the reason. It was pretty awful. But it's taken me this long to realize how to fix it. Not that I'll try. It would be too painful to read it and face the fact I had actually sent it to a publisher.

I'm indebted to Berkley Prime Crime, the publisher who is taking a chance on me, for their policy of requiring a synopsis as I begin each new book. Novel idea. I
used to sit myself at the typewriter, and then the computer, and just write. Almost a stream of consciousness. And what could have been a snappy mystery became a long-winded, meandering plot that eventually ended with the bad guy getting caught. I started knowing the beginning and the end but got hopelessly lost in between those points.

This system works for a lot of great writers. Just not for me. Now, I know the start, middle and end of my novel before I get down to seriously writing it. If I get a bit lost along the way, or worse yet, face a blank page and not know what to write on it, I re-read my synopsis. That gets me back on track.

The other positive thing about a synopsis is, it's not written in stone. It's on the computer. Paragraphs can be deleted, new ones added. The novel can still evolve from itself as the writing goes on. In fact, I've added new characters, changed a plot twist, and thrown a dog into the mix. And the plot has stayed on track.

It also gives me confidence each time I open the files and prepare to add my thousand words a day.

What works best for you?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April 3, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

1 comment:

  1. I always have a synopsis, too - but just as you say, Linda, not written in stone. Sometimes almost the entire synopsis gets redone along the way, but most often it does serve a great purpose in yanking me back on track. I do find it helpful, though, to have it as a recipe, to which I can add some spice or remove some fattening ingredient, but still end up with the edible product I'd intended to make.
    Cathy Astolfo