Of course, one does write synopses. But in my case, I write ’em when my agent or editor asks for them — and I write them *after* I’ve written the book. And yet now I have actually written a synopsis for THE WHITE ROAD OF THE MOON, which is the book due to RH in September — and what I have for it is
a) The first 100 pages
b) The climactic scenes, more or less
c) Two or three scenes I really want to hit in between.
Therefore the point of writing the synopsis — which is like a present-tense paragraph-style outline of major events, in this case about four pages long — is to get some general notion of how to get from (a) through (c) to (b) so that it will be easier to work on this manuscript.
How true to the final story will this synopsis wind up? I have no idea. I certainly am not wedded to it. Anything could happen! Except I will by God get to those climactic scenes somehow, because I’m not giving them up.
I also have a map! We will not visit every piece of it, not by a long shot, but at least I know what is where and that Our Protagonist is at the moment heading north. Very useful to know whether the sun ought to come up in the mornings on her right or left, you understand. Also, I shouldn’t have to pause and agonize over the names of roads and rivers and towns. At least not very often. Gotta work out the map.
I have the backstory, too. I’ve had that for a while. Don’t worry, no infodumpy prologue that lays out the backstory, because I hate that, but important events have consequences that echo forward into the present; the whole plot depends on what happened two or four hundred years ago (not sure how long it’s been since the big, dramatic events of the backstory. Almost living memory? Long enough ago that it’s remembered as myth? I’ll have to decide eventually, but not yet.)
I’ve worked out the metaphysics of the world, more or less. Ghosts and Gods. Witches, who can see and speak to and bind ghosts. Blue priests and white priests.
I have a dog in this story. Is that the first time I’ve put a dog in a book? I think it is. Not a sweet beautiful lapdog, though: a big guy, more like an Irish Wolfhound. For my next trick: making sure the dog is a dog and not a Special Magical Robot Companion. No telepathic animals! No perfectly obedient robot slave animals that always do what you want and have no personality of their own! No no no! I hate that.
I need to come up with something for several of the secondary characters. They have to have more of a role than Sidekick To Protagonist, or out they go! That’s part of why I wrote a synopsis. I have some glimmerings of ideas now about what to do with them to make them important and interesting. They’ll develop more later — we haven’t even met a couple of them yet.
You know what this makes me think of? The early part of The Griffin Mage II (SANDS), where I commented to somebody (my agent?) that if I couldn’t find a role for Tehre to play other than Love Interest, I would write her out of the story. Honestly, I had no idea what she was going to be like till she walked on stage and opened her mouth and said some cool thing about materials science. (Later I went back and established that aspect of her earlier in the book, but that came later.)
So that’s what I’ve been working on lately.
Also! I’m finally re-reading RANGE OF GHOSTS by Elizabeth Bear. So good! Such beautiful writing! Such great world design! Next up: the other two books in the trilogy, which I’ve had since each came out and finally get to read.