History That Never Was

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Finding Plot Holes with a Synopsis

Writing with a fountain penOne of the things that I realized when I was working on the synopsis for my novel was that it’s a fantastic way to find all of those plot holes that still exist in your manuscript. When you have to break down all of the things that happen in the novel, you realize where you’ve left plot threads hanging, where something never got explained, and even when you have the same day of the week happen twice (oops).

In some ways, this suggests that having a synopsis in mind when you’re writing could help you avoid some of these pitfalls, but I feel like that might also stifle any new ideas that come up during the writing. But it could be helpful if you’re part of the way through a book that you feel like you’re floundering with, if you write a synopsis of what’s happened thus far and then work out what needs to happen in order to reach the ending you want. In this way, a synopsis could be an after-the-fact outline for pantsers. But it can also help plotters who may have discovered a problem with their original outline once they started writing. So there’s a lot of utility to working with a synopsis, even before you’re getting ready to send your manuscript to agents.

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