This is a good read, if only because it's a lot of information from a lot of authors, and you're bound to find one or two nuggets of educational gold.

The following tip is great for me, since I've been sending out a lot of queries recently, and in each case, they expect something a little different: A summary; a synopsis (very short, 1-pager, 2-pager, or 10-pager); a blurb; a logline; the first chapter; the first x pages; etc. This is much easier to do if you begin with a summary, or a simple sentence which defines the novel. You expand the sentence to a paragraph, then expand the paragraph to a page, then to two pages, and so on. Before you know it, you've got yourself an outline, and can seal up most plotholes from the very outset.

Keep a summary of your novel as you write it. Different from the outline-if you work from one, or even if you don't-the summary is the actual shape the story takes as it goes onto the page. I keep a note not only of the plot as it unfolds, but how much time goes by, if it's raining, if any of the characters are carrying injuries, or if I'm laying in a plot thread I need to remember to pick up later. I do a paragraph for each scene break or chapter, and also jot down if there's a time gap between scenes/chapters. When you come to the editing stage, any major alterations-adding a subplot, removing an extraneous character, etc.-can be worked out on the summary rather than having to work with the whole typescript, which can be very unwieldy by that stage.


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