There's an old saying...well, there are a lot of old sayings, but this one, credited to Alphonse Karr, says, "The more things change, the more they are the same." This is also a life lesson, of course, but I've been noticing it the past few weeks in writing.
With my publisher, I submit and sell (or don't) on proposal. I send the first three chapters and a not-great synopsis for the editor's approval if I'm under contract or purchase if I'm not. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but if it doesn't, I'm not sitting here with an entire manuscript written and nothing certain to do with it. It's...yeah, it's a good idea.
A month or so ago, I finished my last book. I sent it off to the editor, intended to give myself a week off--it hasn't happened yet--and got to thinking about the next story. This thinking was forced by my driving past the apple orchard. And then I started writing, just to sort of see how it would go.
This is what happens to me too often when I try to tell the story before I write it. The ideas are good, the conflict workable. I can do it. But I have lost the spontaneity. If the deer bound out of the yard, I still need to write about them as if they are still there with their ears perked, watching their young frolicking (Kristi's word) around on too-long legs. Yes, I can do it, but some of the fun is gone.
Will I write this whole book before writing its synopsis? Probably not--I'm on deadline and there isn't time. And, no, in truth I wouldn't want to go back to not submitting until I had a finished manuscript in hand. The synopsis is easier to write on a finished product, and actually tells the story of the book instead of what I think the book might possibly be. Maybe. But it all takes a lot more time and I just might end up with another manuscript under the bed. This is, I admit, a good thing for indie-publishing (no need for the under-the-bed-file)--not so good for a writer who still prefers trad.
It's fun, though, in the daily-changing world of publishing to do it the way I used to, when I followed the story to the office every morning to see where it would take me. When I wrote about the deer in the yard while their presence was still making me smile, making my heart beat a little faster.
So, as Nan says, discuss. What's your chosen method when it comes to building a book?
Have a great week!