Before you all jump into NaNoWriMo in November, you might consider putting together a synopsis for your story this month.
I will say upfront that synopsis-writing is probably the most dreaded job requirement of the professional writer. Condensing one hundred thousand words into ten or fifteen pages of concise paragraphs for an editor is a bit like trying to count then describe the freckles on a redhead to a blind person only willing to listen to you for five minutes max. But if synopses were easy and fun, we'd write them instead of novels.
With all due respect to the organic writers out there, I advocate writing the synopsis before writing one word of the novel. For me, it organizes my thoughts and reassures me on a couple of levels. I know if I can write an effective synopsis, I know the story inside and out. The folks in NY may not like synopses any more than writers do, but the standard book proposal remains a synopsis and the first three chapters (although once you've established yourself as a professional, editors are usually okay with just a synopsis.)
One of my oldest tricks to make synopsis-writing a little more palatable is to write one for another author's book that I love or have read many times. I also use synopses for nailing down annoying/lengthy story ideas that won't get out of my head. It helps get the pesky stuff that I don't have time to write out of my head, and I always feel good dropping a full synopsis into the idea file.
Some links to check out:
Charlotte Dillon's Writing a Synopsis page has tips, samples and about fifty links to other synopsis-writing resources on the internet.
This article on Pam McCutcheon's how-to, Writing the Fiction Synopsis: A Step-by-Step Approach, shows completed examples of her prelimnary worksheets from the book.
Down at the bottom of this article on synopsis writing from Where the Map Ends is an interesting five-paragraph formula for writing a very short synopsis (spiritual warfare, I like that phrase.)
PBW posts opn synopses: Synful Trio, John and Marcia tackle The Synopsis, and Novel Synopsis-o-Rama. I also wrote this workshop article on writing a synopsis a few years back, and it's still the way I write them today.
Anyone have any questions, suggestions or problems with synopses? Post them in comments.