Writing a book isn’t a linear process in the sense that you get on the trail and go from point A to point B and then you’re done. It’s more like a switchback.
An even better description (one that will be recognized by all moms out there who played endless rounds of this with their preschoolers) might be that writing a book is like moving around a Chutes and Ladders board. Just when you think you’ve made it halfway to the end, you hit a ladder and have to climb back up a few levels.
So, while working on my synopsis for What a Witch! in the last few days, I realized that I was instinctively writing the synopsis in a different order than the scenes in the outline I’d just spent three days on. This was a clue that plot points were in the wrong places and needed to be fixed.
Today, I took my printed out scene outline and cut all the scenes apart. Clearly off my bed, I spread all the scenes out, reordering them in such a way that the pacing was better, that plot points landed where they needed to, etc.
For instance, the hero in WAW, a cop, doesn’t want to get involved with the heroine, not only because she dumped him when they were teens, not only because he once got involved with another woman involved in a crime and screwed up the job, but most importantly because he thinks the heroine may actually be guilty of something pretty terrible. Only the way I had it, he doesn’t come to this conclusion until long after he’s given in and slept with her.
I saw, when looking at things in a more visual way, that it would be far more effective if he was attracted to her, fighting his attraction, discovers she might be a criminal (so obviously he’s NOT going to risk his job by getting involved with her) and then be so completely in lust/love with her that he can’t help himself. Much more impact on him when he realizes the gravity of his “mistake” in letting her get to him.
This is just an example. But, as a result, I played with all the scenes, laying them out, reordering them, and then I made those changes in my scene outline document.
Next step, going back to the synopsis and maximizing the better pacing. The key is to keep rolling and moving around the board until I hit one of those “chutes” and slide straight to The End.