Sunday, June 6, 2010

Synopses Are The Devil. And Other Thoughts.

I've wondered if the story is too complicated (which it probably is--soul swapping plus past "it's complicated" relationship plus family discord plus dead parents who killed themselves...).

I think about the books I like. Atonement, my favorite book, is not exactly a walk in the park. It's painful and hard to read in parts and the twist at the end puts everything into perspective--but it can be boiled down to "In 1935 England, 13-year-old Briony sees her sister take off her clothes outside in front of the housekeeper's son Robbie. Not understanding adult emotions and having an overactive imagination, Briony later accuses Robbie of raping her cousin, sending the innocent man to jail, then the army, where he marches across France toward Dunkirk. From that moment in 1935 on, Briony writes and rewrites the events, striving to understand what happened and to atone for how she ruined Robbie and her sister Cecilia's life."

Then there's The Lovely Bones. 14-year-old girl is murdered. Girl can look down on Earth at her grieving family, her growing friends, and her murderer.

Persuasion: Anne Elliot was convinced that her fiance, Frederick Wentworth, was not suitable enough for her. Years later, as the Elliots come down in the world, Frederick has risen in the Royal Navy, becoming wealthy."

I love all of these books because of the emotional content and the descriptions and characters and setting. But, as you know, I also love historical romance novels and historical fiction, which have that added complication of evoking the time and place and having the characters either deliberately behave in a more modern way to make them more palatable to a modern audience. And I also adore Harry Potter for the ideas of destiny and self-fulfilling prophecies and the world building that it took to make 7 books link up so well. Then there's Lord of the Rings, for the rich history and creatures and immense world and background that Tolkien created.

Perhaps I'm just manuscript-weary (I really can't read it anymore and haven't for almost a week) or maybe the honeymoon is over and it's time to get to work on it, but there are big things that are irritating me about the book and the synopsis.

Synopses are short and they only cover the main story lines and the main characters, so prioritizing becomes a big deal. And frankly, Brix and Jade's relationship isn't as important as Eva and Brix's. Plus, add on to that that you don't have space to write a synopsis descriptively, character motivation has to come across in one line and the main characters have to roll out quickly...and you can probably see why I hate writing these suckers.

Here's what I see as the main plotlines (you can ignore this--it's just me writing it out to lay it out for myself):

Eva and Jade are switched. Eva is the "active" one and must figure out the why's of their situation. This causes reflection, a search for answers, acceptance of new concepts, and forgiving of the past.

Eva's uncertainty in the above situation reflects her attitude toward a long-term romantic relationship with her best friend, Brixton, though the two have grown up together and have seen each other through some truly heinous times.

Jade is in Eva's body, listening to everything everyone says about her and is indecisive about almost everything, except her hatred of Eva.


Of course, if I take out the swapping part, then it leaves me with Eva in a coma in her own body, perhaps as an omniscient type of narrator (similar to Susie Salmon in Lovely Bones), Jade has suffered a concussion and is still in a state of utter indecision about her life. I'd still have all the history of Eva and Brix, take out the fantasy paranormal bits (which are becoming so ubiquitous that the market is becoming saturated by it anyway). Then, the problem becomes that the interactions would have to be more tense and emotional--they're already pretty much there anyway--but it would be more traditional love-triangle-ish, I suppose. I've never seen this as a love triangle--Jade does not compare to Eva for Brix--but I suppose it can be seen that way.

Now, if I leave the paranormal in (which has been bothering me for a while--and if it's bothering me, then something needs to be done about it before I start sending the sucker out for queries), but take out the flashbacks...nah. I mean, yeah, I can hint about Brix and Eva's past, but it's more impactful to see it.

I can take out the dead mother bits--she's not in there much anyway--or the dead father bits, which leaves me looking for another catalyst for Brix's year or so of sluthood.

Or I tighten up the paranormal. I've done some of that anyhow, since I had my mini-epiphanies with astral projection and negative capability, and it would take the least amount of work, but I'm not sure it'll serve the story or the characters. Because let's be real here, I'm not exactly taking a stance on anything like this. I believe in reincarnation and therefore, I think this kind of thing might be possible, but not being a hardcore believer, I'm not sure I'm doing it justice and I don't know that it's reading as credible.

Or I can go back to the original concept of this story, which had Brix massively ill, but doesn't want anyone to tell Eva, who is still his best friend and mother of his child. It basically dealt with them getting their shit together and committing.

Must mull over what's best for the story here. Truth is, I'm not sure and everyone has a million opinions and answers. Crossroads, really, because if I'm going to rewrite it completely, this is the time to do it and it won't take terribly long, since the bloody thing is actually finished. Of course, the lazy side is going "stick with what you have! don't rewrite it all!" but the anal writer side is going, "It's not ship-shape yet. Keep working it 'til it is because otherwise, when you query, it's going to be summarily rejected and you'll know that you could've fixed it beforehand and you didn't, you lazy bitch!"

At least I have the synopsis for my next story written--I'm working on characters and outlining now, as well as gathering sources since it's an historical. Dissolution of the Monasteries. Son of a priest and nun. Don't ask.

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