I had my one-to-one tutorial with Emily and she was happy to go through both synopses — although this made it quite frenetic as we only had ten minutes to cover both.
I was most surprised that she liked both synopses equally — both “had legs” she said.Â This wasÂ was interesting as I had thought one was a lot stronger than the other — or at least one was more developed to the extent of a lot of the synopsis actually having been written.
The most vivid synopsis was the one that was the newest, although it had plenty of flaws, such asÂ the lack of development of a potentially interesting character — Emma the status conscious girlfriend who gets the elbow somehow. This was also picked up by my friend Kathy (who’s doing an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University) who also kindly read through the synopsis.
I was aÂ bit worried that the pub setting of what is currently called ‘Pub Story’ would be thought of asÂ humdrum but Emily thought it potentially rich and entertaining.Â The newer synopsis also had an immediate ‘inciting incident’Â (the point at which the reader is invited into the story) that set the tone for the rest of the novel. The ‘Burying Bad News’ synopsis was much more confused as it wasÂ difficult to work out at whichÂ point the reader was going to be pulled in. This probably reflects the indecision that comes with having written substantial parts of this novel already — I’mÂ really not sure whether it should open chronologically orÂ in ‘media res’.Â
Both synopses failed in some of the most important aspects — they didn’t communicate effectively what I’d planned for the novel. One example was setting. I’d planned to use as settings a combination of London and the area around where I live (literally Midsomer Murder country — it’s filmedÂ all round here and people are surprised it’s not the West Country or Cotswolds but Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire in reality).Â The setting is obviously pretty vivid to me but I didn’t get this across at all in the synopsis — and clearly the setting is appealing in general or else Midsomer Murders,Â Morse, Rosemary and Thyme and all the rest of these dramas (loads of them) wouldn’t be filmedÂ round here.
SoÂ I think I’ve learned a lot about synopses and hope to work on the two to correct the flaws. I see it needs to do a lotÂ but the most importantÂ is to hook the reader with the inciting incident and set the tone.Â Also, elements such as setting and a vivid sense of character areÂ just as important as plot. I have different jobsÂ to do with either synopsis.
ForÂ ‘Pub Story’ I need to think more about the actual plotÂ and characterisationÂ and I’ve given this a lot of thoughtÂ and come up with some interesting ideas for Emma and to link her in to some of the other characters. I’ve thought some more about Kim and also about the need for a better title — preferably something that can work as a pub name and a metaphor for the story in general. I’ve decided that ‘The Angel’ might be good — and it’s a nice reference to the tube station just up the road from City University too.
‘Burying Bad News’ is slightly more problematic as I have to rejig what I already have rather than have the freedom to think of new ideas. However, the questions that Emily raised are more problems with the synopsis than the ongoing work itself — I need to make it more obvious that the story is told from the perspective of the two women and that the role of the MP is more of a foil than anything else. I also need to tick a few more boxes as regards the genre — it’s a thriller rather than a detective story (as the detectives are fairly peripheral).
So quite a bit of revision to do to the synopses but I’m fairly encouraged that the ideas themselves are appealing. One point that Emily made was that they both had plenty of character in opposition and potential for conflict — which is the basis of any dramatic action.