NovelWriting

Getting carried away….

No, I’m not finally getting carted off for spouting political stuff all the time or moanaholism. I’m reporting a moment of revelation I had today about my synopsis for my novel ‘Life Immaterial’.

I finished this novel in January and have sent it out to a few agents, no response as yet but I remain optimistic. The most arduous part of finishing the novel was writing a synopsis. This story had been the core of my existence for a year, I have almost lived the characters lives for them. I even travelled the tube and went to the location just to see what my main character would see, I expect this is called research, but at times it felt slightly obsessive!

When it came to summing up the novel in one A4 page, I was faced by having to trim down all the characters, plot and action scenes and summarise each in a few words. The story is about a woman who faces conflict with her mother and conflict with her children. I suppose I would call it a contemporary generational novel. The main character, Jinny, faces dealing with her mother’s murder and all the revelations this brings, whilst struggling with personal ongoing problems in her love relationships. As she does this, major shifts in her external environment mean she is juggling her personal, interpersonal and social relationships.

However, my synopsis focused on what I think are the major external milestones in the story, a murder, a kidnapping, and an explosion. Plot-driving scenes which punctuate Jinny’s life causing paradigm shifts in her thinking. I found it so difficult to write a character led synopsis, as this novel is about a murder. Inevitably, there is a backstory, and in many ways, the novel in set in two different love relationships, that of Sally, Jinny’s dead mother, and that of Jinny today. Jinny’s examination of these relationships brings a transformation to her life that allows her more peace than she had before.

Needless to say, after my weekend break I will be re-writing the synopsis.

My main problem with synopsis writing was that I got carried away with trying to explain everything. Even with the help of a synopsis group, I found myself straying from the ethical path of ‘write what you want to write’ and veering towards people pleasing. This fundamentally changed the way I viewed my novel and made me write a crime synopsis instead of a contemporary fiction synopsis. The story is about Jinny, and everything else is revolves around her.

‘Life Immaterial’s‘ opening chapters have been reviewed on many websites and whilst some people have loved it and even empathised, some people have seen Jinny’s character as impossible because she dislikes her children and her mother. Some have called Jinny unsympathetic, but I disagree. In the light of the Julia Myerson stories, many women have outed their concern over lack of maternal feeling, or their failure to worship their children publicly. The notion of unconditional love has come up time and time again, and Jinny’s conflict in ‘Life Immaterial’ weighs the semantics of ‘mother’ with this notion.

So whist Jinny may now be soft and fluffy and may internally question herself on many issues, whilst being stereotyped externally as an unwilling madonna, she certainly reflects the emerging feeling of some women today on parenting issues. I wonder now how I became so distracted from these essentially real things about Jinny. Probably to appease people who purport to know better. I am flexible in my writing and would gladly take on constructive advice, but now I return to my former path of being true to myself and to writing a synopsis that does the best job for my story. It’s certainly been a learning curve!

2 thoughts on “Getting carried away….

  1. Jacqui,
    You produce more work than any five people I know! I used to work with Mike Dorman, a prolific novelist and newspaperman. At his funeral, his daughter told a classic Mike Dorman story. It seems a very eager young man Mike once for the secret of his success. Without hesitation, he said, “If you want to be a successful writer, all you have to do is read everything you can get your hands on and write 1,000 words a day, every day of your life. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just write.” His daughter said he had just finished that day’s 1,000 when he died.
    Did you know Mike, too?

  2. You produce more work than any five people I know! I used to work with Mike Dorman, a prolific novelist and newspaperman. At his funeral, his daughter told a classic Mike Dorman story. It seems a very eager young man once asked Mike for the secret of his success. Without hesitation, he said, “If you want to be a successful writer, all you have to do is read everything you can get your hands on and write 1,000 words a day, every day of your life. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just write.” His daughter said he had just finished that day’s 1,000 when he died.
    Did you know Mike, too?

    20 April 2009 21:14

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