Thursday, August 21, 2008

On writing

I've just finished yet another rewrite of my novel whose working title has changed to Sparrows expelling Peregrines. It took longer than usual because I'm not good in the fierce heat and my family were here, though I did work early mornings. (My sister was impressed, and it take a lot to do that.) What's amazing is the word count fell from 106,000 to 85,000 words and I realized during the process just how difficult it is to cut stuff that's really good but doesn't need to be in the novel. Of course, I've saved all the really good bits for a future work.

I've also just completed the dreaded synopsis and am quite pleased with it. Most writers despise writing synposis, but I don't really have a problem with it as it was part of my 'O' level English course at high school to write precis.

I think the synopsis should be written as if one is writing copy for the book jacket. Only the most important plot details should be mentioned.

I've noticed some literary agents ask writers to send in a 1 to 7 page synposis as well as the first three chapters or so when querying them about one's work. Quite frankly, I am not interested in doing that because a short, on-point description of three paragraphs and a sample should be enough for a good agent to decide if they'd like to read the entire work or not.

As a result, there's a bunch of literary agents out there I won't query or who won't look at my work (I'm agent-hunting currently), but there you have it.

Another advantage to writing the synopsis is that one is forced to think about what type of novel one has written. This is invaluable as it then allows a writer to streamline the agent search.

My synopsis made me to realize I am really a writer of mainstream literary fiction that's offbeat and has dark and comic elements. Thus, I only query agents who like that kind of work.

So far, no requests for a 7 page synposis, tomes in themselves.

Anyway, here's my synopsis:

Exasperated by his domineering, highly successful father who's even handpicked his fiancee, Derry Connolly, a likable conventional young Irishman, breaks away and sets out for London to change while attending a language school. Change begins right on the ferry crossing when he meets Piper who’s really Philomena Harris, an independent young American studying at the LSE whose relationship with her mother is almost non-existent. Piper's enthralled with the “romance” of the IRA and falling in love with her Californian boyfriend, but not the sex.

After inviting Derry to stay at her home, Derry discovers a sawed-off shotgun in a closet and fears Piper may not be who she says is—even more so when he learns she had to escape the police during a visit to Westminster parliament. With alacrity, he moves in with Julia who’s an upstanding British immigration officer. She’s also involved with a married woman with two kids and despised by an elderly widow who writes to the Queen Mother and desperately wants possession of Julia’s home for her son. As a result, Derry unwittingly becomes her target, too. A bomb explosion leads the British secret police first to Piper and then Derry, who’s arrested and accused of being an IRA terrorist. While under interrogation, Derry's astonished to see a woman whom he's attracted to chatting to one of the female detectives, and Julia lies to his father as to why he's been arrested, a lie he appears to accept.

On a trip home to Manhattan following some unorthodox therapy for her sexual apathy from a German neighbor, Piper’s NYPD dad has a meltdown because he can’t accept Piper’s mother is getting married again. At the wedding, anxious that her new life be filled with good luck from the get-go, her mother informs Piper she’s working to forgive her for a past transgression. Fueled by champagne and irritation, Piper confronts her before she leaves on honeymoon and learns the reason her mother withdrew from her. Discovering Julia's lie and learning about his son’s legal predicament, his father arrives in London to demand Derry return home and a confrontation between the two occurs on that September day when the world’s view of terrorism changed forever.

No comments: