Thursday, July 06, 2006

Synopsis secrets...shh....

My buddy Trish Wylie has come out of her deadline cave and has too much time on her hands, doing crazy things like tagging me to carry on with her synopsis stuff (actually, it's a brilliant idea and she's posted some fabulous synopsis info on her blog so make sure you check it out.)

So, to join in the fun, I'm going to post here my outline/proposal/synopsis which I sent my editor for WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED, my upcoming release in North America (August).
This is an interesting lesson in how editors and authors work, as WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED ended up being quite different from the synopsis sent in. More after you've read the synopsis.

HEROINE: Carissa Lewis loves make-believe, fantasy and all things magical. After all, it’s much more fun than the harsh realities of the real world where her parents died and she, along with her two sisters, were fostered out to different families. Her childhood was the pits and she’s making up for lost time now content in the knowledge she can manufacture happiness for others.

HERO: Brody Elliott, ex-social worker, doesn’t believe in fairy tale endings. He’s seen the harsher side of life and experienced gut-wrenching devastation firsthand when his wife died. And despite his drive to save the world, he’s learned the hard way that he can’t win every crusade and some things just aren’t worth fighting for.

All Carissa has ever wanted for Christmas is a little happiness. She hated the silly season growing up, living with miserly foster parents who treated it like just another day. Now, it’s easier for her to create happiness for others at this special time of the year rather than concentrate on what’s lacking in her own life and running her own fairy shop, Fey For Fun, gives her the opportunity to do just that. Every year, she holds special events for the underprivileged kids in town and this year is no exception.
However, when Santa pulls out at the last minute (and dumps her in the process) she is left high and dry. That is, till her surly new neighbour Brody Elliott steps in.
Brody hasn’t been in town long and though gorgeous he’s made it clear that she would not be welcome to knock on his door for sugar! However, when he saves her hide and volunteers to play Santa for the kids, she sees a whole new side to her grumpy neighbour, a side she likes way too much for her peace of mind.
Despite her overtures at friendship, once the Santa suit comes off, Brody is back to his taciturn best and Carissa vows that this year, she’s going to ignore Christmas. In fact, when she comes to think about it, every Christmas has been a disaster for as long as she can remember. She’s always single and hating it, or hanging on to a loser like Peter—her ex Santa—just for the sake of it. Or else she’s playing Cupid for her two sisters, Tahnee and Kristen and failing at it. It’s all too hard and this year, despite her love of the day, she’s going to hibernate.
Not surprising, Brody has the same idea. He lost his wife to a drunk driver several days before Christmas five years earlier and has never recovered. A social worker should be able to save people, protect people, yet he feels he did a lousy job of looking after his wife. He has quit his job, moved out of the city and is happy with his anonymity in a small town, knowing he should get his life back on track but having no idea how.
On Christmas Eve, a storm cuts power to the town and Brody hears a scream from next door. Unable to ignore his latent protective instincts, he goes to the rescue and ends up spending the evening with Carissa and both discover that Christmas Eve isn’t so bad after all.
Carissa warms to Brody, seeing a sensitive side beneath his gruff exterior and Brody enjoys himself in the company of a woman for the first time in years.
However, guilt is a terrible thing and the next day, when Carissa visits him full of Christmas cheer, Brody has withdrawn into his cold, hard shell. He berates himself for enjoying himself, especially at this time of year, the anniversary of his wife’s death. He feels disloyal and needs to preserve her memory, not have fun with another woman.
Carissa, who is already half way in love with Brody, is determined for him to lighten up, so lures him to her shop on the pretext of him helping her out again only to greet him dressed like a Christmas fairy and spinning the magic she usually does for the kids.
Brody falls for Carissa against his better judgement but continues to push her away. She wants the family she never had and he can’t make her dream come true. His heart got ripped out losing his first wife and he won’t go there again, ever. Instead, he throws himself into a new project, deciding to open a half-way house for runaway kids and is prepared to settle in this town.
After being pushed away once too often, Carissa tires of living in a fantasy world and decides to leave her shop and head to the city for a dose of reality. Brody tells her that running away won’t solve anything yet who is he to talk?
Enlisting the help of the local kids who love Carissa, he convinces her to stay, knowing his heart is on the line.
After being alone for so long, Carissa and Brody find their very own Christmas miracle.

Brody has loved and lost. He equates love with pain, suffering and devastation, not only with his own experience in losing his wife but seeing it constantly in his job as social worker.
Being alone is easier.
No family, no responsibilities, no threat of losing it all.

Carissa has been alone her entire life. Sure, she had a foster family but emotionally she has learned to shelter her heart and look after number one. Being reunited with her sisters has been an amazing experience but she wants it all…a family of her own, a husband and kids to love and cherish.
However, she won’t settle for any old guy. She saw what that did to her foster parent’s marriage and she won’t go there. When she marries, it will be for love and this Christmas, she has found it. (COPYRIGHT NICOLA MARSH 2005)

As you can see, I wanted this to be a Christmas story but due to scheduling, it wasn't to be. Also, my editor thought that adding a child to the mix would up the angst of the hero so Molly was born, so to speak! Making Brody a single dad doing it tough really upped the ante and gave him the darker edge my editor wanted. Plus I had a heap of fun writing my first child character, so much so that my next two books, FOUND: HIS FAMILY and INHERITED: BABY both feature kids heavily in the story too!

For those who've already read Wife and Mother Wanted (recently released in the UK May, Australia June) you'll see how I kept the bulk of the storyline in the actual writing of the book but like most writers, found the characters taking the story on a few twists of their own!

When I give a synopsis to my editor, I also put in key scenes if they're vivid in my mind and for this book, I had quite a few (which have been removed so not to act as spoilers for those who haven't read the book!) However, the last few synopses I've handed in haven't had scenes as I find I'm not hovering between being a pantser and a plotter rather than the full-on plotter I used to be!

So, that's about it for now.
If you have any questions, fire away.
And make sure to check out Ally and Natasha's blog, as I'm sure they'll wanna play synopsis-tag too!

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