I've been way under the weather for the past few days, as you know, and fretting about not meeting the demands I'd committed to for National Writers Month, e.g. writing a novel in a month. As a basis, I was going to use a synopsis I wrote a few years ago: The Ghost Doll. I like the story, I know just enough about the characters for them to start telling me who they are, I'm looking forward to researching/visiting the south for background.
I like the title, too, but when I started thinking about it I realized that it really does tell the whole story -- and if it does, there's not enough story there. I need a physical antagonist for this story -- not just a paranormal one -- who will provide not so much a secondary plot as a concurrent one. But who is s/he and what's the motivation? No clue. So here we go again: this novel isn't going to be written in a month or even two. At best, I will have to set myself the task of rewriting the synopsis in a month and making sure it makes sense.
This experience reveals a nasty secret about the synopsis: if you can write one quickly, clearly and compellingly, so that the story seems to flow like silk off a spool, there's something really wrong with the story. There's not enough there -- at least not for mystery/suspense/thriller --whatever it is I'm writing now. I'm not knocking romance - that's where I came from - but it's a whole different kind of writing. The task in romance is to create circumstances that keep the protagonists apart until they're about nuts and then find a way to fling them together. The romance story goal is clear, but what I'm writing now demands a lot more of me - or at least different stuff. It's as if I have to write the story in such a way as to mislead the reader while always telling the truth. I'll need to layer all the little byways, assumptions, miss-steps so that the story the reader can play detective. There should be no clear feeling that all will work out in the end.That makes for a very difficult synopsis.
So, while this flu is bad, and keeps me from my work, it also keeps me from writing too soon and having to toss some chapters. As far as goals, the last book took 15 years. With any luck at all I'll finish this in 10.