12.27.2005

#23 Crapometer

Genre - Contemporary Women's fiction



THINGS TO DO is a contemporary romantic comedy set in London and moving to Spain. Emma Morgan, twenty-four-year old reluctant travel agent, has a life which feels more like Doris Day than Bridget Jones.

Emma has a problem trying to work out her relationship with Marco, the handsome Caribbean beach barman she married in haste and left in secret six month's earlier.

Rob, who works with Emma at the travel agency, has been her best friend since college. Emma thinks he's in love with her attractive and glamorous sister Fiona, who in turn is engaged to a Harley Street doctor.

Emma's troubles begin when she is coerced into working as a fairy waitress at a charity bachelor auction organized by Fiona, where Fiona's fiancé calls off their engagement, Rob's bunny-boiling ex-girlfriend successfully bids for a date on a yacht with him, and Emma's mother starts dating Emma's rather toad-like and tipsy boss.

Bunny-boiling ex girlfriend is just brilliant. This is the kind of imaginative description that makes me think there’s a damn good novel behind this synopsis.

That same night, Marco makes a dramatic reappearance in Emma's life, swearing he loves her and really wants their marriage to work. Swept up by his declarations, Emma agrees to give him another chance. However, it quickly becomes apparent even to the ever-trusting Emma that his furtive and unpredictable behavior suggests that he has some highly undesirable secrets. Has he followed her to England for love, citizenship, or something more sinister?

When Emma's other best friend Sara suggests that her partner might know about Marco's secrets - including his close friendship and connections with Everton, a local gangster - life ceases just being problematic for Emma and starts to become dangerous.

Emma is kept busy trying to help everyone else around her, including sorting out Sara's relationship woes when Sara becomes convinced her partner, the father of her baby, is having an affair.

Events move rapidly as Marco attempts to ingratiate himself into Emma's, life much to the concern of her friends. Emma's flat is burgled in mysterious circumstances at the same time as a local gangland shooting occurs. A pampered pooch belonging to Rob's ex-girlfriend is dognapped and Emma's sister Fiona gets revenge on her cheating fiancé by maxing out his credit cards and pawning her engagement ring.

Marco's involvement with an international drug cartel places Emma and her friends at risk as the drug barons try to find out where the double-crossing Marco has stashed the profits from the consignment of narcotics he was meant to be minding.

Emma's story moves on to a date worse than death when Rob and his ex-girlfriend spend their auction prize date on board a yacht moored in Puerto Banus, Spain - an unlikely setting for a Yardie gang master and a heroin shipment.

Fiona is in attendance as the official charity chaperone, and Marco convinces Emma they should go too and have a holiday to sort out their relationship. Emma is reluctant, but Rob's desperation at not being stranded in another country with the ex-girlfriend who's been stalking him for weeks changes her mind.

Emma's doubts about Marco's desire to make the marriage work are confirmed when she and Rob overhear a conversation which could have lethal consequences for them both. It also opens Emma's eyes to Rob's true feelings for her, and hers for him.

Back in England after the date, Marco disappears with his loot and a visit from Special Branch leads Emma to discover her marriage to Marco wasn't legal - Marco had forgotten to mention that he was already married, as well as being wanted in several other countries for a series of serious offenses committed under different names.

A second, more disturbing visit from Everton's associates who are equally keen to find Marco - places Emma in jeopardy. Only the direct intervention of Everton, who has a soft spot for Emma, saves her from harm.

Fiona's grand wedding to a new suitor at a stately country manor provides the backdrop as the Yardie gang attempt to recover their goods, which Marco has stashed in an unsuspecting Fiona's care. A rescue squad led by the unlikely forms of Emma's mother and Emma's boss come to the aid of Emma and her sister as Fiona's big day degenerates into chaos.

Throughout the story Emma attempts to keep control of the events around her with the aid of her lists of "Things to Do". Scatterbrained and disorganized, Emma lurches from one disaster to another, always firmly convinced she's in control of the situation.

Emma consistently fails to notice the things that are right under her nose, like Marco's lies and Rob's love for her. It's only when her life unravels at a rate of knots that Emma finally realizes that love and lust are two very different things, and although it's hard to tell them apart, the most dramatic few months of her life give her the gift of doing so.



Killer Yapp here: What happens to the victim of the dognapping?? Email me at once.

Miss Snark here: This is an excellent synopsis, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Notice that it not only tells what happens, you get a sense of the characters and the format when she mentions the Things To Do lists. It’s ok to tell not show in a synopsis (example: Emma consistently fails to notice) because I have every confidence after reading this that the novel will show not tell. I’d read this in a heartbeat.

20 comments:

Nell Dixon said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it. Please assure killer Yapp that Robbie the dog is returned safe and sound in time to wear his Elton John style bling-bling collar and coat at Fiona's wedding.

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled as to why you think this is so good, Miss Snark.

I counted thirteen separate characters. In a 1000 word synopsis, isn't that a bit confusing?

Bunny-boiling ex-girlfriend? WTF? Is that a reference to the movie Fatal Attraction?

Also, it seems to me that the plot is driven by too many cooincidences.

Too many sentences are packed with too much information (some of them actually run-ons), another source of confusion.

Emma sounds like a nitwit. How are we suppposed to sympathize with such a weak protagonist?

Is this a test, Miss Snark? To see if anyone's paying attention?

Miss Snark said...

This is not a test. This is a good synopsis.
I wasn't confused about who anyone was. If there are 13 characters, so be it, the writing was good enough that I didn't feel overwhelmed.

Coincidence is the stuff of life in this genre. This isn't true crime or memoir, it's light fiction.

And of course, not everyone likes the same thing. That's how 750 agents manage to stay in business..we respond differently.

I think this is really good.

Anonymous said...

I love this. It's alive!

temporary imposition said...

well said anonymous - I also felt inclined to give this a slating - until I realized that my criticism is driven by a complete contempt for the genre.

I think Miss Snark's approval of this one is it falls within her genre, perfectly, (correct me if I'm wrong) AND more noteworthy it's clear, well-structured and avoids any idiosyncratic gongs. Discard the Naked Lunch boys n' girls, and back to the Emily Bronte.

I'm hooked on the exercise all the same!!

Feemus said...

I wonder if The Temp has actually read any Emily Bronte. I scarcely think that Wuthering Heights falls into the category of light romantic comedy.

snarky little vegemite said...

What? How rude, anonymous and temp (don't give up your day job, btw). Give me Jane Austen over Emily Bronte any day. Who wants silly little girls squealing 'Heathcliff!' when you can have good old Eliza Bennet telling Lady C de B where to go.

J.R. Turner said...

Yo-Temp--you do realize you've just stated that you have nothing but contempt for the genre you believe Miss Snark represents, don't you???

You are aware that Killer Yapp isn't a wilting Southern Dandy and will defend Miss Snark's honor, viciously if need be (and more likely if he's been helping himself to the gin pail ;) )

Just thought I'd give a heads up, yanno--cuz we authors are 'sposed to be supportive and all that happy crap ;)

Nell Dixon said...

It seems to me that my synopsis has fulfilled it's purpose and therefore proved Miss Snark's assessment accurate. The crapometer wasn't about genre but about synopsis skill. That my story has apparantly roused deep feelings amongst you all I will choose to take as a compliment.

Anonymous said...

Bunny-boiling is a cliche. It's in TV, movies, novels... guess it's thus far slipped under the Snark radar.

Bella Stander said...

The plot of Wuthering Heights isn't light romantic comedy. But as I discovered to my great surprise when I finally read the book years ago, the narration is at times very funny. The narrator is a self-centered hypochondriac & constantly gripes about his/her health, the poor accommodations at WH & how nobody pays enough attention to him/her.

And what IS a bunny-boiling girlfriend?

Anonymous said...

Snarky Little Vegemite,

How rude?

"Don't give up your day job, btw" is the only rude statement on this thread so far. Just because we don't agree with Miss Snark doesn't mean we don't wish the author well. I think the synopsis could be improved, and that's what this exercise is all about.

If the author gets a bite from an agent, then the purpose will be fulfilled. That remains to be seen.

I wish this writer the best, but she needs to be aware that Miss Snark's opinion might not be definitive.

Alina said...

What does bunny-boiling mean though? And why does Everton have a soft spot for Emma? Does he know her?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Nell!
I am in awe of your ability to condense what I'm sure will be a really great book into less than 1,000 words. Your synopsis is 'alive' and gives us a real flavour of the characters and the story.

Best
Tricia in UK

Anonymous said...

As far as the synopsis is concerned, it's very well done. Miss Snark is correct in stating that although it may have many characters, its written in a way that allows it to flow and be easily understood. Well done. I actually think it sounds like a fun story.

Ann said...

You should be proud of yourself, Nell.

Ann

Jude Hardin said...

I do wish this author the best. I hope this story makes it to the NYT bestseller list and that a blockbuster film comes from the rights. However, I have lots of problems with this synopsis. I'll take it one paragraph at a time:

1) Feels more like Doris Day than Bridget Jones? Are we supposed to understand this reference in 2005? Bad idea to use celebreties (or former ones) as touchstones.

2)Automatically classifies the heroine as a dumbass.

3)Since College? Has that been a year ago or twenty years ago? What is a "Harley Street doctor?" A motorcycle mechanic?

4)A fairy waitress? Is she gay or what? Bunny boiling??? What is toad-like and tipsy? Are these adjectives supposed to give us a visual?

5)Why does Marco reappear? Seems like he should be happy to be rid of her dumb ass.

6)Emma's other best friend Sarah. Damn she's popular.

7)How can Emma start to sort out Sarah's problems when her own life is so bitched up?

8)Incredible coincidences. Melodrama.

9)Try to diagram THAT sentence.

10)WTF?

11)Emma the dumbass, at it again. Doris Day was never THIS stupid.

12)Emma's eyes are opened. Yay!!

13)What is Special Branch and how did it appear out of nowhere? Yay! Emma finally realizes Marco is bad (by deux ex machine).

14)Dumbass Emma is saved by Everton, whoever the fuck that is.

15)Stately country manor? Where's Alfred? Dumbass Emma is rescued. Yay!!

16)If she's scatterbrained and disorganized, why does she have a "Things To Do" list? How can she think she's in control and still LURCH from one disaster to another. Truly a dumbass.

17)All this drama, and all she learns is the difference between love and lust? What an insight!

I'm sorry, Miss Snark, but I think you've missed the mark with this one. I'll have to give it a thumbs-down, though I do wish the author much success. Just my opinion, and I admit I don't read this genre.

Nell Dixon said...

1) There are certain celebrities whose qualities are recognisable by any age group.
2) Emma's age is given in the first para so it's easy to see when she left college.
3 and 4) I'm British, these terms have appeared in enough films and tv shows over the years for most people to know what they mean. If not, the novel itself makes them crystal clear.
5) Good question - why,
it's the key point in the plot.
6) She has two best friends both of which are mentioned, who doesn't have friends?
7) Well gosh, again, this is part of the plot.
8) Co-incidences happen if you're in the right place at the right time.
9) You can diagram sentences??? wtf
10 onwards There is a differnce between stupidity and innocence. People in love are not always wise. The contrast lies in the difference of Emma's perceptions of herself and how we as readers percieve her. We do have Manors in England and people get married at them. Emma knows Marco is bad, it just takes hearing something in his own words to make her face reality.
Many people struggle to differentiate between love and lust hence the divorce rate.
I hope this helps to clear up some mysteries for you Captain and I thank you for your good wishes and the trouble you've taken to comment on my synopsis.

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks Nell. I'm sure it's a great story, and your comment did help clarify some things. Best wishes.

bordermoon said...

=Bad idea to use celebreties (or former ones) as touchstones=

That depends on the celebrity...I think it's realitively safe to say that "Marilyn" is still an icon, as is "Gable". (I still occasionally see "Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?" in books.) John Wayne and Garbo still make the cut, instant-information-wise, if you'll pardon the hypenated bastard neologism. I think Doris Day falls into the category above.

On the other hand, only ardent movie buffs remember such people as Francis X. Bushman (known, in his heyday during the Silents, as Francis Sex Bushman -- oh, and if you want to watch a scene being thoroughly stolen, watch the original SABRINA, in which Bushman, silent and in the background, takes a scene away from Bogart, Holden, and Audrey Hepburn -- all in the forground, talking -- by the simple act of trying to get an olive out of a jar.)

Mae Marsh is also not going to ring many bells these days, nor will Barbara LaMarr or Vilma Banky.

Only time will tell if Madonna and other current celebrities will make the cut into the popular unconscious, so that a mention of her/him/it even in 50 years conveys information.