Synopsis Blues and Bubble Baths

Yesterday, my critique group met. I think I may have mentioned what a great group this is. Constructive not destructive. Supportive and fun. All the pacing and agonizing over the chapter I mentioned in the last post was worth it. That’s the one I read yesterday. In Panera’s. Thank God I’m not to the sex scenes yet. Towards the end of lunch (we usually meet at one of the members homes then go out to lunch but she’s out of town which is why we ended up reading at Panera’s) I asked if any of them would be interested in going on a tour of the Naval Amphibious Base with me if I ever got up enough nerve to schedule it. The answer was yes but the question was why did it take nerve.

I thought about this all the way home. The hero of this book is a Navy SEAL. I love Suzanne Brockmann and it is through her books that I first became enamoured of the SEALs. But I do not want to imitate her and could not even if I wanted to. And I’m embarrassed because who am I to write about SEALs. I don’t even know any though I’ve done a lot of research and reading. So I avoid telling people that my hero is a SEAL. And I’ve tried to change his profession. But my characters just fold their arms and say “Too bad lady, that’s who we are.” My books don’t have the missions and military action of Suz Brockmann’s though there is some. There’s definitely action but most of it takes place at home not in the field.

Today, I found the number for the Public Affairs office of the Naval Base on the Internet and made myself call them. Turns out they don’t do individual tours only group. I told the woman I spoke with that I was a writer and she said she’d get her PAO (Public Affairs Officer) to call me and about an hour later he did.

He wanted to know why I wanted a tour and what I was writing and I told him my hero was a SEAL, my heroine the orphaned daughter of a SEAL and that some of the scenes took place on base. I explained that what I was looking for was familiarity so I didn’t say something so totally absurd that anyone familiar with the Navy or the base would throw the book against the wall in disgust.

So what does this have to do with synopses you ask. Well, the PAO asked me send him an email telling him what the book was about and why I needed to see the base. He has to show that to his bosses before it could even be considered. National Security you know.

One of my goals (last month but I didn’t do it so now it’s a goal for this month) is to write a synopsis because I want to enter some more contests. So now I have two reasons. I opened all the synopses of this book that I’d written before and read through them. After I finished getting sick, I started over. And froze.

If I can write a 100,000 + word book, why is it so hard to write a 250-500 word summary?

I have read some great articles and books on writing a synopsis. I’ve gone to workshops. It hasn’t helped. I get too involved in the minutia of the book. I can’t remember my initial premise. I’m not sure whether I had one.

I pulled out a timeline and some notes I’d done last year after the RWA and read through them and it is helping crystallize the characters’ motivations, their goals. It also helped pinpoint some major problems in the second part of the book. The part I’m going to start working on by next Monday. What do I do when I have a major problem like that? I take a bubble bath. Bubble baths are wonderful places for thinking.

Guess what one of the major problems with the Part Two is? None of it should take place on the base. I’ve got a totally new opening scene that brings in one of the important secondary characters and highlights Mike’s motivation. I’m really excited. But now I don’t need a tour.

Do you think I’ll get put on some Homeland Security watchlist if I don’t follow up with the PAO?

9 Responses to “Synopsis Blues and Bubble Baths”

  1. Keziah Fenton Says:

    Not if you send the PAO a lovely email explaining to him how the story changed thanks to his request for clarity. Or direct him to your blog. I’m sure Dee or Bryan could give you some insight into Navy life if you needed it.
    Bubble baths. All my best thinking happens in the shower. Interesting.

  2. McB Says:

    GO YOU!!! I’m so proud that you called the base; I know that was a big step for you even if you have since tweaked the story.

  3. Theresa Says:

    Good for you!!

    I would have been very nervous about calling too. I don’t like to call people on the phone who I don’t know very, very well. I’ve tried to figure out why this is but I have no idea.

    BTW, I like CMS’s suggestion. Probably better not to drop off the face of the earth. More suspicious.

  4. rssasrb Says:

    I’m going ahead and send an email with the infor now that I actually have a synopsis.

    By the end of the week. Yeah, that’s when I’ll send it.

  5. Keziah Fenton Says:

    Did you send the email, huh, did you?
    Good job, I’m proud of all your progress this past week. Keep up the good work.
    Theresa send this woman a star!

  6. Scope Dope Cherrybomb Says:

    Keziah’s right. They would wonder why you asked for a base visit and then didn’t follow through.

    The military was always a little tight, even in my day, but especially so now and I’m glad to see it. They need to be. And you were talking to an active and prestigious Naval base of operations. I am assuming you called at Richmond. It is Richmond isn’t. I remember being impressed by the huge naval contingent when we went to Florida and the huge ships were just sitting there, in the water of course, but it looked like they were right against the road,somewhere close to D.C.

    That was a terribly long, run-on sentence, wasn’t it.

    Good for you RSS. Keep up the good work.

  7. Scope Dope Cherrybomb Says:

    Sorry. Forgot the question marks.

  8. rssasrb Says:

    The base is in Norfolk. And no I haven’t sent the email yet. But I will. Tomorrow.

  9. Dusty Says:

    I worked in the Public Information Office at Charleston Naval Shipyard.

    The officer is not a literary critic. He just wants to know that you are not going to savage the service, as many artistic folks are wont to do. Also, he will be able to tell from your synopsis what areas you would benefit from seeing, what questions you need to have answered. In fact, he might like to see a list of questions from you. Yes, part of it is security, but part of it is simply the efficiency of being prepared for a meeting. Go for it!

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