Round 3 in the July 2023 #TeamWriter Challenge was to take one of the story starts from Round 2 and write a synopsis. I had never done a true story synopsis, so at first I wrote out an entire plot outline for my chosen story start. After I read a few articles and watched a couple of videos, I realized I’d done it the wrong way, so I then went back and tightened up my outline A LOT to fit the parameters of the challenge. It was a great learning process, though! At the end, I have a reasonably complete plot outline as well as a halfway decent story synopsis.
Here’s the tighter synopsis I shared with the #TeamWriter group for critique:
Isa Keene, newly minted law school graduate and next in line in the prominent Keene legal dynasty, just wants to rekindle her long-deferred love affair with Kalle Swift when their tryst at the abandoned house on Peachtree Avenue is interrupted by the sudden brief appearance of the ghost of Kalle’s mother, Rona.
Rona won’t tell them why she’s there, and Kalle won’t rest until his mother’s ghost can. For the sake of both their hearts, Isa decides to help. Together, she and Kalle work to unravel the reasons behind Rona’s ghost: what happened when she died ten years ago, why she appears at Peachtree Avenue, and how to satisfy her troubled spirit. Standing in the way are Isa’s uncle Heath, the town sheriff who wants her to stay out of police business, and Isa’s mother Elise, the Keene matriarch who will do anything to ensure the prominence of their family name.
Isa and Kalle’s investigation of Rona’s death leads them through a twisted, hidden history entangling both their families, overflowing with forbidden passions, conspiracies and lies, and powerful people willing to kill to keep their secrets safe. In the end, Isa finds justice for Rona but at the cost of learning some horrifying truths about her family, and that the value of the Keene name is only as good – or as terrible – as their actions.
As they watch the demolition of the house on Peachtree Avenue, Isa and Kalle embark on a new path as paranormal investigators, Keene and Swift. Rona’s ghost appears a final time, smiles, and fades away.
Isa (Elisabeth) Keene – Principal protagonist and POV character.
Kalle Swift – Secondary protagonist and Isa’s love interest.
Heath Keene – Isa’s uncle and the town sheriff. Antagonist.
Rona Swift – Deceased. Kalle’s mother. Died ten years earlier, reportedly in a hit-and-run accident. Appears only.
Elise Keene – Isa’s mother and the authoritative town judge. Antagonist.
Sherell Bisley – Reclusive psychic. Supporting character.
Nicklas Braun – Contemporary of Isa and Kalle and sheriff’s deputy. Supporting character, minor foil.
Frank Markowski – Deceased. Isa’s father and Elise’s husband (Elise kept her maiden name and passed it on to Isa for legacy reasons). Died nine years earlier, reportedly due to asphyxia caused by a drug overdose. Mentioned only.
At the start of the story, Isa is indifferent to her family name and the privilege it provides. She resents it for the way people tease her about it. She simply wants to start her romance with Kalle in earnest now that he’s finally home. Her investigation into Rona’s death reveals the power her family has wielded over the town and how it has controlled its secrets for a decade. Isa learns that the influence of a family name can be important, especially when used for the wrong reasons. For the right ones, too, though, if someone like her is willing to make the change. As people in town are fond of saying, “Nobody says no to a Keene.”
Sometimes, one gets the urge to write a raunchy sex story. I do, at least, though it’s been a while. I looked back through my archives and found I haven’t written a play-by-play sex scene in at least 2 years. I haven’t written a heterosexual sex scene in 5. And I haven’t written a het sex scene from a woman’s POV in 8. So I’m a bit out of practice. But I had fun with it.
The characters of Eve and Alan took me by surprise in that they appeared from basically nowhere with half their backstory already taken care of. As this is a first draft, it’s very rough around the edges (and through the middle). I don’t know if I’ll go back to these characters later or if they even warrant a second look-through. I did enjoy figuring out the ins and outs of this vignette/short story/whatever you want to call it. And hopefully I haven’t completely lost my touch for fluffy smut.
Click the title card to decide for yourself; the link will open a readable PDF. And if you’re so inclined, let me know what you think in the comments!
This week’s Saturday Sentence Challenge prompt over at the #TeamWriter Facebook Page was:
I am so very happy to see him come back all in one piece.
The first thing that struck me about this prompt? How the words should evoke a feeling of happiness or relief. However, the sentence construction, which is very stilted, made me feel nothing at all. There’s also the cliche of the phrase “all in one piece.” I believe that cliches become cliches because they’re true. I also think we can use them in our writing, so long as it’s done sparingly and to effect. Or humorously, though satire is a completely separate conversation.
As I’ve mentioned before, I try not to spend too much time on a Saturday Sentence Challenge prompt. Usually, I need at least a few passes before I get the right words. For this one, though, the sentences popped nearly fully-formed into my head on first thought.
Immediately, I knew whose voice I wanted to use for this prompt: June McAllister. June is the mother of one of my “Finding Mister Wright” protagonists, Rob, who spent time in the US Army. I got an image of Rob returning home, and June taking him in her arms. The powerful emotions associated with a mother hugging her son on his safe return home from a tour of duty filled my own heart with sympathetic joy.
I’m actually pretty proud of my answer to this particular prompt, which you can also read below (for sake of text-only accessibility):
I cried as I hugged him, my little boy who wasn’t so little anymore, who’d in fact grown big and muscular from carrying a fifty-pound pack every day through the far-off and frightening wilderness of war-torn Afghanistan. Thank God, thank God, I thought with every breath while this brave young man just squeezed me once and said, “I missed you, Mom.”
Happy writing to you this week, whether it’s your own or prompt-driven!
The Eve and Alan characters are new to me. I’m still feeling my way around them and their post-WWII world. I already like them, though, and they’re already forming a story for themselves. Love (and sex) play a part because that’s how they first came to my mind. A few kind readers took a chance on my initial foray into their world, in the vignette “Apples and Eve”, available by request if you so comment.
I’ve never written this genre before. These characters are speaking to me, though. Who knows? Maybe, if the feedback is good, I’ll try my hand at more of this particular story. At any rate, if you decide to read this little scene, I’d be grateful if you share your thoughts. Click the link below to read the PDF; it runs ~1700 words, or 6 pages double-spaced.
Warning: This story contains description of mature interactions between adults.