Minna Howard on the dreaded synopsis!

      I simply hate writing a synopsis of a book I’ve yet to write.
        I know it’s an important part of pitching an idea for a novel but if I know how the story is going to pan out before I write it I become overwhelmed with boredom and the idea is dead before its began. 
         Writing a novel is a big commitment and I need the excitement of spontaneous events, new trials and tribulations to test my characters, see how they affect them and how they deal with them.
        I see the novel as a sort of puzzle. The main characters find themselves in a quandary, how it is going to be solved?
        My novels are character driven. At the start I have little idea how the characters are going respond to the dramas that befall them.
      I write about people in mid life that have reached a cross roads in their lives – relationship break ups, empty nesters, wanting a baby before its too late, starting again after the death of a partner etc. etc.  
      The names of the characters are important to me. Sometimes I choose them from the Births, Marriages and Death column in the newspaper. Babies have names, which are fashionable today, people getting married are from approx. early twenties upwards, and deaths much older. I also have a fat book of names to search through too.
     My next book, A Dad of his Own is set at Christmas time (an emotive time for various reasons) Children are often asked by friends and family, what they would like for Christmas. Expecting, Freddie, the small boy in this story to ask for the latest game, electronic device etc., his Godparents are shocked when he answers,  ’ all I want for Christmas is a Dad.’ His own having died before he was born. 
      I started off with that question which suddenly hit me for no particular reason, and I had no idea how it would pan out. By working like this I find it keeps me interested in the characters and the plot, as I am, to some extent waiting to see what happens next, myself. Would his dream come true and who would this man be and how and where would his mother, Anna, find him?  
       Someone told me you should only have six characters but I often have more, though probably no more than six important ones. In life people have friends, work mates, relatives etc. .who affect their lives. Some in good ways, others in not so good but most of the characters chosen have a part in the story, others pass through.
      I quite like writing about ‘nasty’ people (they always get their comeuppance!) because I find them interesting to write about. Why are they so unpleasant? What drama have they suffered to make them so? They are never the main character but usually part of the trials the main character or someone close to them must suffer. 
      On good days the story flows characters acting out on the page straight from my sub conscious, on bad days nothing seems to work, which probably happens to most writers and sometimes by doing something else that doesn’t need much brain power (cleaning, gardening or just chilling, etc.) ideas for the plot creep into my mind.
        As the book progresses I start to think about it more. How might this end? Who ends up with who . . .  or not? 
      I know the genre of books I write should always end satisfactorily for the reader. Everyone knows that life does not always work out for the best but I feel that whatever happens novels must end with hope
        Not having a detailed plot plan does have its own difficulties, getting characters to the right place at the right season of the year, getting their ages correct if using well-known events. As I write I do sometimes make maps and charts and are so thankful for the Internet being able to look up things on the computer without leaving my desk.
       It is the uncertainly of what will happen to these characters that have jumped into my mind that spurs me on.  If I had a neat plot all worked out before I started writing it would feel as if I’m pushing inanimate people around and it becomes contrived, which in turn kills the plot and the whole writing process becomes like a dreary chore instead of an exciting adventure into the unknown. 
     
Minna Howard, July 2018