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When jpsorrow asked me to participate in the Great Plot Synopsis Project, my first thought was, "Great!  I'll use GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT" because it's been out for long enough that I won't spoil anyone's reading of the book.

Then, the project was clarified, and I understood that we were supposed to post full synopses, not "back of the book" hooks that we'd used to sell our novels.  Well, GIRL'S GUIDE never *got* a synopsis treatment - it went from "back of the book" to novel, without a synopsis in between.  You can read the "back of the book" copy, which secured my contract for GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL here:  http://www.mindyklasky.com/details_witchcraft.html (the six short paragraphs under "What's it all about")

Nope.  I needed to give you all a full synopsis. 

And so I will:  The full synopsis for SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL.

Here's the synopsis that I submitted to my editor (synopsis-submission was a payment point under this contract; these 1.5 pages earned me one third of my advance on the novel): 



 GIRL'S GUIDE TO SORCERY opens on Valentine's Day, approximately three months after the events in WITCHCRAFT. SORCERY tells the story of Jane Madison's ongoing mastery of her magic, even as she continues to struggle with her love life, her mother, and her uncertain relationship with her warder, David Montrose. The novel contains three separate story arcs that are woven together into one upbeat whole, complete with Mojito Night therapy, yogic contemplation, and girlfriends' banning together against the ignominy of first dates.

In the first arc, Jane meets and becomes infatuated with Parker Henderson, a customer who frequents Melissa's bakery. The handsome, thoroughly-British Parker is an architect by training. Smooth and polished, he leads Jane on a whirlwind romance, opening her eyes on a tour of the city of Washington that she has known all her life, treating her to fine meals, listening to the trials and tribulations of a costumed librarian, and generally seducing her. Jane, eager to have a part of her life that is not wrapped up in witchcraft and magic, goes out of her way to keep Parker secret from David and from Neko (Jane's familiar.) In fact, Jane creates a "surrogate boyfriend" to explain to David and Neko the time that she is devoting to Parker; she describes an utterly geeky librarian with whom she pretends to spend an unprecedented amount of time. Occasionally, Jane is almost caught out in her charade, and she resorts to phantom telephone conversations, forged emails, and recruited junior staff at the Peabridge Library to keep her actual romance secret.

In the second main story arc, Jane's family life remains rocky, even as her love life soars.  Jane's grandmother has instituted semi-monthly mother-daughter brunches in an effort to (re-)build the relationships between Gran, Clara, and Jane. While those brunches occasionally yield genuine insight into the older women's lives, Jane is more often frustrated by her mother's continued flakiness. At the same time, she worries about Gran's health. The relationships between the women are further strained when Jane is revealed to have magical powers that are much, much stronger than either her mother's or her grandmother's.  Even Melissa - with her ever-changing stories of First Dates From Hell - is not able to smooth the path perfectly for Jane to make peace with her relatives.

The third story arc concerns Jane's greatest challenge - meeting her Coven and finding acceptance among the witches of Washington, D.C. To some extent, David and Neko are able to guide Jane along the paths of magic; however, she alone must ultimately take the Coven's test, to see if she qualifies for membership among the witches. (Gran and Clara have been accepted, but at a lower level of "membership.")  The Coven proves to be as petty as high school, but the stakes are far, far higher. If Jane does not pass the witches' test, she will be forced to relinquish the collection of books in her basement, along with Neko.

Jane is grateful for a somewhat unlikely ally within the Coven, an attractive, popular witch named Haylee Johnson. Haylee is everything that Jane wants to be - beautiful, sophisticated, poised, and trained as a witch. Nevertheless, Haylee reminds Jane of the popular girls in high school, the ones who manipulated cliques, landed the best boyfriends, and managed to make miserable the "plain Jane" girls.

The three story strands come together in Jane's ultimate test to join the Coven. Escorted by David and assisted by Neko, Jane must work a spell of greater complexity and danger than any she has hitherto attempted: a weather-working magic that will spare the ill-prepared city of Washington from an unseasonable late blizzard. Halfway through the magical test, though, Jane realizes that there are forces within the Coven working against her. In fact, Haylee is determined to keep Jane from joining the group of witches; she does not want her own power and prestige within the group diluted.

Even as Jane reels from that discovery, she is struck by a more dire realization: Parker, Jane's ideal boyfriend, is actually Haylee's warder. Parker has been spying on Jane, siphoning off secrets during all the weeks that they've been dating. He has fed the Coven inside information so that they can structure a virtually unbeatable test.

Jane recovers from the blow. Relying on the techniques she learned from David, as amplified through Neko, Jane manages to disperse the magical weather system that threatens D.C. Even when she totters on the edge of physical, mental, and magical exhaustion, she is able to draw on the love and support of her best friend, her grandmother, and her mother. Ultimately, she passes the Coven's test, gaining full admission into the sisterhood (and disclosing Haylee and Parker's betrayal.)

In a brief denouement, Jane exercises control over her magical collection, buying her first book to expand her holdings. She brings together all of the important people in her life - Melissa, Gran, Clara, David, and Neko - and apologizes for the mess she made of things with Parker. She concludes that she'd best avoid dating while she masters being a witch, and her friends and family heartily agree (with a healthy amount of good-natured teasing.)

Those of you who have read the completed novel will note that there are several substantial storylines missing entirely from this synopsis:

Melissa's successful relationship with Rob, and Neko's relationship with Jacques.  Also, David's relationship with Haylee is absent from the synopsis. 

Each of those storylines evolved as I was writing the novel, giving greater depth to the overall work.  Of course, there were other changes as well - "Parker" became "Graeme" (after a query on this blog, for a British-sounding name), I abandoned the start date of Valentine's Day (so that the timeline worked out for a set end date), etc.

I hope that you find this synopsis helpful.  I'm happy to answer questions in the comments.  Let's all assume that anyone reading the comments has read the book (or doesn't care if the book is spoiled, plot-wise.)

Mindy, interested to see what other authors are posting for their synopses!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. What interested me is that you're stepping back and talking about the three plot arcs seperately. before brinding them together.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
Plot Plans
That's fascinating, Mindy! It was fun to read your original plan for _Sorcery and the Single Girl_, including the original title!
Mar. 18th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
Lol, with the little preplanning I do, my synopsis would read something like this: There will be battles, this time between Romans and Caledonians. :)

Ok, I can get a bit more detailed, but my way of writing only makes for a blurb draft, not a synopsis.

M. Horatius Veranius Aquila wants to make a career in the Roman army. But when he is dispatched to Britannia where the governor Julius Agricola fights against the Caledonians, he has dejà-vus of tribal life he can't explain. During a skirmish, Aquila is taken captive and discovered to be born to the tribes from his mother's side and heir to the leadership of the Cerones.

Torn between conflicting blood ties and allegiances, Aquila tries to adapt to the tribal culture and mediate between the Caledonian Confederation and the Romans. But some of the tribal warriors - led by Aquila's cousin Tarain - don't want peace, the influential patrician Cornelius Scipio accuses Aquila and his father of treason, and the Batavian auxiliaries in Aquila's charge are on the verge of mutiny.

When his attempts to negotiate peace between the Romans and Caledonians fail, Aquila has to decide for one side of his double heritage and become a traitor to the other.

I don't think that would be enough to sell on spec, so it's just well I'm yet in the stage where I'll have to deliver a completed novel. ;)

Of this one, I now have some 20K worth of scenes all over the place with some more characters emerging and claiming screen time. The messy stage of quilting, with all the pieces of cloth lying around in the house and only a vague notion of the general pattern (no, I don't quilt myself, but I know enough people who do to have an idea how it works). Anyone seen my needle? :)
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for doing this Mindy! My writing group was just discussing synopses, so we'll be studying yours and the rest listed on jsparrow's blog.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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