Revised: Statute of Treasons - Synopsis (30% fewer words)

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airball
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Revised: Statute of Treasons - Synopsis (30% fewer words)

Post by airball » May 5th, 2011, 11:47 pm

Edit: This is the synopsis for my WIP, Statute of Treasons, a 85k word historical mystery. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

airball
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It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. As the suburbs burn, midwife Bridget Hodgson comes home from a birth a house empty of family except for their pictures: There is one of her husband, two years dead; one of her daughter, whose death still haunts her; and when she sleeps, Bridget dreams of her son who died in infancy. Bridget has delivered hundreds of children, but death has robbed her of her own. That afternoon, Martha Hawkins appears at Bridget’s door seeking a position as a servant, and Bridget takes her in.

A few days later, Bridget is summoned to a birth late at night, and brings Martha along to assist. When a soldier attacks them, Martha swiftly disarms and kills him. Bridget realizes that Martha would likely be convicted of murder, so the women flee the scene and continue to the delivery. Afterwards, word arrives that William Cooper, the husband of Bridget’s friend Esther, has died – and that he may have been poisoned. The following day, Bridget learns that after a hasty trial Esther has convicted of her husband’s murder and sentenced to be burned. Bridget is aghast at the irregular process and simply cannot believe that her friend is a murderess.

That night Bridget attends a party for one of her clients, where she learns that Anne Goodwin, a maidservant to Rebecca Hooke is with child; Rebecca is Bridget’s long-time nemesis and the most malevolent woman in York. As a sworn midwife Bridget is required to interrogate Anne about the father of her child, but before she can, Anne disappears without a trace.

The following morning, Bridget learns that after her conviction Esther Cooper announced that she was with child and requested Bridget as her midwife. If Bridget confirms her pregnancy Esther’s execution would be delayed for months. Knowing that this may be her only chance to save her friend, Bridget confirms the pregnancy and begins her own investigation into William Cooper’s death.

The next day Bridget's nephew Will Hodgson comes to her with concerns about Martha. He says that he saw her at the market in close conversation with a man who had the look of a criminal. Bridget realizes that she knows virtually nothing about Martha’s past, and demands that she tell her the truth.

Martha begins her story by describing her time as a servant to an abusive master, who raped her and got her with child. Martha feared being labeled a whore, so she hid her condition and gave birth alone to a still-born boy. Desperate to escape her master, Martha joined her brother Tom Hawkins – the rogue Will saw in the market – and became an outlaw. After a robbery went terribly wrong, Martha realized her mistake, and fled to York with Tom in pursuit. Bridget sympathizes with Martha’s suffering and allows her to stay.

That afternoon, Bridget and Martha go to the Coopers’ house. There they meet Ellen Hutton, the servant who found the evidence implicating Esther. She describes William as a hard master who beat her and Esther, and chased away her suitor even though he was a respectable apprentice. The search for William Cooper’s murderer takes Bridget and Martha to the shop of William Penrose, an apothecary who may have sold poison to the killer. There they meet Richard Baker, an apprentice who suffered much abuse at Penrose’s hands. Richard says he has not sold any poison, but Penrose might have. When Bridget and Martha arrive at the alehouse Penrose frequents, they find Martha’s brother, Tom. As Bridget and Martha flee, Tom swears he will have his revenge on them both.

The next night a masked figure assaults Will and Bridget as they walk home from a christening, but Will manages to fend off the attack, wounding their assailant in the process. Bridget believes Tom is responsible, but Will points out that it could be William Cooper’s murderer. They decide to question Penrose as soon as possible. Bridget, Martha, and Will return alehouse, and discover that Penrose has been murdered. They go to Penrose’s shop to search for evidence of who had bought the poison, but find only Richard’s diary, which offers heartbreaking detail of Penrose’s abuse. When they return home, Bridget is called to the city jail by a mysterious young woman who refuses to talk to anyone else.

Bridget finds that the prisoner is Rebecca Hooke’s servant, Anne Goodwin. Anne tells Bridget that Rebecca’s son, James Hooke, got her with child and that the two of them had planned to marry. When Rebecca learned of their engagement, she flew into a rage and locked Anne in her room until the child was born. Soon after, someone took the baby and Rebecca told her that he had died. Anne feared that Rebecca killed the baby and might kill her too, so she tried to flee York, but the city watch captured and jailed her. Bridget realizes that the jail is the safest place in York and arranges for Anne to remain.

Bridget finds James in an alehouse drinking heavily and accuses him of murdering his own son. James tearfully tells Bridget that after the baby was born his mother spirited the boy out of Anne’s room and murdered him. Before Bridget can summon a constable, Rebecca and her footman arrive and drag James away. Bridget accuses Rebecca of murder. Rebecca brags of the killing and says she did so to protect her family’s reputation. Bridget is horrified, but realizes that because nobody else heard the confession, the crime would go unpunished.

That night, Bridget and Martha learn that Ellen Hutton, the Coopers’ maidservant, is pregnant, probably after being raped by Cooper. They then discover that Ellen’s suitor – the one that William Cooper drove away – is Richard Baker, the apothecary’s apprentice. As the pieces come together, Bridget and Martha realize that Richard gave Ellen poison to kill her master, and then murdered Penrose, both to hide his theft of the poison and to avenge his own suffering. Bridget and Martha rush to Penrose’s shop to search for evidence. Richard discovers them and attacks. In the ensuing fight, Bridget kills Richard. The two women confront Ellen. With Richard dead, she confesses to murdering William Cooper and is arrested.

The next day, Bridget receives word that Martha’s brother, Tom, is in a hospital suffering from a stab wound and does not have long to live. He has been telling the doctors of Martha’s criminal past, but they believe he is delirious. The two women visit, and Martha talks with Tom one final time before he dies. Soon after, the siege of the city is lifted, and Bridget arranges Anne Goodwin’s flight to London. Bridget then asks Martha to serve as her deputy, and begins the long process of training her in the art of midwifery.
Last edited by airball on May 6th, 2011, 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
Team Blog= http://bloodygoodread.blogspot.com

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Statute of Treasons - Synopsis (1100 words)

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 6th, 2011, 7:27 pm

Whew! First--this sounds like a great story. You do an excellent job of crafting a mystery which is a talent I don't have. With that said, I have only written a one-page synopsis in my time, and so some of my comments might not fit with a full synopsis. This is such a multi-layered story and it works well together, but I am concerned that there are too many character references. Personally, I had to keep scrolling back up to remind myself who was who. I would research to see if you are to include all of your characters in a full synopsis or not. Personally, I would consider boiling this down and focusing on your main plot lines. The story with Martha is interesting, but I don't think you need to include it in the synopsis in order to get your story across. Additionally, what happened with Esther Cooper? Is she released at the end of the book?

I certainly would focus on Bridget solving the Cooper murder and the issue with Rebecca Hooke. Although I found myself wondering why they were nemeses? I think clarifying that point would make it more feasible as to why Bridget involves herself with Anne Goodwin.

Otherwise, I saw a few typos along the way that I will correct in the synopsis. This is a fantastic premise and I hope to see it on bookshelves very soon!

airball wrote:Edit: This is the synopsis for my WIP, Statute of Treasons, a 85k word historical mystery. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

airball
----------------------------------

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. As the suburbs burn, midwife Bridget Hodgson comes home from a birth to a house empty of family except for their pictures: There is one of her husband, two years dead; one of her daughter, whose death still haunts her; and when she sleeps, Bridget dreams of her son who died in infancy. Bridget has delivered hundreds of children, but death has robbed her of her own. Very nice. That afternoon, Martha Hawkins appears at Bridget’s door seeking a position as a servant, and Bridget takes her in.

A few days later, Bridget is summoned to a birth late at night, and brings Martha along to assist. When a soldier attacks them, Martha swiftly disarms and kills him. Bridget realizes that Martha would likely be convicted of murder, so the women flee the scene and continue to the delivery. Afterwards, word arrives that William Cooper, the husband of Bridget’s friend Esther, has died – and that he may have been poisoned. The following day, Bridget learns that after a hasty trial Esther has 'was' or 'has been' convicted of her husband’s murder and sentenced to be burned. Bridget is aghast at the irregular process and simply cannot believe that her friend is a murderess.

That night Bridget attends a party for one of her clients, This caused me to raise my eyebrows. It seems irregular that she would fraternize with her clients, but I have not done the research. where she learns that Anne Goodwin, a maidservant to Rebecca Hooke is with child; Rebecca is Bridget’s long-time nemesis (WHY?) and the most malevolent woman in York. As a sworn midwife Bridget is required to interrogate Anne about the father of her child, but before she can, Anne disappears without a trace.

The following morning, Bridget learns that after her conviction Esther Cooper announced that she was with child and requested Bridget as her midwife. If Bridget confirms her pregnancy Esther’s execution would be delayed for months. Knowing that this may be her only chance to save her friend, Bridget confirms the pregnancy and begins her own investigation into William Cooper’s death. Is Esther really pregnant? Just wondering...

The next day Bridget's nephew Will Hodgson comes to her with concerns about Martha. He says that he saw her at the market in close conversation with a man who had the look of a criminal. Bridget realizes that she knows virtually nothing about Martha’s past, and demands that she tell her the truth.

Martha begins her story by describing her time as a servant to an abusive master, who raped her and got her with child. Martha feared being labeled a whore, so she hid her condition and gave birth alone to a still-born boy. Desperate to escape her master, Martha joined her brother Tom Hawkins – the rogue Will saw in the market – and became an outlaw. After a robbery went terribly wrong, Martha realized her mistake, and fled to York with Tom in pursuit. Bridget sympathizes with Martha’s suffering and allows her to stay.

That afternoon, Bridget and Martha go to the Coopers’ house. There they meet Ellen Hutton, the servant who found the evidence implicating Esther. She describes William as a hard master who beat her and Esther, and chased away her suitor even though he was a respectable apprentice. The search for William Cooper’s murderer takes Bridget and Martha to the shop of William Penrose, an apothecary who may have sold poison to the killer. There they meet Richard Baker, an apprentice who suffered much abuse at Penrose’s hands. Richard says he has not sold any poison, but Penrose might have. When Bridget and Martha arrive at the alehouse Penrose frequents, they find Martha’s brother, Tom. As Bridget and Martha flee, Tom swears he will have his revenge on them both.

The next night a masked figure assaults Will and Bridget as they walk home from a christening, but Will manages to fend off the attack, wounding their assailant in the process. Bridget believes Tom is responsible, but Will points out that it could be William Cooper’s murderer. They decide to question Penrose as soon as possible. Bridget, Martha, and Will return alehouse, and discover that Penrose has been murdered. They go to Penrose’s shop to search for evidence of who had bought the poison, but find only Richard’s diary, which offers heartbreaking detail of Penrose’s abuse. When they return home, Bridget is called to the city jail by a mysterious young woman who refuses to talk to anyone else.

Bridget finds that the prisoner is Rebecca Hooke’s servant, Anne Goodwin. Anne tells Bridget that Rebecca’s son, James Hooke, got her with child and that the two of them had planned to marry. When Rebecca learned of their engagement, she flew into a rage and locked Anne in her room until the child was born. Soon after, someone took the baby and Rebecca told her that he had died. Anne feared that Rebecca killed the baby and might kill her too, so she tried to flee York, but the city watch captured and jailed her. Bridget realizes that the jail is the safest place in York and arranges for Anne to remain.

Bridget finds James in an alehouse drinking heavily and accuses him of murdering his own son. James tearfully tells Bridget that after the baby was born his mother spirited the boy out of Anne’s room and murdered him. Before Bridget can summon a constable, Rebecca and her footman arrive and drag James away. Bridget accuses Rebecca of murder. Rebecca brags of the killing and says she did so to protect her family’s reputation. Bridget is horrified, but realizes that because nobody 'no one' seems to flow better here else heard the confession, the crime would go unpunished.

That night, Bridget and Martha learn that Ellen Hutton, the Coopers’ maidservant, is pregnant, probably after being raped by Cooper. They then discover that Ellen’s suitor – the one that William Cooper drove away – is Richard Baker, the apothecary’s apprentice. As the pieces come together, Bridget and Martha realize that Richard gave Ellen poison to kill her master, and then murdered Penrose, both to hide his theft of the poison and to avenge his own suffering. Bridget and Martha rush to Penrose’s shop to search for evidence. Richard discovers them and attacks. In the ensuing fight, Bridget kills Richard. The two women confront Ellen. With Richard dead, she confesses to murdering William Cooper and is arrested.

The next day, Bridget receives word that Martha’s brother, Tom, is in a hospital suffering from a stab wound and does not have long to live. He has been telling the doctors of Martha’s criminal past, but they believe he is delirious. The two women visit, and Martha talks with Tom one final time before he dies. Soon after, the siege of the city is lifted, and Bridget arranges Anne Goodwin’s flight to London. Bridget then asks Martha to serve as her deputy, and begins the long process of training her in the art of midwifery.

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airball
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NEW!! Statute of Treasons - Synopsis (Now with 30% fewer wor

Post by airball » May 6th, 2011, 11:14 pm

Okay, chopped a plot line and jazzed up the lingo to make it less of a "And then, and then, and then," and more suspenseful as I hope the book is.

Also just got a request for a synopsis and a partial, so the stakes just went up!

------------------------------

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have laid siege to the royalist stronghold of York. As the city’s suburbs burn, midwife Bridget Hodgson returns from a harrowing birth a house empty of family except for their pictures: There is one of her husband, two years dead, and another of her daughter, whose untimely death still haunts her. When Bridget finally sleeps, she dreams of her son who died in infancy. Bridget has delivered hundreds of children, but death has robbed her of her own. That day, Martha Hawkins comes to Bridget desperately seeking protection from the ravages of war. Bridget is moved by Martha’s plight and hires her as a maidservant.

A few nights later, Bridget is summoned to a birth and brings Martha to assist. A soldier attacks them and in a desperate battle, Martha slashes the soldier’s throat. Bridget knows that the killing can not go unpunished, so the women flee the scene and continue to the delivery; from that night forward they are bound by blood. After the birth, the women learn to their horror that William Cooper, the husband of Bridget’s friend Esther, has been poisoned. After a scandalously brief trial, Esther is convicted of killing her husband and sentenced to be burned. Bridget is disgusted by the injustice and resolves to help her friend. To Bridget’s surprise Esther claims to be pregnant and asks Bridget to be her midwife. Knowing that this is her only chance to save Esther, Bridget confirms her pregnancy – thus delaying her execution – and launches her own investigation into William Cooper’s death.

As Bridget and Martha begin to search for William’s killer, Bridget’s nephew Will Hodgson tells her he believes that Martha is hiding a criminal past, for he saw her in close conversation with a heavily-armed man who had the look of a highwayman. Bridget realizes that she knows nothing about Martha’s history, and demands the truth.

Martha tells Bridget that before coming to York she had been servant to a vicious master who raped her repeatedly. Martha became pregnant and gave birth to a stillborn boy. Desperate to escape, Martha joined her outlaw brother Tom Hawkins – the man Will saw – and became a thief and cutpurse. After a burglary went horrifyingly wrong, Martha regretted her decision and fled to York with Tom in close pursuit. Bridget sympathizes with Martha and allows her to stay.

Bridget and Martha continue their investigation at the Coopers' house, where they question their maid, Ellen Hutton. Ellen tells them William was a violent master, who beat both her and Esther, and prevented her from marrying her suitor. Bridget and Martha’s search then leads them to the shop of Thomas Penrose, a disreputable apothecary who may have sold poison to the killer. They interrogate Penrose’s apprentice Richard Baker, who – like Ellen – suffered much abuse at his master’s hands. Richard denies selling the poison, but says Penrose might have.

The next night a masked figure attempts to kill Bridget as she and Will walk through the city. In a terrifying clash, Will stabs their assailant who flees. Martha accuses Tom of the attack, but Will argues that it could be William Cooper’s murderer. They return to question Penrose, but find him beaten to death in a notorious brothel. The murderer appears to be tying up loose ends.

Bridget and Martha then learn that Ellen Hutton was raped by Cooper, and uncover evidence linking Ellen and Richard – he is the suitor Cooper drove away. The pieces come together as Bridget and Martha realize that Richard gave Ellen the poison to kill her master, and then butchered Penrose both to hide his guilt and to avenge his own suffering. Bridget and Martha rush to Penrose’s shop to search for evidence, but Richard find them there and attempts to kill them both. Desperate to protect Martha, Bridget seizes a knife and stabs Richard to death. The two women bring Ellen to see Richard’s body, and she tearfully confesses to poisoning William Cooper and to luring Penrose to his death.

After Ellen is convicted of petty treason, and Esther Cooper is released from jail, Bridget receives word that Martha’s brother is in a city hospital dying from the wound Will dealt him. Martha talks with him one last time before he dies. Bridget asks Martha to serve as her deputy and the two women, now fast friends, begin a long partnership as York’s leading midwives.
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
Team Blog= http://bloodygoodread.blogspot.com

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Re: Revised: Statute of Treasons - Synopsis (30% fewer words)

Post by ChrisM » May 15th, 2011, 12:25 pm

Wow! What a cool, intricate story!

I'm new at commenting, but wanted to share some ideas for tightening up the first paragraph. There is a grammar mistake that threw me off, and a tone that doesn't fit the rest of the synopsis.

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have laid siege to the royalist stronghold of York. As the city’s suburbs burn, midwife Bridget Hodgson returns from a harrowing birth to an empty house. Just pictures remain of her husband and her daughter, whose untimely death haunts her; and she dreams of her son, who died in infancy. That day, Martha Hawkins comes to Bridget desperately seeking protection from the ravages of war. Bridget is moved by Martha’s plight and hires her as a maidservant.

Does Martha arrive that same day, while Bridget is sleeping, or the next day?

Hope this helps!

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