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Crossing Synopsis

by joydaly 

Posted: 30 November 2016
Word Count: 3489
Summary: Andy, small and large versions - thanks.

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SYNOPSIS – Crossing – YA Psychological Mystery/Thriller.  50000 words
Fourteen-year-old JACK is forced to move to a new state and he is desperately miserable until he uncovers a shed stuffed with Meccano at the back of his dilapidated rental. But delight turns to terror when he hears the voice of  SAMMY, his murdered twin. Jack flees the shed, but is drawn back to discover that the voice belongs to WILLIAM, an invisible friend.
Jack questions the friend label, questions who or what William is and knows that he should tell his mum and dad. But last time he heard voices they shoved little brown bills down his throat. Besides, something is better than nothing. He and William begin a deep and secret friendship in the shed which continues uninterrupted until he meets, SYDNEY, a girl at school.
When William learns of Jack’s new friend, he exposes his all-consuming jealousy. Frightened, Jack tries to separate William from the rest of his life – something that William will never allow.
Then Jack and Sydney learn that five kids have disappeared from Jack’s house over the past hundred years and they are terrified that Jack will be the sixth victim. They determine that an inter-generational family of killers must be responsible and decide to try and hunt them down.
A couple of likely suspects are finally discounted and Sydney and Jack realize that the homicidal family they have been searching for, doesn’t exist.
Jack is left with a haunting alternative – William. He has been there since the first little girl went missing. What if he never wants his friends to leave?
He shares his suspicion with Sydney, who crushes him by confessing that she knows William is a figment of his damaged mind, of his coping mechanism that allows him to function since he lost his twin, Sammy. She has been in his shed and there are no Meccano kits, no beautifully built models and no William. Just twisted scraps of metal, an old chair and silence.
Reeling, Jack retreats to the shed, questioning his own sanity. William, threatened with banishment, acts decisively.  He tricks Jack into the deep water-hole behind the property where Jack is dragged towards skeletons, hidden in an under-water cave. Jack knows that these are the long-missing children from his house and is happy to join them, to be reunited with his twin.
Only a daring rescue by Sydney saves him from drowning and Jack is forced to confront the ghosts within to understand that reality is perception and perception can kill.
Returning to the now abandoned rental, he burns it to the ground, hoping that it is enough to stop William.
But, he still hears him… sometimes.

YA Psychological mystery/thriller
50,000 words
  1. JACK, 14, dirt poor, diagnosed with PTSD and medicated,  moves to a new state with his parents, CAROL and DAVID. The isolated rental, surrounded by jungle, is rundown and literally stinks.
  2. There are a few weeks left of the final term of school and Jack is forced to attend. He feels like an outsider and when he gets home, his attention is caught by the shed, shrouded in jungle in the back corner of his yard. He’s been banned from going anywhere near it. His best mate, TOM back in Canberra is ignoring his texts and he feels alone. The smell is still in the house, but he almost doesn’t notice it now.
  3. Christmas is over, a time that Jack hates, but he did receive a Meccano kit which he loves. Dad has been crawling around under the floorboards trying to find the source of the smell, with no luck. Bored, with still another four weeks of school holidays to endure, Jack’s attention is once more on the shed and he sneaks out to check it out. He has just uncovered the castle-like door, covered in studs, when Mum screams at him to come inside, she doesn’t know what’s out there.  Jack challenges her to be honest and admit it’s not ‘what’, it’s ‘who’.
  4. Jack’s back at the shed next morning after Dad says to his Mum,  ‘it couldn’t happen again. He’ll be safe.’ The shed is solid planks of wood and seems impenetrable. Then Jack discovers a box with a key. A deluge of rain drives him back to the house.  The box also holds a parchment with the invitation COME AND PLAY
  5. It’s still pouring next morning and Jack hears a voice demanding he try the key now. He’s worried mum will discover the voice is back and he’ll be on pills again. The key doesn’t work and the same three little words that almost drove him crazy when he was nine are back. Why? Who? Where? He couldn’t answer them then, but he will try to answer them now.
  6. Jack begins his search at the library, but the internet records don’t go back far enough to discover who buried the box. He visits MR BREEDON at the local realtors and explains he’s doing some research into the general history about the town. Breedon allows him access to his tenants files on the proviso that Jack treats them carefully. When Mum picks him up she has a puppy in the car. Jack names her Rosie.
  7. Rosie refuses to go into the backyard and Mum says she doesn’t much like the feeling out back either. He’s told mum he’ll be at the library, because he doesn’t want her questions, her paranoia if he explains his quest and his real destination.  He spends almost the whole day in Breedon’s basement, tracing the past tenants, making notes. All of them had kids. Breedon comes in and sees Jack’s water bottle open next to the files and he is furious. Jack shows the note to DELIA, the librarian. She identifies it as old vellum, but the ink used was manufactured in 2008.  She asks about the dots on  the back of the note. When Delia issues Jack with a library card, she is disturbed to learn that he lives at 172 Bligh Road – the Old West Place.
  8. When Jack wakes the next morning he thinks the dots might represent the studs on the door. As soon as mum goes out, after issuing paranoid instructions about his safety, he runs to the shed and presses the two which are slightly larger. When he turns the key, the door opens. Inside, shelves that run along the back wall are full of unopened Meccano kits that date back a century. He tries to take one out of the shed, but the door slams shut and a voice says, the Meccano stays here. He realizes he is being punked and screams bastards into the jungle. Mum races out to the backyard and herds him inside, petrified.
  9. Mum apologizes at breakfast next morning for her paranoia, but Jack can’t absolve her. Ever since Sammy, his twin, disappeared, she has been a demented protector. Jack scouts around the shed looking for signs of the boys who punked him, but can’t find anything. He ends up at a deserted swimming hole and goes for a swim.
  10. Jack decides that he’ll burn the fake meccano boxes in the shed, but he discovers they are real. He realizes this is not a prank, then he hears a voice – Sammy’s voice and he runs.
  11. It takes Jack a week to return to the shed. He heard Sammy once before and they put him on pills. But he knows Sammy was real. He waits all day to hear his brother’s voice again. But there’s nothing. He texts Tom about hearing Sammy, but Tom doesn’t believe him and Jack decides he will never contact Tom again.
  12. The vellum begins to flash, demanding Jack come and play. Jack begins one of the kits and the hours fly by in the shed. He feels almost happy as he leaves at the end of the day. He finally has somewhere he belongs.
  13. Long weekend and Dad and Jack spend the whole time fishing at the swimming hole. It’s the closest they’ve been in years. The smell, which had disappeared is back by the time the long-weekend is over.
  14. School starts and Jack decides middle of the road won’t cut it anymore. He wants choices and he’s going to change the way he works. Same with Mum. He may not be able to absolve her, but he appreciates her anyway. The smell is back with a vengeance and they decide to call Breedon (the real estate agent).
  15. The first week of school is good and Jack makes the soccer team. When he opens his desk drawer on the weekend he is almost blinded by the vellum. Come and Play has changed from vermilion to blood red and it is blazing.
  16. Jack returns to the shed and discovers that the crane he had half completed is a mess of bent metal and scattered nuts. He blames rats. He selects another kit. When he leaves, he covers it with a thick plastic box to protect it and decides he doesn’t need to know who wrote the note anymore. Breedon is there to check out the smell when he returns to the house. But the smell has disappeared.  Breedon wants to know the real reason that Jack was at his files.
  17. Jack is spending his spare time at the shed and has finished the crane. He wonders what to select next. A voice tells him to select the vintage car.  ‘Sammy,’ he says. But the voice apologetically tells him, it’s not Sammy, it’s William – a friend. William has provided the Meccano and now he is so in tune with Jack as they play together, that Jack almost thinks Sammy is back.
  18. Jack reveals to William that he has made a new friend at school, SYDNEY, and he senses immediately that William is not happy. He hopes it is just jealousy. He selects a new kit to build, but William orders him to return the kit to the shelf and pick another. Jack refuses and sees writing on the wall behind the kit. CECILIA WAS HERE ’44. When he goes to bed he remembers Cecilia’s name on one of the tenant’s leases in Breedon’s basement. Why was William so desperate for him not to see that message? Jack decides to talk to Sydney at school tomorrow.
  19. Jack confides nearly everything. The vellum, the shed, the Meccano – even William. The only thing he can’t get out is Sammy. He thinks Sydney believes him, but he’s not sure and feels ill. After school, Sydney questions him and takes notes and Jack is embarrassed. He knows how mental it all sounds and wishes he’d never told her anything.
  20. Jack avoids Sydney all week and on the weekend in the shed asks William about Cecilia. William is angry and Jack drops it.  Sydney comes out to visit and Jack shows her the vellum. She magnifies the dob of ink in the corner and sees it is W.W. in the tiniest script. Sydney tells Jack that she is cool with his story, his reality and she’s willing to help him with some research if he wants.
  21. Jack decides that he needs to answer the questions about Cecilia and William, maybe they’ll help the questions about Sammy fade. He and Sydney go to the library after school and when Delia mentions the West Place, Sydney realizes the WW might stand for William West. Delia tells them there is a plaque at the church with that name on it. Sydney and Jack begin a search of the tenants and they have no luck until they try the Shiptons from 2004. A news article appears which reports that John and Jane Shipton have reported their 13yr old daughter, Amy, missing.
  22. At school next day, Sydney tells Jack that she has been on the AFP site and Amy is still listed as missing. When Jack gets home the vellum is flashing intensely, Come out and Play an order. He ignores it.
  23. Friday and Sydney wants to visit the shed tomorrow. Jack angrily refuses and goes home sick. He unlocks the shed and the model he has been working on is destroyed, the plastic box shattered against the wall. Jack tosses the wreckage out the door. It doesn’t belong here, SHE doesn’t belong here.
  24. Monday at school, Jack doesn’t know what to say to Sydney. Finally he blurts the truth. William might hurt her. Sydney walks away.
  25. Sydney has avoided Jack all week. He is totally crushed. Then Sydney approaches him and says she has spent all week thinking and she believes she can handle William. Jack gives her the lightest of kisses. They agree to spend the day at the library tomorrow.
  26. Using historical sites, Sydney and Jack discover that Cecilia also disappeared and Sydney panics at the idea there is a serial killer on the loose. They do the math and decide that the duration between the two girls’ disappearances makes that highly unlikely, and even if there was a serial killer, he’d be at least 84 now. Jack wants to drop the whole thing, but Sydney says they can’t. Both kids lived at the West Place. He lives at the West Place. If there is some psycho out there, he or another kid might disappear. Sydney wants to get into Breedon’s basement to find the records for the other tenants, but Jack knows Breedon won’t let him near the files again. Sydney suggests a little breaking and entering tomorrow. Jack refuses. They visit the church to find the plaque for William West.  It has three lines. William West. 1883-1897. Missing but not forgotten. Three kids missing from the same house. But the time span is now over 120 years. Jack argues that there can’t be a killer. Just a horrible coincidence.
  27. Following weekend Jack decides to have a swim. Rosie refuses to come with him. The watering-hole is thirty metres wide and when he gets to the other side he notices a mountain of rocks, the peak almost breaking the surface of the water. It looks man-made. He hears William’s voice and wonders how he is out here. He has only ever been in the shed. When he returns to the shed, he tells William they have been investigating and asks if he is William West. William won’t answer. He calls Jack, JACKY and demands to know who has been investigating. Jack flees.
  28. At school on Monday, Sydney confesses she broke into Breedons, got the missing tenants names and stole the will of George William West. 172 Bligh Street has been willed to the West Family Trust, but there’s a caveat that the house can only be rented to families in need. At the library Jack and Sydney begin researching the other tenants and discover two more children have disappeared. One in 1907 and one in 1928.
  29. Saturday and Sydney is coming over for a swim. The smell is putrid in the house and Sydney mentions it. At the watering hole, although Jack is feeling sick he agrees with Sydney that they can’t leave the investigation any longer. They have to find some answers.
  30. Breedon comes over on Sunday and admits he can detect a smell. He suggests that Jack might have something to do with it and agrees to get pest control out to have a look. He tells Jack that he is missing a will from his files, but he will get it back one way or another.
  31. At the library, Delia confesses why she has misgivings about the West Place. When she first arrived in the town, 32years ago, a child was missing who’d lived at the West Place. Then, one of her favourite customers, Amy, disappeared. She too lived at the West Place. She’d spoken to the Police, but they said Amy was a runaway and there was no link between children missing 20 years apart.  Jack and Sydney now have 5 kids missing from the same address. Jack says bizarre coincidence. Sydney thinks it might be an intergenerational family of killers. They go to the police but are dismissed. Five children missing over the space of 120yrs is not an anomaly. They are given the statistics on runaways and told to stop wasting police time. The stats are convincing and they decide that it probably is a weird coincidence and they’re going to leave it at that.
  32. A month goes by. Jack’s relationship with William is restored, the smell in the house has gone and Sydney and soccer have never been better.  Jack keeps thinking about Breedon’s suggestion that he has something to do with the smell and he comes up with a bizarre theory which he decides to test.
  33. Even though they decided to leave it alone, Sydney has dug up one record which changes everything. She has found an intergenerational link from William West to now and it’s Breedon. It all fits. His family have been around since William went missing and Sydney’s been looking through the reference section in the library. He’s the only descendent from an original family still left in the town. They decide to go after him.
  34. Sydney devises a plan to connect Breedon with Amy and Jeremy, the last two missing kids.
  35. Jack has been testing out his theory about the smell and he’s right. He has ignored William for a week and the house smells putrid. Mum and Dad decide to seek advice from the rental tenancy authority to break the lease. Jack doesn’t want to go. They say they want him away from the shed. Something’s wrong with it. Jack rages and heads for the shed.
  36. Dad has written a letter to Breedon with grounds to leave. Jack is furious. They are trying to take everything off him – again. He and Sydney go to the library to interview Delia. They tell her they are doing a project about the missing kids and its effect on a small town. She is happy to recollect, but shocks them both when she insists that Breedon wasn’t in town when Amy went missing. Sydney says maybe it’s over and Jack agrees. But neither of them believe it.
  37. Mum tells Jack that they have successfully broken their lease and will be leaving at the end of the month. Jack is incandescent with rage and rushes out to tell William. But the reaction isn’t what he expected. ‘They all try and leave, but they never do,’ William says cryptically, then refuses to speak another word. Jack lies in bed and the answer to the missing children becomes sickeningly clear. It’s William.
  38. Jack tells Sydney that William has been killing the kids. She tells him that she snuck into the shed the day they went swimming and there is no William, there is no Meccano. Just some rusty piles of metal and an old shelf. She tells him she knows about Sammy, she knows about the pills. She has been talking to his parents. She is so sorry, but she has been so worried. He is her best friend and he needs help. Jack tells her she is dead to him and runs away.
  39. It’s Saturday morning and the house is quiet when Jack wakes up. He searches for Rosie but he can’t find her. He hears a tiny yap coming from the shed. When he bursts into the shed it is just as Sydney described and Jack’s head is exploding. He asks William where she is. William says dogs like to swim. When Jack gets to the water-hole he dives in headed for the other side. He sees the mountain of rocks and spots Rosie’s red collar jammed in it. When he dives, the rocks shift and he is sucked towards a cavern deep in the side of the bank. Skulls are peering from it. He can’t fight it. He is going to the light. To Sammy.
  40. Sydney rescues Jack
  41. Jack is in hospital for observation. It seems the whole town is there to celebrate his escape. The media is there too. Police divers have uncovered six children’s skeletons in the cavern. They attribute the deaths to accidents as a result of the very strong under-current reported by the divers. Jack knows it was no accident.
  42. Jack and his family are in a new rental. He likes the place. Likes the new mates down the street. Likes that he didn’t have to move schools. It is the weekend and Sydney will be here soon but he is not waiting for her, he is waiting for the newspaper. When it comes he reads the story about 172 Bligh Road being burned to the ground. Fire crews say the fire started in the small shed out back. Jack rubs the burn on his arm and wonders if that is enough to stop him.
  43. A year has gone by. It’s been a good year. Jack still hears him sometimes.

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Comments by other Members

Issy at 00:30 on 02 December 2016  Report this post
Wow! This is great! I couldn't wait to read it, and I will have another closer look, but congratulations,  full of action and mysteries, and a great climax, leading to a much happier ending of resolution of the psychological and ghostly threads. 

Will come back.

joydaly at 00:39 on 02 December 2016  Report this post
Thanks Barbara,

Synopses tend to ruin surprises, but I suppose they are valuable for readers who are trying to comment, chapter by chapter!!

You have given very positive feedback over the chapters and now with the synopsis, which is heartening - thank you.

Joy :)

Issy at 11:24 on 02 December 2016  Report this post

It's great, Joy. The storyline is all there, worked out in a lot of detail, and it is easy to see the psychological development.

I have been over the synopsis in a bit more depth this morning and here are my thoughts:

1) Sydney is a key character later in the book, and I think it would round it to have her mentioned at least once in the earlier chapters - perhaps at school. Maybe some attraction but Jack can't or doesn't know how or doesn't want to initiate a f riendship as he is so down on everything at that stage.Or maybe she gives a helping hand in some minor way. It could just be a mention in passing. I think that she needs to be established as a strong swimmer early on, also, perhaps the school is well known for both its swimmers and its soccer team.

2) I think more could be made of Rosie and her fears. Useful to have an animal character using different senses. Perhaps she could have a reaction to the vellum when she goes in Jack's room, also she goes crazy/ gets distressed when the smell is at its worst. I note that she doesn't like the swimming area, perhaps more could be made of that. In comparison when Jack and his dad goes fishing she comes along to, and is at her happiest in that part of the river. 

3) I wondered why the house was only let to families in need. There is a story behind this which I feel could enrich the William history - and perhaps made him bad? How did William die? Was it drowning?

4) How was Sammy murdered? I wondered if there are echoes that could be used to enhance the terrors - was it by drowning also, was his murderer ever found, has his murderer died?

5) The WW dot does bear out Jack's story but it is later revealed that Sydney doesn't believe Jack.

6) Why doesn't Jack want to leave the house - is he obsessed with William by that stage and believes that he is is friend?

7) The connection which William and Sammy have for Jack is a key one in my opinion. To start with I found it a little awkward, or even misleading that Jack identified the voice as Sammy's. But the more I thought about it, the more interesting the idea became. On the one hand, it makes sense that Jack is particularly vulnerable to ghosts as he was so very close to his deceased twin, and we also learn that he has heard Sammy from time to time. On the other hand, would he really assume that the voice was Sammy's - would it not feel as if it wasn't Sammy's? Is this aspect capable of development, such as he does continue to hear Sammy, and Sammy is warning him? Maybe Sammy is also material in the climax when Jack is rescued in some way. Jack perhaps hears his voice trying to direct him where not to go, until Sydney appears. 

At the end we understand that Jack still hears William's voice which is very creepy. Maybe that's the right ending, or maybe he continues to hear only Sammy?

8) I assume "The Crossing" is the working title. Possibly brainstorm some alternatives to bring out the scariness/creepiness of the story?  Come and Play comes to my mind.

Just my thoughts, which please ignore if they don't lead to something helpful. 50k words for this story - that's your tight writing style, which works well for being in Jack's head.  Good luck, got so much going for it!

joydaly at 12:18 on 02 December 2016  Report this post
Great suggestions Barbara, thank you so much for spending the time to pick through the synopsis.

1.  I particularly like the idea of mentioning Sydney when Jack first goes to school. Will incorporate that.

2.  Also like Rosie being more a part of the story.

3.  Only let out to families in need is a caveat of the original will for the property.  There were only five children who disappeared from the West place, but there were six skeletons discovered in the cavern. The reader can make up her own mind if the sixth belongs to William - I'm inclined to think that it did.

4.  Jack and his family never find out how Sammy died. He disappeared from the park and that was the end for all of them in a way. That is also why it is almost an obsession for Jack to find answers. Because he never found out who, why and where for Sammy.

5.  The WW which seems to be such a firm indicator of William, may not be. Jack reveals in a couple of chapters different aspects of his interest in calligraphy, including he has vermillion and also that he is adept at the art.

6.  Jack believes that William is his friend - maybe his only friend as the betrayals occur.

7. Great point.  In the previous draft I had a reflection by Jack on why Sammy's voice had changed and cut it. .Will reinsert the paragraph.

8.  Love the title COME AND PLAY. Have googled it and can't believe it isn't gone. So thank you, will take that as well!!

Such a great help and so appreciated, Barbara. Thank you once again.

Joy :)

andinadia at 11:15 on 03 December 2016  Report this post
Wow, Joy. This is going to be some ride. This is a novel with a great sweep!

I have some big questions. I think if you can find answers to them and tie them together it could be a really interesting novel.

My first reaction is, the narrative so far doesn't feel like it has a big enough canvass. At the start I'd have expected to see something of the school, the way the family tries to settle, what the parents actually get up to. I feel too much of the narrative so far has take place in the space between the house and the shed.

Second major point relates to William. Obviously he's imaginary. But will you give any clues as to why Jack has imagined him? What was the reason for Jack to hear those voices a few years back, soon after Sammy died? Is it a different reason or the same? Why different? Why is it William's voice now, not the previous voice? Why is it a third person voice, not Sammy's own voice? Are we possibly meant to understand that William is somehow an alter ego of Sammy? Did Wlliam really want to 'play' or was that just a trick? (If so, how does this connect to the earlier vistims?) I don't think you need to give answers to all these questions during the narrative but I do feel you need to have the answers clear in your own mind. The reader will definitely be searching for answers. I think the triangle of interest for the readers (because they are of the same age as the readers and because they are the most emotionally persuasive of the characters) will be Jack, William and Sydney. So we need to explore that triangle as much as possible. The more connection between William and Sydney, the better.

And closely related to this is ... if William has a significance in relation to Sammy, how is it that he also has a significance in relation to the new house that Jack has moved to and to the deaths of the children in the past? Why are all the victims children? Is William related to Sammy's death too? In which case he presumably is not an alter-ego of Sammy! This is a major challenge to my mind.

The fact of the murder of Jack's twin could have much more of an unsettling impact on everything. Was the murder unresolved? Was it random? Is there any resolution for the parents at the end?

Why is it that Sydney changes her mind about Jack, and comes to he rescue?

What is the role of Tom? I haven't been getting the feeling that his role is to show that Jack feels ignored, isolated. he just comes across as a not very close friend. It doesn't feel right when you say 'Jack decides he will never contact Tom again.' Unless you're trying to show him getting even more psychologically worse by ditching his only friend... but in that case, we need to see him as a genuine friend in the first place, and show their relationship deteriorate. Otherwise we have no emotional involvement.

'Reality is perception and perception can kill'. Powerful basis for the novel! Why is Willaim killing all these people down the ages? It's not at all clear. I think we need to feel the danger buidling up during the novel, rather than waiting till the end to see Jack at risk. Ch37 seems a bit late for Jack to realise William is a threat. And the way he comes to that conclusion isn't convincing. 

Is William a risk only to Jack, because he is in Jack's imagination, or to other people in the story too? In what way is jack similar to the previous victims?

I wonder whether you could insert a scene where Sydney is actually at risk. Maybe without it being totally clear that the risk is caused by William, but Jack might see it in those terms.

I think the above psychological dramas appear to be in danger of getting lost in what sometimes seems like a novel for pre-YA. To some extent this can be justified on the grounds that in some ways Jack is a little immature perhaps, as well as being geeky, with his passion for meccano. (When 'Jack tells her she is dead to him and runs away' he comes across as very immature)

The ending will need very careful handling. I would expect a possibly bigger scene. It feels like it might be a bit tame. Especially since he has been in that same water before, so obviously there were chances for William to strike earlier. Why has William decided to strike at this moment?

A 'thought experiment': I wonder whether the first person present tense might lead to the narrative being somehow smaller scale than this story merits. It also means you need to fill every waking moment, practically. Third person and past tense are more flexible. A thought, just a thought ... What would happen if you were you tell it through the eyes of William/Sammy? Of course, William doesn't exist, which would mean that in effect the story is being told by Jack but as if he is seeing things through William's eyes. Past tense. It would also mean you could give a bit more of the perspectives of other characters if you needed to, eg Sydney (because, being imaginary, he could be all-knowing). This is not a suggestion, just a thought!

Another thought experiment: what would happen to the narrative if the twin had only recently been murdered? And maybe was another reason for the move.

Detailed comments
‘it couldn’t happen again. He’ll be safe.’ - This feels a bit glib. Not the kind of thing one parent would say to another in such circmumstances. I know this is only a synopsis, but it's a warning light to be sure to weight the impact of the big events on everything the characters say and do.

I don't think the 'Why? Who? Where?' works. It's too tidy to be unsettling. And you need to start cranking up the unsettling at this point.

'The vellum begins to flash' - I don't know. I'm not sure about this. It doesn't seem to belong in a psychological thriller. Like 'changed from vermilion to blood red and it is blazing' too. Reminds me more of Darren Shan than Stephen King.

'the hours fly by in the shed' - I have a problem with watching Jack doing not much for hours on end. There was an earlier scene like this, when he was sitting in the shed. You could convey it maybe through reported speech, when he's telling someone?

I don't feel from this synopsis, just as I didn't from the chapters so far, that it's very logical for Jack to go to the library/estate agent for answers re the box. Once he has the key to the shed it's the shed that's interesting, not the box and its key. It's as if you want us to be more interested in the history of the house than in the mystery of the shed. Not likely, for me or for the YA reader! Now, if the voices were telling him to search for something, .... ;)

'It takes Jack a week to return to the shed.' - In that case, we need to see what Jack does in this week. Give us a sight of his school, maybe an early glimpse of Sydney? I don't think you can afford to let such a chunk of time just go by like that. Keep the plot moving. This is meant to be building tension.

'Jack reveals to William that he has made a new friend at school, SYDNEY' - This really doesn't feel right, as a reported event. I think we need to be there when he meets Sydney.

Ch19 feels like too much at once.

Ch41: 'They attribute the deaths to accidents as a result of the very strong under-current reported by the divers.' - Seems unlikely that they'd think this, especially as some of the deaths were relatively recent.


joydaly at 21:09 on 03 December 2016  Report this post
Thank you VERY much Andy,

This is such a thoughtful analysis.

The first point about the canvas is a good one. I have deliberately tried to make the canvas as limited and isolated and introspective as Jack. But will have a think about your reaction.

Second point.  Did you ever see the movie INCEPTION? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jun/05/christopher-nolan-finally-explains-inceptions-ending  If so, you will know that at the end of the movie, two totally different interpretations could be applied - each completely valid, and it has created much debate over the years between opposing camps. I have tried to achieve this with William's existence. I have had a few loyal  readers get to the end of my first draft - how they did it without poking their eyes out  is beyond me, but when they have arrived at the end, they have had diametrically opposed ideas about whether William was imaginary or real. I've tried to write it so that the concept of reality or imagination is entirely  subjective for both the MC and the reader. It is an interesting point about the triangle, because this is almost an anti-triangle. As the book progresses William pushes for a meeting, Sydney pushes for a meeting, but the common denominator Jack will never allow that to happen.

William has NO relationship to Sammy, other than the initial mistaken identification by Jack. He wants to play with Jack, give him something to do, somewhere to belong.

All the victims are children because they are the ones over the century who at one point, have gone swimming alone.
There are two interpretations for the reader. Their deaths are accidental drownings as a result of a permanent strong undercurrent that runs along the bottom of the river. Their deaths are murder by William, who never wants them to leave him. 

Yes, the murder of Sammy was unresolved. This is why the questions Why, Who, Where loom so large in Jack's mind. Not just because he has no closure about Sammy, but also because he blames himself and his mother for Sammy disappearing. This is dripped out through the book.

Jack rejected Sydney, she didn't reject him. So, just as once before she came out to see him at his house when he was emotionally wrecked, she does so again and saves him from drowning.

There is a scene coming - very subtle where Sydney is at risk - or that is the way Jack interprets it.

Jack and Sydney have been in the water before - but never to the bottom, near the underwater mountain, only ever skimming across the surface, and Jack has never rejected William before when he has been swimming.

Love your thought experiments - they lead me off into another idea for another book!!! Thanks Andy.

You are right about the vellum - I will tone that down.

I have written an early reference to Sydney into the first day at school as a result of Barbara's feedback, but I really like your idea that I could show him meeting Sydney real time a little earlier on and maybe just relating a little of that meeting to William.

"The undertow is the direction of water flowing beneath the surface of the river. These can be quite strong and can drown the unwary. The simplest ( easy to say) way to deal with it is to go with it rather than try to resist it. Then work away by going forward as opposed to fighting to go back. Unfortunately it can also pull the unlucky down in the process."
In rivers, undertows can exist permanently or seasonally, so I felt comfortable with the idea of an undertow existing beneath the placid surface and catching the kids, or at least that the police investigating would feel comfortable with the idea!
So.. going back to insert a chapter or two as a result of this feedback from you Andy. Thank you once again. I know that this amount of analysis takes ages, your generosity is just amazing. By the way, have you read We Were Liars?

Okay, off to write - THANK YOU

Joy :)


andinadia at 21:03 on 04 December 2016  Report this post
Thanks, Joy. I don't know Inception, but that sounds ambitious! It's as if you're creating a giant Rorschach test.

I think if you're going for deliberate complexity you might need to think hard about making sure Jack is a complex character emotionally, with perhaps a much more ambiguous relationship with his mum and also with the other characters too (including William).

Thanks to you I'm going to read We Were Liars!

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