- David Lloyd's Last Will, Hesba Stretton, 1870: "It’s mentioned that Mark lost a fiancé a decade ago when she fell off a cliff and he renounced marriage after that."
Is it just me or did anyone else snort? It makes it all sound so ridiculous. Yep, she fell off a cliff. In fairness to my summary, it sounds as stupid in the actual text. But, as a writer who struggles with writing synopses for her own work, I'm petrified of my plot sounding as contrived and melodramatic as that one. I've located a couple of these humorous summary sentences in my notes on other books.
- Robin Gray, Charles Gibbon, 1869: "Twenty years earlier McWhapple had been signed over property from Hugh Sutherland who it was suddenly rumoured had joined a conspiracy to overthrow the government."
- A Woman's Vengeance, James Payn, 1872: "Helen returns from the grave, confesses her sins then promptly dies."
If I ever write anything like that in a synopsis I want to hang up my writing cap immediately and retire to a life of solitude with cats. I may yet do that anyway, to be fair. One final unrelated note garnered from my novel notes: don't change the sex of a baby half-way through a book.
- A Life's Assize, Charlotte Riddell, 1871: "Joy gives birth to a baby girl (text later suggests it’s a boy)."