Monday, March 22, 2010

Lipstick in the Boardroom - a Summary

Though I book is far from complete, I have been researching publishers, and all of them want a summary, a resume and a couple of chapters. Since they all say they will take at-least two months to review that, I thought it made more sense to send that in now, and polish the manuscript later.

I couldn't find any guidelines to what an Indian publisher calls a summary, so I came up with a three page synopsis of the story. The biggest problem is that my story is almost all dialogue, and the summary has none at all, but I do hope it manages to capture at least some of my style.

Does it work for you? After reading this, and three chapters, would you want to ask for the rest of the story?

Lipstick in the Boardroom
"Ridiculous, isn't it? We work in the same office, have lunch together almost every day, yet find it so difficutl to schedule a girlie afternoon out!"
On the face of it, Udisha, Revathi, Malathi and Shefali have little in common except the fact that they happen to work in the same investment bank, and yet, they are always there for each other.

Udisha Sengupta’s boyfriend of several years, Rohit, is in the States doing a second MBA. He wanted to get married before he left, but she thought making him wait was the best way to ensure he came back to India at the end of the course. They are in what she calls an “open relationship” – they remain loyal to each other, without taking a vow of celibacy.
Tall, slim and beautiful, Revathi Srinivasan is ‘sort of’ engaged to Arun, a Silicon Valley nerd, whose family has ‘see her’ but who she’s never met. She spends most of her time avoiding him on Skype, and indulging in some harmless flirting with her colleague, Dipesh Mehta. Her parents think she is a good Tam Bram girl- they don’t know she’s been eating chicken and fish since her engineering college days.
Malathi Sinha (nee Thomas) is a single mother struggling to manage the emotional outbursts of a six-year old who wants a father in his life. Tremendously good at her work, she seems to attract the wrong bosses. But what bugs her most is the fear that she is failing miserably in discharging her duties as a mother.
In her struggle to balance the needs of her ten-year old twins, with her career, without compromising on her obsession for fitness, thirty-six year old Shefali Arora knows she is short changing her marriage. She is the person everyone turns to in a crisis, but she’s run out of things to say to her own husband.
Udisha is instantly attracted to Malathi’s cousin, Mandy, when she meets him at a children’s party. When he sends her packing after making love to her, she resolves to have nothing more to do with him. But she keeps bumping into him in unexpected places, and, despite herself, finds herself attracted to him.
When Rohit calls off their relationship because he feels a moral obligation to marry the woman he impregnated after a one-night stand, she turns to Mandy for comfort. Despite knowing that his family expects him to marry the girl they picked out for him years ago, Mandy can’t stop himself from falling in love with Udisha. She cares for him, but is not sure if she will ever get over Rohit, so asks him not to call of the other match.
Revathi’s parents dote on Arun, but his over-enthusiasm brings out the worst in her. She’s put off by his attempts to flirt with her on-line, and does her best to avoid him in cyberspace. Revathi’s repelled by his antiquated views on women in the workplace, and makes no effort to conceal her disgust. He tries to stir up trouble with her parents, but she manages to sidestep the issue.
Meanwhile, after they exchange their first kiss, her relationship with Dipesh crosses over from harmless flirting to something more tangible. Revathi realizes she is falling in love with Dipesh, but is scared of committing herself to a relationship she knows is not sustainable. Dipesh doesn’t press his case, but advices her to call off the match with Arun since he seems fundamentally unsuitable for her.
Malathi struggles to understand Ayan Bhattacharya, her new boss. He’s smart, intelligent and easy to get along with. He understands her struggle to balance her personal and professional lives, and often goes out of his way to be friendly. Yet, he clams up when she tries to draw him out on his family, and is often downright rude to her when she mentions his wife or child.
The mystery is solved, when after accompanying Malathi and her son to the Science Museum, Ayan tells her that he lost his wife and daughter in a road-accident two years back. She, in turn, tells him about her failed marriage, and the two grow closer than their professional relationship would allow.
Shefali’s repelled by what she considers the unwanted attention of a man at the gym, but also slightly flattered that someone finds a “middle aged mother of two” attractive. She meets the man again in a purely professional capacity, and despite her initial hesitations, they hit it off. She’s flattered when he asks her out to dinner, but turns down the invitation. She knows her marriage is not going anywhere, and doesn’t want to complicate things by introducing a new element to her rather fragile equation with her husband.
They bump into each other when she is out clubbing with her friends, and though she reluctantly agrees to a dance, she’s repelled by his obvious advances, and tells him, in no uncertain terms to get off.
Revathi has a major showdown with Arun over some pictures she put up on Facebook, and is relieved when he calls of the match. She declares her feelings for Dipesh, and they eventually win her parents over. Udisha forgives Rohit and takes him back when he comes crawling back to her after he finds out that the other woman was lying and that the child is not really his. Malathi and Ayan decide to get married as soon as one of them gets a new job so they don't share a boss-subordinate relationship at work, and after twelve years of marriage, Shefali finally takes off on a “honeymoon” to Europe with her husband.

The cover is by the immensely talented Joris.

I sent him a three line brief, but forgot to give him the title, so he went by the original title that Hart gave him. I had changed the title three times after that to make it more accurate, but after seeing the cover realised the original title still works best.



Ann Elle Altman said...

This is my suggestion: make the first line more powerful. The fact that four friends share an office doesn't draw me in enough.

I think most summaries do not include much dialog but I'm all for changing the way summaries work.

Now, I'm no expert in summaries so you can ignore my comment if you wish.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

Thank you, Ann. Every bit of feedback is welcome. I am so tempted to do something slightly gimmicky - like do the summary in dialogue, or in drabbles.

And yes, that makes sense.

Doli said...

I'm a bit confused. If you reveal all the suspense in the summary, then why would the reader buy the book? I think you need to leave a little suspense? I'm just an avid reader and that's what I look out for in a book. Suspense :)

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ann - not so much dialogue and don't give away the whole plot.

So excited for you about your book!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Doli - absolutely right. I like the build-up of suspense too, and wouldn't buy a book if the entire story is known. But I think publishers need a detailed description, before they decide if they want to take a look at the entire book or not.

@ Fiona - on the blurb, never. And thanks.

dipali said...

And now I'm waiting for The Book!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Dipali - as soon as I am done polishing it, you shall have it, along with a badge that says "I read books before they are published"!

dipali said...

That sounds great! Thanks.

Serendipity said...

go for it :)
good luck..!!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Serendipity - your name is my favourite word!


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