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The Three Wrongs

by dadzie 

Posted: 22 January 2007
Word Count: 775
Summary: This is just the brief synopsis for the book.

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The Three Wrongs


The three wrongs follows soon-to-be bankrupt James Neill fighting and then using circumstance to commit, what he considers as being, the perfect crime by making a shocking ‘reality’ film.

James discovers a schoolbook on a park bench. Inside is a ghost story called “The Three Wrongs” about a young girl who is killed in an accident but is not allowed into heaven until she rights three major wrongs she had committed in her life. So she comes back to earth as a ghost to correct the wrongs. James fantasizes about creating the film and a dream shows him the path to do this. The writer, twelve year old Claire O’ Connell, unwittingly becomes central role in his film.

The book is set into three main parts with timelines running adjacent. The first part, written first-party and present tense, follows the making of James’ film and all the thought process that develop as a result. You really get into the mind of the character and often feel sympathy with him, even through committing his crimes - he’s a normal guy whose back is against the wall, which is why it’s so shocking in parts.

James captures Claire and befriends her to find out three wrongs that she committed in her own life. He starts to feel an attachment to her but his plan is to kill her and go about to emulate her ghost, using his alter ego to film the reactions to the people affected by the righting of her wrongs – having conned his way into several houses (including Claire’s) by convincing families that his company is making a reality TV show. Claire’s death occurs through a fit of rage and circumstance fully opens doors for James in order for him to make his film. James thinks, as the reader does, that he has got away with it, until he sees Claire’s Father on his land. Claire’s real ghost has led him to James.

The second part of the book is Claire’s parent’s story about what happened. As James emulates one ghost, Claire’s real ghost is leading Claire’s Father to the truth. In this part of the book you realise just how ironic so many of the incidental happenings in the first part of the book had such a big effect on circumstance without James realising. This part of the book is the real film as Claire’s parents tell the tale to Hollywood maverick Marcus Ritchie. What becomes so apparent is that you realise how many of the clues lie in the past – indeed going back years beforehand.

This is what is so disturbing to the reader because it’s so realistic you have to get your head around the connotations: Did Claire’s ghost exist before her physical death – if so was she killed by her own ghost?

The third part of the book is very short, just three pages and is Claire’s original story. Here you realise how Claire had prophesised her own destiny without even James realising how apt it would all end up being. It adds further fuel to the “Chicken and the Egg” scenario which gets created in the book.

The epilogue to the book has another massive double-twist and this is what will make the book so compelling – it’s a loop-round –– The only question unanswered by James’ actions to Claire’s Father is how James discovered the book in the first place – The epilogue finds Michael in an identical situation to James and the book ends there with the reader looping round to the beginning and answering the other unanswered questions about how circumstance is able to lead the path it does. Thus the “Chicken and the egg” scenario starts all over again. It certainly makes the reader think.

Geographically the book is set within a fictitious town of Tensfield within the Lake District area of England but many of the other places are real. James makes the film in the Glencoe area of Scotland and I have tried to keep much of the aesthetic feel and beauty of his surroundings as I can, even allowing the occasional historic reference. Despite the disturbing storyline I have tried to capture beauty as a running theme:- beauty of the countryside, physical beauty, beauty within the making of James’ film and even beauty in Claire’s death sequence.

I am also in the latter stages of compiling a soundtrack to the book with beauty being the main theme. It’s a juxtaposition of emotion and content and I would hope that the book, especially with the music part of the overall package, would move any reader.

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Comments by other Members

Nik Perring at 14:38 on 22 January 2007  Report this post
Well done for uploading. Here are a few thoughts:

I'll be honest - it sounds really quite compelling, but there were a few bits that I didn't quite get.

I don't quite see why your main character (MC) would have to kill the girl. Could he not just make the film with an actress? I'm sure it would make more sense when read in the context of the story, but here it doesn't quite make sense.

The best thing to do for feedback (if you want it, of course) would be to upload the beginning of the story.

As I said it sounds compelling (and ghosts and such are right up my street) so I hope to be able to read more soon.


PS A soundtrack sounds like an interesting idea. I don't think it's been done before (and I'm not sure if a publisher would be keen to go into anything with a record label) but it's certainly an interesting idea. Maybe worth setting it aside for an audio book!

Hope I've helped.

PPS If you want feedback on this as a synopsis you'd pitch to an agent then I'd suggest having a nosy over in the Synopsis and Outline Group.

dadzie at 14:47 on 22 January 2007  Report this post
Thanks Nik, I hadn't noticed that group. I would post chapter samples (see my post on the newbies forum - I had a technical query). Yes, in the contaxt of the book it makes sense. The MC could not have used an actress because it was always supposed to be a 'reality' film, documenting his crimes. I did toy with the idea of the reader believing she was killed only to realise that she was alive at the end of the book but I couldn't get my head around it, since it was her death that awakened her own ghost.

I will visit the synopsis forum now.

Thanks once again for your help.

Nik Perring at 16:28 on 22 January 2007  Report this post
No probs.

Looking forward to reading it soon.

When you do upload samples it'd be helpful if you could start with the first. Sorry if that sounds patronising but it's better said sooner!



redcoat at 13:09 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Well that’s certainly a very interesting idea, and I sympathise with your impulse to examine cause and effect and relationships through time. At first reading (and I will think more about it) I’m struck by the extreme difficulty of pulling it off successfully. You’ve got to balance the two main portions of the story very carefully, and I’m quite anxious about the idea that you intend effectively to repeat the narrative (if I understood right), effectively telling the story twice albeit from different perspective; do you think you could relate both versions at the same time? Using different narrative voices could compartmentalise the text adequately, and you wouldn’t be trying the reader’s patience by saying, effectively “right, that’s what you thought was happening, but now we’re going back to the beginning to fill in what I haven’t been telling you”

There’s another challenge, which I imagine you recognise, in making James, the child abductor and murderer, in any way sympathetic, but I’ll not pre-judge your skills as a writer – I’m sure it’s possible.

Something else was bothering me. If Claire is only 12, I’m wondering what wrongs she may have committed might be so dreadful that their correction would be worth making a film about. Again, you may have excellent things in mind. And I think Claire’s actual story ‘what she wrote’ should be at the beginning.

I just want to share something I’ve noticed about my own work. I’ve noticed that I tend to try to achieve dramatic effect quite often by withholding of information, or by misdirection of the reader and a subsequent twist. These are both legitimate techniques I think, but can be overdone. The structure you’ve outlined seems to rely greatly on layers of revelation and internal reference, so it might be worth making sure that you are not spending too much effort on setting up that “Ahh, I see” moment and thereby missing other creative opportunities.

All told, well done for having got this far - its easy enough to go noodling off into actually writing without actually working out where the story’s going (I’ll put my hand up to that one). I hope you’ll upload some excerpts if you have them, since I think it would help others to evaluate your plan if they knew the ‘tone’ you’re going for.



dadzie at 13:38 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Actually, you have some really valid points there. I think I have the balance and flow just about right but then as I have the plot in mind, it is easy for me to say "ah yes but that happens because..." Most readers will not read the book in one go, so they may well lose important information first time round. I did try and combine the two - maybe in the way James Patterson does in "Cradle and all" but I felt it lost impact and the element of surprise was taken.

I do like the idea of starting the book off with Claire's original story though. The reason I haven't is because it is grammatically as a twelve-year old would write and I thought publishers would be horrified!

The main battle with my conscience through the whole book is how 'human' the emotions of the main character are. It's only as you read further and further into his thoughts you start to realise how unstable he really is. I have rewritten the first part several times to make it work, fortunately the person I use to bounce ideas off with this book now feels I have this balance right but I am still unsure.

For me, the problem is chapters two and three there as there is little action, more 'build up' and though the book explodes later on, gaining pace, I think the slow start can put people off. The problem I have is that I have run out of idea son how to combat this - because the balance between part 1 and 2 needs to be maintained all the time, continuity being so important.

I will take on board your thoughts tonight when I get a quiet moment.

I appreciate your thoughts.


Nik Perring at 13:49 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
The reason I haven't is because it is grammatically as a twelve-year old would write and I thought publishers would be horrified!

I disagree. Have a look at 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold. In that the whole story's told from the POV (point of view) of a dead girl of a similar age to your character.


Nik Perring at 13:59 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Just to expand on that a little, just because you're writing from a 12 yo's POV doesn't mean you have to make her sound like a 12 yo. It's what she does and how she thinks that define her age and character, and not how it's written.

Eg - first para of the book:

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6th, 1973. In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me, white girls with mousy brown hair. This was before people of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back when people believed things like that didn't happen."

Well worth a read if you want to get an idea of how someone has successfully tackled this. And it's a really great book.


dadzie at 14:23 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
I'd be very interested to read that, I'll check it out in Borders tonight.

dadzie at 14:45 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Further to your comments redcoat, I've just been digesting them a while. The three wrongs that Claire made - one was major (as far as injustice to her Father) and other two minor - you're right, they couldn’t be major - I concentrate on the 'knock-on effect' of these. James (the MC) creates the illusion that Claire's ghosts has righted these wrongs in the eyes of Claire's family and friends.

Yes I think the twists at the end of the book work as a direct result of misleading - or withholding information but you are right, there are a number of creative moves I could make without possibly having to layer too much (one in particular might actually work to strengthen a weak link).

Thanks again, I'll give this thought.

JenDom at 20:33 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Hello Glenn/dadzie and welcome to this group

Well you certainly have a daring and very wicked premise here in your synopsis. I take it the book is finished? It would be interesting to read a chapter here perhaps as a teaser rather than the synopsis?

I am going to surmise that this is already written and so have all the various plotlines sorted and all the questions raised and answered. It would be nice [that's a terrible word but I can't think of any replacement at the moment! It's too cold!] if some of the answers are offered here too! E.g. what exactly are the crimes? Who is Michael and why does James want to emulate Claire's ghost - why does he want to commit this perfect crime and why does he have "his back against the wall"? I may be wrong so I apologise now, but I thought a synopsis should not have any mysteries left, ie. all information are stated so as not to keep the publisher/agent guessing. I may be wrong though, so just ignore this if I am!

Anyway good luck with finding the audio to accompany this story. And if you do feel inclined to, I would very much like to read at least the first few paras of your first chapter.


dadzie at 22:20 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Hi Jen. Yes the book is written. I shall put some samples up hopefully tomorrow. I didn't really know how much information to put into the synopsis, this a good point - do you feel that a publisher would need these sort of questions answered within the synopsis? I shall try and rewrite it within the next few days and post it on the synopsis group, that way I can use this group to put up chapter teasers.

Nik Perring at 23:06 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Dadzie, I'll not go into too much detail re synopses here because a) it's late and I'm tired, and b) because I think that's a question best left for the Synopsis Group.

But to give you an overview...

I think this is not consice or clear enough for a synopsis. Synopses need to be sharp and professional. They should, in general, show the agent/publisher what happens in your story, the conflict (ie what the MC has to overcome) the plot, the important information (ie that which moves the plot forward and shows characte developement) and the conclusion. It also needs to show that you (as the writer) have been able to handle these and tell them well, in a interesting manner, and convey the (point of the) story to the agent/pub.

A synopsis should also contain information such as word count, genre, who the story is aimed at (read: who the publishers will be selling it to - not forgetting it is an industry) and (on some occasions) why you're the person to write it.

The most important thing(s), I think, are to show that you can handle the sory. I think, and this is only my opinion, that the shorter and more consice, the better. Don't forget that agents receive hundreds of mss a week - it needs to grab their attention, and hold it. General feeling within the industry (and this differs from agent to agent) is that it should be no shorter than one side of A4 (single-spaced) and no longer than a few pages. Have a look at individual agents' guidelines for a better idea. Incidentally, the one I did for my novel was about four paragraphs long.

As I said earlier (though that seems like a long time ago now!) I think for synopsis help you'd do best to join the group and post this there.

Ooh and...

and this is what will make the book so compelling

NEVER, EVER say anything like this! Agents do not like to be told things like this! Ever. They will decide if the story's compelling or not (and, to be fair, the book should sound compelling by this stage anyway). Of course at times they get it wrong, but telling them things like that will only get their back up, and that's something I would strongly advice against!

Looking forward to the teaser chapters and teh synopsis. If you need any synopsis help, or if there's something you can't find in the synopsis group then give me or Dee a yell.

Hope this has helped.




Sorry about the typos!

dadzie at 23:11 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Thanks Nik, good advice. Very productive day today, I shall go to bed now and and think (sleep can wait).

JenDom at 23:24 on 23 January 2007  Report this post

Yes, as Nik explains, and from what I've learned so far, a synopsis to an agent/publisher should be a straightforward affair as in no teasers, no adjectives or platitudes etc. A good exercise [just google how to write a good synopsis for other pointers] is to summarize each chapter, then summarise the summaries!

Anyway, look forward to your uploaded chapters.


Nik Perring at 23:29 on 23 January 2007  Report this post
Did you get chance to have a look at that book in Borders by the way?

JenDom at 08:59 on 24 January 2007  Report this post

You have RSI? Oh dear. Sorry to hear that. :(

Take care anyway.



p.s. followed your link to your book: it looks great!
I got a nephew whose birthday is coming up: will be 10 years old and he is so having this as a pressie!*g*


Nik Perring at 09:48 on 24 January 2007  Report this post
Thanks Jen. Hope he enjoys it!

The RSI seems to be easing now (after doing minimal tyoing for a week). Looking forward to getting back to writing, let me tell you!



dadzie at 14:53 on 24 January 2007  Report this post
First time I've had a chance to get to the computer all day so I'll have to upload the chapters tomorrow. I will work on the synopsis tonight, I have re-phrased it in my head already and actually found an earlier synopsis where I included several summaries.

I'll get round to becoming full member too as I feel I can pitch my tent here and make use of the barometer to test the conditions out there in that big publishing world!

redcoat at 17:06 on 24 January 2007  Report this post
Looking forward to the samples. I'm glad that you are getting value from this group, and hope that out inputs are helpful. Actually you've inspired me to attempt a synopsis myself, not that the book is anything like written, but just as an exercise.



Forbes at 14:38 on 25 January 2007  Report this post
Hi Dadzie

This my first attempt at feedback, for anyone! Here goes.

I liked the overall premise, BUT I had real problems with the 12 year old girl part. It sounds creepy and has peadophile overtones. Sorry to be this negative.

Does she HAVE to be 12 ? Can't she be older - 20 or 22 ish? young student, imature, shy, loner. All ways to get the inocence without the pead element.

I understand, I think, the dramatic mechanism - but as a punter I would not buy a book about the murder of a 12 year old.

Well just a few thoughts, and another point of view. Good luck with the synopsis and with selling it.


dadzie at 16:09 on 25 January 2007  Report this post
Extremely important point Forbes and the main reason I have been battling with my conscience over it. The story itself can only work with a schoolgirl/schoolboy. There are no sexual connotations in the book and I have had many discussions about this with people close to me but they all agree I've handled it as well as I possibly could.

One of the reasons I held back on doing anything with the book (I actually wrote in Sept 2003) was that the Soham Murder trial began the day after I finished writing the book and it was definitely NOT the right time to try and push a book like this. The book in someway was shelved for the best part of 3 years but it's been family and friends (and my old bank manager) that have persuaded me to actually push the book properly. Also I have in mind the plot for two more books that I would love to have the opportunity to write but can not justify the time until I feel that I have made progress (or at the very least learned lessons) from The Three Wrongs.

Again, I have been so busy at work today I have not had a chance to put up the chapters yet but I will do (I don’t have the book on my works computer you see).

Nik Perring at 16:46 on 25 January 2007  Report this post
Just to add my two penneth AGAIN! I really wouldn't worry about the fact that she's twelve AT ALL.

Even if something does have peadophilic overtones (which I don't think this does) - so what? It's a work of fiction and nothing for the writer (who, in your case, admits to it not having) to be ashamed of.

From a cynical wanting to create sympathy/emotion writing point of view - having a young, possibly vulnerable girl at the story's centre can very much count in the story's favour in that it'll help (if treated right and written well) give the reader cause to care for her.

Remember - you're writing fiction; not reflecting your own fantasies.

As I mentioned before, have a look at THE LOVELY BONES. I don't think anyone would have any issues with that despite the book dealing with a dead girl recounting the story of her rape and murder. It's actually one of the most tender books I've read.



PS I'll try to read your upload before the week is out, Forbes. Welcome to the group.

JenDom at 22:25 on 25 January 2007  Report this post
Adding my two pennies worth too:

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

If it's written beautifully with passion, craft, intelligence, wit and depth, then any topic, any theme no matter how controversial, is fair game. I agree with Nik, we are talking fiction here, we are talking disciplined imagination within literary techniques. Self censorship should not even come into this.


Murphy at 15:45 on 27 January 2007  Report this post
Hi Dadzie,

I guess working in the music trade inspired the soundtrack idea.

I've not much to add to what's already gone before and I think Nik's words on the "synopsis" seem about right to me. It does seem a mix of you summarising/telling us the plot which is fine and some sales type speak - which if it goes anywhere should be short, snappy and in the covering letter. I, by the way, am atrocious at synopses.

I haven’t got any problems with the premise or the 12 year old girl. If it’s well written, it’s well written.

Look forward to reading a few thousand words if you can post them sometime.

I notice on the WEB site the book's already got some interest from a publisher so good luck with that.

(Nik: I shall order your book for a young friend of mine. I'm not sure how he'd get on with HJTC, TMOL and TC though.)

Nik Perring at 18:05 on 27 January 2007  Report this post
Thanks Murphy! Hope they enjoy. And if you're doing that you could order TC, TMOL or HJTC as a treat for yourself!


JenDom at 21:26 on 28 January 2007  Report this post

Acronyms are not my strongest point1



JenDom at 21:26 on 28 January 2007  Report this post

Acronyms are not my strongest point!




NOW! I have no idea how that got posted twice.



I lie - I know how that happened 2x!
Cat sat on keyboard.. :-)


Nik Perring at 22:11 on 28 January 2007  Report this post

Referring to books by other wwers - the ones which seem to show up on recommended purchases on amazon when you look at my book, IMARLNWDYD! :)

Taking Comfort, by Roger Morris; The Mathematics of Love, by Emma Darwin; and High John the Conqueror by Jim Younger. All, as you would expect, are ace!


JenDom at 22:55 on 28 January 2007  Report this post

Ta for that!

So long as people don't start speaking in txt language then I'm a happy bunny!



Nik Perring at 22:57 on 28 January 2007  Report this post
Ha ha! Exactly!

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