So I entered a little pitch contest, and actually had two agents ask me to query them! Aaaaggghhh! Luckily this site has gotten my query in good (at least much better than it was) order, and I'm hoping I can beg some quick assistance for my synopsis as well. I'm happy to reciprocate, it might just have to wait until after the weekend.
I'm a little concerned that it's a bit long at around 1500 words (did a quick edit already to get it down from 2k) when I hear it should be closer to 1000 -- but I didn't see anything on either agent's site about expected length.
Anyway, hope you guys and gals can help me out here. Again, I'm happy to take a look at your synopsis or query in return! Thanks!
Betty Favrot, a young nurse who’s much happier solving other people’s problems than her own, finds herself stuck in an abusive marriage. She receives a call and learns that her estranged mother has passed away, leaving her a modest inheritance. She leaves her Atlanta apartment with the intention of never returning — even though her husband has threatened to kill her if she ever tries to leave him.
Betty arrives at her childhood home in Jena, Louisiana with only a small travel bag and a half-empty bottle of her husband’s favorite whiskey that she took out of spite. She plans on staying in town only long enough to sell the house and finalize a divorce but quickly forms a bond with her older next-door-neighbor, Pearl Louise Pickett, over glasses of lemonade and movies starring local-girl-turned-movie-star Gabrielle Richards.
Pearl, also a nurse, coerces Betty to visit her at the small medical center where she works and tries to entice Betty to join the staff. As Betty tries to decline, the hospital’s big secret comes waddling down the hall: a very pregnant Gabrielle Richards. She’s returned to her hometown so her first child can be delivered by the same doctor that brought her into this world.
When they are back home, Betty tells Pearl she can’t stay, and Pearl breaks down crying. Pearl explains that she’d ordered some extra tests in secret — she wanted to ensure Gabrielle had a perfect delivery — and discovered the baby will be born with a deadly genetic defect. Pearl can’t tell anyone at the hospital or she’ll lose her job.
Pearl enlists Betty in a plan to provide Gabrielle with a healthy baby girl — even if it isn’t her own. Betty takes the job at the hospital and is introduced to a teenager named Allison that’s due to deliver a baby girl right when Gabrielle is due. Allison doesn’t want the child and is giving it up for adoption. Pearl wants Betty to help switch the two little girls right after they are born.
Betty refuses, but after meeting Gabrielle in person she surprises herself by accepting. Gabrielle is a truly wonderful person, and the chance to fix her problems without her even knowing she has one is impossible for Betty to pass up.
Things get complicated when a private investigator starts snooping around the hospital. The PI, Brandon Forstall, is attracted to Betty, but the nurses worry that his attention may thwart their plans. Pearl convinces Betty to go out with Brandon to figure out why he’s there. Betty reluctantly agrees, and finds he’s in town investigating a murder that happened in New Orleans.
Betty spends her days sipping lemonade with Pearl, spending time with Brandon, and being surprised by how happy she is in her new life. But a visit from the local police snaps her back to reality. The sheriff tells Betty that her husband may have beaten a man half to death in a town in Alabama and it looks like he’s on his way to find her. With Brandon willing to help protect her, Betty refuses to run.
When she’s away from Pearl, Betty starts to dread Gabrielle’s due date. She’s relieved when the starlet goes into labor early. But her relief is short-lived when she hears that Allison — who just left after a checkup — is rushing back to the hospital also in labor.
Betty almost backs out of the plan at the last instant, but Pearl convinces her it’s “God’s plan”. Betty and Pearl switch the newborns without anyone the wiser.
The two nurses return to Betty’s house to celebrate. Their celebration is cut short by Betty’s husband. Pearl leaves the two to talk, and Betty realizes that he plans to move back in with her. She pushes back and has him cowed until he spots his bottle of whiskey. He knocks Betty down and raises the bottle to bash her head in. Pearl appears behind him and strikes him repeatedly in the head with a shovel, killing him. Betty passes out on the floor.
Betty wakes to find her husband wrapped in a rug. Pearl has a plan to dump him and his car in an old quarry lake. Brandon arrives, hammering on the door, frantic after seeing the husband’s car. Pearl tells Betty to get rid of him. She tells Brandon her husband signed the divorce papers, then kisses him and asks him to take her away.
Betty wakes the next morning in Brandon’s hotel without any memory of the night they spent together. Brandon has to return to New Orleans — something about the suspect drugging the victim — but gives Betty a ride to work first. At the hospital, Betty confronts Pearl about her memory loss. Pearl claims that she gave Betty anti-anxiety pills, and that plus the whiskey caused her blackout. Pearl angrily tells Betty that she’s just as liable for her husband’s murder as she is.
Betty suspects Pearl isn’t telling the truth and conspires to get her blood tested at a different hospital — claiming it’s her husband’s. While she’s there, Betty spots Pearl causing a commotion at what turns out to be the adoption coordinator’s desk.
Back at work, Betty learns a vial of Pitocin — which induces labor — disappeared from the storeroom. She realizes that Pearl induced Allison’s labor so she’d give birth at the same time as Gabrielle. She also learns that Allison now plans on keeping the baby.
At home, Betty receives a call from the doctor that tested her blood. He found a strange and unhealthy mixture of antidepressants and rare drug called burundanga — which makes someone susceptible to suggestion.
Brandon calls next. He explains that the murder he’s investigating is related to someone forging documents in order to adopt the illegitimate child of a basketball star. The victim stopped the adoption, and was killed as a result. His source described someone that looks like Pearl.
Betty realizes that Pearl planned to take Gabrielle’s baby for herself all along. As she explains this to Brandon, the phone cuts out. Betty feels pain in her neck and finds Pearl standing behind her with hypodermic needle. Betty passes out.
Betty wakes tied to a bed inside Pearl’s house. Pearl admits the plan was always about her ending up with the “perfect child”, but she never wanted to hurt Betty. Gabrielle’s baby was perfectly healthy, but she told Betty it would die so she’d help with her plan. She admits to being the murderer in Brandon’s case, but claims that God was behind her failure. He wanted her to wait for Gabrielle’s child.
As Pearl is about to leave to take Gabrielle’s baby from Allison, Brandon arrives. He hears Betty and rushes to help. Before he can free her, Betty shoots him. Pearl leaves Betty with the body.
Betty frees herself — Brandon had untied one hand before getting shot. She hides in a crawlspace and passes out. When she wakes, Pearl’s gone and the house is in flames. Betty rushes home and takes her husband’s car — with his dead body in the trunk. She arrives at Allison’s home and sees Pearl shoot Allison in the driveway. She tries to run Pearl down but turns at the last second when she sees that Pearl is holding a baby carrier. They fight, and Betty overpowers Pearl and knocks her senseless.
Betty calls the cops but decides to take care of Pearl herself. She leaves the baby with Allison’s mother, who Pearl knocked out. Betty puts Pearl in the trunk with her husband and heads off to the quarry that Pearl told her about. As she’s about to roll the car into the lake, Pearl springs out of the trunk and they fight again, ending up inside of the car as it rolls towards the edge of the quarry. Betty is able to knock Pearl out and leap from the car as it rolls over the cliff.
Betty is found wandering the side of a highway and taken in by the police. She wakes up in the hospital with the sheriff and her co-workers waiting to ask her questions. Based on what they saw and what witnesses reported, they believe that Betty’s husband rescued her as well as Allison’s baby, then drove off with an unconscious Pearl. Betty had been ready to tell them everything but instead lets them believe their version is true, letting her husband disappear as a hero.
Betty leaves town but stops at Allison’s house, where Gabrielle’s real child is being taken care of by Allison’s mother. She plans on telling her the truth, but as she drives by the house she sees Allison’s boyfriend and his mother with the baby. The picture of them together seems perfect, so she drives away without anyone else knowing what really happened.