Saturday, October 13, 2007

Synopsis 8

There is a legend among space-workers that when someone dies during the building of a starship that ship will be cursed. When a mechanic is crushed beneath the new engines during construction, the owners of The Nebula Dream hush up the incident. Still word gets out among space-workers that the ship is cursed... [And? No one is willing to fly on it?]

NICHOLAS JAMESON (Nick) knows his military career in the Consolidated Star Guard is over. He’s been ordered to report to Sector Hub ASAP and the quickest way there is on the maiden voyage of the luxurious space-liner The Nebula Dream. The only good thing about the trip is when he meets fellow passenger MARA, a beautiful and no-nonsense interstellar business woman. [When you've been in the military and now you're cruising on a luxury liner, there's got to be more than one good thing about the trip.] Before Nick has a chance to ask her out, though, the Nebula Dream collides with an uncharted asteroid field. [When you ask someone out on a bus, you figure she probably lives in the same city as you. When you ask someone out on a space liner, you're lucky if she lives on the same planet as you.]

On his way to an escape pod Nick encounters KHEVAN, a D’vannae brother, one of an order of lethally trained holy men. [I don't want any job that requires training that's lethal.] Nick and Khevan meet Mara and help her save two trapped children. After discovering all the lifeboats are gone, the group heads for the bridge in hopes of getting some answers and some help. On the bridge Nick realizes the ship has taken a shortcut through enemy territory in an attempt to make up time after various ship malfunctions. No distress call has been sent. Nick’s party and the survivors in the lifeboats are stranded and at the mercy of the Mawreg, who will undoubtedly come to investigate the incursion.

Nick’s party retrieve [If "party" is getting a plural verb, why didn't "group" get one last paragraph?] a communication device from the hold that Nick hopes to use to call for rescue. They manage to flee the Dream in a small cutter and rendezvous with a nearby freighter. [Luckily there was a freighter also going through enemy space to make up time.] Nick tells Mara he needs to return to the Dream and release the 850 passengers in cryo sleep. Mara goes with him. [If I booked passage on a luxury cruise, I'd be pigging out at the buffet six times a day, not lying in cryo sleep. If I'm spending an entire space voyage asleep, I'm stringing up a hammock on the cheapest garbage scow I can find.]

Together they release the cyro pods, [They went to release the passengers, not the pods. I assume they open the pods. And shouldn't that be cryo pods?] [Escape pods, cryo pods . . . is every enclosure on this ship named after a legume casing?] but a Mawreg ship arrives and the two of them are trapped in the engine [pod.] room, waiting for the ship to blow. [Where are the 850 passengers they released? Probably pigging out at the buffet.] At the last moment, Nick and Mara are rescued by marines. [How convenient.] The Nebula Dream explodes, [Hey, this is sort of like the Titanic.] destroying the Mawreg ships too.

On the rescue battleship, Nick is given a battlefield promotion for his bravery. [They can take their promotion and shove it. A week ago they were drumming him out of the Corps. Now that he's hot they want their piece of the Nick pie.] Nick proposes to Mara, wanting to make the most of the life that has been given back to them, for themselves and for those who were not so lucky on that ill fated voyage aboard the Nebula Dream. [Hey, we've known each other three days, all of which we've spent on the verge of death; of course I'll marry you.] [Is there a honeymoon cryo pod that sleeps two?]


I'm not sure we need that first paragraph. This seems to be Nick's story more than the Nebula Dream's, so the coverup of the death during construction, and the curse, would seem to be minor subplots.

This could be set on Earth, with a cruise ship. Terrorists instead of Mawreg. No pods, but most of the people on a cruise ship are in cryo sleep anyway.

I've pointed out a few places where the plot inspired questions. If some of them seem like glaring problems, you might want to remove them or explain them.

12 comments:

Dave Kuzminski said...

I want to know where the cutter came from.

Khazar-khum said...

Why are they called lifeboats & not escape pods? Stupid thing to catch on, I know, but it bugged me.

Evil Editor said...

It sounds like the cutter was on board or in tow. Which leads me to ask, why did everyone who already left take escape pods when there was a cutter available?

They are called escape pods in the first sentence of paragraph 3, so the question becomes, why are they called lifeboats thereafter? Slang for escape pod?

Anonymous said...

That was a lot of old nautical vocabulary, which added to the sense that it was really about earth folk at sea.

writtenwyrdd said...

Geez, this sounds like yet another bad SciFi channel movie... I'd listen to EE's advice and remove those elements that make your plot sound disjointed and illogical. I'm sure it's much more cogent than you show in the letter!

Robin S. said...

I'm looking back and forth at this, and at FaceLift 471, and the query rewrites that someone mentioned read more like a synopsis.

I kind of like the legend bit at the beginning- not sure if it goes in the query or the synopsis, but I like it.

It looks like with this:
"On the bridge Nick realizes the ship has taken a shortcut through enemy territory in an attempt to make up time after various ship malfunctions. No distress call has been sent" you've answered EE's question from the FaceLift regarding why the ship was in enemy territory.

I'd also want to know what happens to the sleeping passengers.

I'm wondering about that last-minute save by the Marines. I know it happens all the time in the movies - the deus ex machina bit- but I think there'd have to be a compelling reason for this to have worked out - given that no distress call was sent out.

I'm not wondering at all about the quickie marriage proposal. I think wars and other traumatic events do drag this stuff along with in their respective wakes.

This reads to melike it could be a novel, or a screenplay for a one hour show in a series. That's not a bad thing - all I mean is - I'd think it's gonna need some really good writing and some plot points that differ from its genre brethren, to set it apart, in order to meet with success. Just my opinion - I am by no means expert at this.

And I still think synopses are boring. And I still don't know why anyone would want one - but there are some agent's websites that ask for them, so it seems people really are reading them, even though they seem, simply in format, to reak of a stale day-old-garlic-breath kiss of death. (Of course, I may believe this because my synopsis sucked. A lot.)

Phoenix said...

I think in the synopsis it's important to note why Nick's career appears to be over. He's a general screwup vs he made a decision in the heat of battle that went terribly wrong vs he fled a battle because he was afraid will make his actions on the Dream much clearer. Also, maybe intro him by his rank. That again grounds the reader, who will have different expectations of an ensign than of a captain. And it gives you a chance to show how the experience changes Nick, or reinforces who he is to those who lost faith in him, or whatever.

You really need to explain the cutter's availability.

Are Nick and his party wearing protective gear of some sort? If the bridge is in good enough condition that they can deduce what happened, then I have to ask the question why it was abandoned and why the crew all fled without releasing the cryo pods (I'm assuming they're all self-contained and will keep occupants alive in space). There's usually a disaster plan worked out in advance before any commercial ship leaves dock. And the main crew at least would know about the cutter so they would still have a way off the ship even if all the passengers left before them.

Is Khevan introduced just to provide diversity? Why does he get a name and race? species? religious? ID (sorry, I don't know what to make of him from the description) while the two kids don't? You don't really bring him up after naming him except as part of the "party," so I'm wondering why he's in the synopsis.

After they find the cutter, why doesn't Nick just go ahead and release the cryo pods before cutting out?

Why when they return to the ship is it preparing to explode? Volatile fuels generally explode on impact or if there's an accelerant handy. An ocean liner may go down, but it's not built to withstand a vacuum and doesn't have huge reserves of oxygen on board so people can't survive long when the ship sinks. There's immediate, tangible peril there. But a space liner that doesn't explode on impact? Maybe it eventually bleeds out all of its oxygen and becomes a derelict, but I'm not getting a clear picture of the imminent danger the passengers are in to feel they have to escape so quickly.

Sorry, but laid out this way, everything seems just too pat and convenient. The synopsis should demonstrate you have a viable idea that holds together. But the cutter suddenly being available, an entire crew abandoning ship leaving (cryo) passengers on board, the marines showing up to save the day at the end, and the whirlwind proposal all come across here as tired plot contrivances. Throw in the inevitable comparisons to Titanic and Poseidon Adventure, and it just doesn't seem like you have an original enough idea here. No doubt there's originality in the novel; it just isn't coming across in the synopsis.

BuffySquirrel said...

If the passengers are in cryo sleep, why is there any sense of urgency? They're not around to complain. Or is it only the steerage passengers who're frozen?

Anonymous said...

umm, I'm curious as to why this brand-new space ship doesn't have long range sensors of any kind. Or, why they're not working if they do. It seems awfully strange that a ship that can travel long distances in space wouldn't have any way to examine area in front of them...even if it's just a lookout with a high powered hubble scope. LOL

David (Dhewco)

Anonymous said...

AUTHOR HERE:
Ok, here's the new rewrite. It's about 650 words (ie one page single-spaced in MS word). Hope the expanded version explains some of the plot holes people were seeing. Let me know if there were any I missed. Thanks for all your feedbacks in advance.

~Scott D.

There is a legend among space-workers that when someone dies during the building of a starship that ship will be cursed. So, when a mechanic is crushed beneath the new engines during construction, the nervous owners of The Nebula Dream hush up the incident, pay off the other workers, send the man’s wife far away, but still word gets out and the rumors start. Tales begin to spread among space-workers that the ship is cursed.

CAPTAIN NICHOLAS JAMESON (Nick) knows his military career in the Consolidated Star Guard is over. He’s been ordered to report to Sector Hub ASAP and the quickest way there is on the maiden voyage of the luxurious space-liner The Nebula Dream. The only good thing about the trip is when he meets fellow passenger MARA, a beautiful and no-nonsense inter-stellar business woman. Before Nick has a chance to ask her out, though, the Nebula Dream collides with an uncharted asteroid field.

On his way to an escape pod, Nick encounters KHEVAN, a D’vannae brother, one of an order of lethally trained men in service to their sinister Red Lady. Nick and Khevan are just about to get onboard a pod when Mara arrives begging for help to rescue two trapped children. They get the kids out all right, but discover that there are no more escape pods. The group head for the bridge, in hopes of getting some answers and some help. Along the way they rescue TWILKA, a flighty young socialite, from a pack of rowdies at the Casino Level.

On the bridge they find that the ship’s controls have been deliberately smashed. Nick realizes the ship’s unscrupulous captain has taken a shortcut through enemy territory in a desperate attempt to make up time after various ship malfunctions. No distress call has been sent. Nick’s party and the other survivors out in the lifeboats are stranded, and at the mercy of the alien Mawreg, who will undoubtedly come to investigate the incursion.

Nick’s band of survivors journey to the Dream’s hold to retrieve a top secret Special Forces communication device that Nick hopes to use to call for rescue. Nick activates the transmitter in the ship’s observatory and sends his message directly from his brain, out towards the nearest friendlies: a space freighter and a CSG battleship. Both ships are too far away to affect an immediate rescue, and the first wave of enemy aliens are already busily investigating the Dream. Nick is ready to blow the engines to keep the Mawreg from capturing the ship and enslaving its survivors but Khevan, working with Twilka, is able to call upon his Red Lady for help. The Red Lady attempts to kill Khevan as Her price for assisting the others, but she is prevented from doing so by Nick.

Nick’s group flies out on one of the ship’s cutters that the Red Lady provided for them. Fleeing from pursuit, they make contact with the freighter that was summoned to by Nick’s distress call. Once safely on board, Nick tells Mara he needs to return to the Dream and release the ship’s cryo sleep modules. Otherwise, 850 helpless passengers in the modules will be taken prisoner or die. Nick also intends to set the ship’s Yeatter engines to self destruct. Mara refuses to let him go without her. Nick and Mara manage to release the cyro pods but another Mawreg ship has arrived. The two of them are trapped on the ship. At the ships’ engines cycle down to implode, Space Marines from the newly arrived CSG battleship fly in to rescue Nick and Mara. The Nebula Dream self destructs, taking the Mawreg ships with it.

On board the battleship, Nick proposes to Mara, making the most of the life that has been given back to them, for themselves and for those who were not so lucky, on that ill fated voyage aboard the Nebula Dream.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think this could still be condensed. It reads a bit wordy to me. For example:

There is a legend among space-workers that when someone dies during the building of a starship that ship will be cursed. So, when a mechanic is crushed beneath the new engines during construction, the nervous owners of The Nebula Dream hush up the incident, pay off the other workers, send the man’s wife far away, but still word gets out and the rumors start. Tales begin to spread among space-workers that the ship is cursed.

could be reduced to something like this:

When a mechanic dies during construction of luxury spaceliner The Nebula Dream, her owners try in vain to hush up the incident. Rumours soon spread that the ship is cursed.

Anonymous said...

When I copied it into Word, it was about a page and a third.

You have plugged some of the more obvious holes, but there are a few left. Like Nick and Mara get rescued, but what about the 850 passengers they released? There are no escape pods for them.

I believe - from a previous discussion - that your first paragraph is a summary of your prologue. I don't think it's necessary here and you could save quite a few words if you lose it.

I took out adverbs, rearranged some things, did general tightening.

Here's a 478 word version:
There is a legend among space-workers that when someone dies during the building of a starship that ship will be cursed. When a mechanic is crushed beneath the new engines during construction, the nervous owners of The Nebula Dream hush up the incident, but tales begin to spread among space-workers that the ship is cursed.

CAPTAIN NICHOLAS JAMESON (Nick) knows his military career is over. He’s been ordered to report to Sector Hub ASAP and the quickest way there is on the maiden voyage of The Nebula Dream. He meets fellow passenger MARA, a beautiful and no-nonsense inter-stellar business woman. Before Nick has a chance to ask her out, the Nebula Dream collides with an uncharted asteroid field.

On his way to an escape pod, Nick encounters KHEVAN, a D’vannae brother, one of an order of men in service to their sinister Red Lady. Nick and Khevan are just about to get onboard a pod when Mara arrives begging for help to rescue two trapped children. They get the kids out, but discover that there are no more escape pods. The group head for the bridge, in hopes of getting some help.

They find the ship’s controls smashed, the ship’s unscrupulous captain took a shortcut through enemy territory, and no distress call was sent. Nick’s party and the other survivors out in the lifeboats are at the mercy of the alien Mawreg.

Nick’s band of survivors journey to the Dream’s hold to retrieve a Special Forces communication device. Nick activates the transmitter and sends his message directly from his brain, out towards the nearest friendlies: a space freighter and a CSG battleship. Both ships are too far away to affect an immediate rescue. Nick is ready to blow the engines to keep the Mawreg from capturing the ship and enslaving its survivors, but Khevan calls upon his Red Lady for help. The Red Lady attempts to kill Khevan as Her price for assisting the others, but she is prevented from doing so by Nick.

Nick’s group flies out on one of the ship’s cutters provided by the Red Lady. They contact the freighter that was summoned by Nick’s distress call. Once safely on board, Nick says he needs to return to release the Dream’s cryo sleep modules. Otherwise, 850 helpless passengers will be taken prisoner or die. Mara refuses to let him go without her. Nick and Mara release the cyro pods but another Mawreg ship arrives. Nick sets the ships’ engines to implode. Space Marines from the CSG battleship fly in to rescue Nick and Mara. The Nebula Dream self destructs, taking the Mawreg ships with it.

On board the battleship, Nick proposes to Mara, making the most of the life that has been given back to them, for themselves and for those who were not so lucky, on that ill fated voyage aboard the Nebula Dream.