Thursday, April 18, 2013

Synopsis 36


Sir Byron Wedderburn is an eighteenth century ladykiller who lives for the indecent pursuit of pleasure. He encounters Lenore, his true love, on the night of a summer solstice orgy. [As with the query, not clear if she was already his true love or this is true love at first sight.] She agrees to a rendezvous at midnight and joins the other guests. [When you meet your "true love" at an orgy and she ditches you to "mingle" with other guests, the handwriting is pretty much on the wall.] He regrets letting her go, searches uselessly [Futilely? Unsuccessfully? In vain?] for her, and is lured outside by a mysterious man, Vlad, who bites him and renders him immortal. [I was gonna say anyone who goes off alone with someone named Vlad is too stupid to live, but as he becomes immortal . . . ] Lenore finds Byron passed out and takes him to bed. She tells him they are both bloodthirsty immortal creatures, ["Both" meaning Lenore and Byron or Lenore and Vlad or Vlad and Byron?] but leaves him to hide from her violent master, also Vlad.

Byron lays [lies] in bed for weeks and misses Lenore. In his despondent state he shouts into the night and unknowingly summons two rogue fiends who are jealous of his power. [Has he demonstrated any power?] They seize [take] him to London, force him to drink toxic blood, and throw him into street slush at dawn. [That's the best they can do to their enemy? Toss him into street slush? Was London the closest place they could find street slush, or does London have the best street slush?] He dissolves for decades. [Say what? Is it the slush or the sunlight that makes him dissolve? If a sugar cube took decades to dissolve in a cup of coffee, you wouldn't even notice it was dissolving. And the coffee would evaporate before the sugar dissolved.]

Naked and alone Byron awakens in an alley in Los Angeles in the year 2012. [Is he still dissolving? How much of him has dissolved? Maybe just his clothes dissolved.] He is rescued by Gustave, [He's in an alley, alone. What does he need rescuing from?] another of his kind, [His kind? Why are we painstakingly avoiding the word "vampire?"] who helps him adapt to a power[-]driven twenty-first century lifestyle. [It's a last-chance power drive.] Byron longs for Lenore, and she visits him in a dream to warn of Gustave’s malicious intent. Byron considers him his dearest friend, and her warning makes no sense.

Lenore finally appears to Byron. She confesses that while he slept she and Gustave were lovers. She also warns of a spell Gustave holds that would allow him to trap the heightened senses of other immortals, or the doppelganger. [Say what?] This would give Gustave limitless power. He only needs a male and female of his rank, and they are perfect candidates. [He was Lenore's lover and Byron's best friend. Why hasn't he trapped their heightened senses already?] [What will Gustave do if he traps their heightened senses? This is key.]

Byron is not sure if Lenore still loves Gustave but can not make her reveal the truth. [Sorry Byron, but if the truth is No, she'd happily say so.] She disappears again. Gustave and Byron go to Palos Verdes to camp, but before they reach the cliffs rogue fiends chase them in a storm of bullets. [Rogue fiends again? What is a rogue fiend? Are these the same rogue fiends that threw Byron into street slush? What's their diabolical plan this time, to throw him into pond scum?] [Are there any fiends who haven't gone rogue?] Gustave kills his nemesis. Byron's worst enemy taunts him but Byron is not yet strong enough to kill him. [Who is Byron's worst enemy? Gustave? If so, why is he revealing his true colors to Byron now?] He vanishes.

Lenore has followed them. This confuses Byron. [Lenore disappeared and Byron vanished in the previous paragraph. Where are they now?] He is not sure if she and Gustave still love each other. Despite this she has planned a new adventure and Byron is happy to be with her again.


Notes

What happened to Vlad?

Why are the rogue fiends jealous of Byron's power? They have no trouble transporting him to London and tossing him in street slush. Seems like they're more powerful than he is.

Lenore calls the characters "bloodthirsty creatures." I would expect her to use milder terms, especially if she's including herself.

The last two paragraphs are all over the place. More like an outline of the last few chapters than the wrap-up of a story.

Why do Lenore and Byron meet at an orgy? Seems like a party would be just as good, and would inspire fewer questions about how these two can be in love.

18 comments:

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

True love...?

The other night I had dinner with a couple who've been married 60 years. They sat side by side and occasionally gazed at each other admiringly. He, in particular, looked at her as if he still couldn't believe his good luck.

"True" has to mean something.

If you see someone totally hot at a party then you've seen someone totally hot. They can't be your true love because they lack anything to be true to. Particularly at an orgy.

Avoid larger-than-life phrases. Rewrite this in the voice you write your comments in. Be very specific about the challenges, stakes, et cetera.

Veronica Rundell said...

If you wrote an erotic vampire story, own it. Stop pussyfooting around with the godesses and "his kind"'s. It sounds like vampires, and yet you refuse to embrace it. You do everything possible to disguise it, in fact. Guess what? An agent is going to assume it's vamp fiction, and love/hate it regardless of the window-dressing.

This plot summary suffers from too much/not enough.

Too much: Emphasis on Byron wondering about Lenore's loyalty/love. He's a ladykiller, right? Well, that doesn't jibe with this fawning over gal he met at an orgy, who, it seems, he failed to bang.

Too much: rogue fiends intervening. Very Deus X, and it smacks of Byron being a weak character.

Not enough: description of how an immortal 1. Dissolves, 2. Returns from dissolution

Not enough: reason. Byron seems TSTL. He's constantly being set upon by fiends and ruffians. Where's his heroic side? In the sack?

Not enough: plot described here to sustain the story

Look, erotica = okay, it's still selling
Vampire=very tough sell, saturated market

Own your story, make the plot seem plausible. Have the synopsis follow a logical progression that describes the MCs desires, conflict to achieving that desire, and what will happen if the MC fails to attain that desire.

Here's how I imagine your story based on the query and synopsis: three chapters of nineteenth century debauchery, followed by present-day debauchery, with fiends, vampires and random acts of shooting.

I don't find Byron to be appealing. He's either getting it on, or getting the shit kicked out of himself, or mooning over a questionable love interest. Put some more meat on his bones. Make us see through his eyes, feel his pain.

BuffySquirrel said...

These rogue fiends remind me of the rogue warriors that the filmmakers who butchered The Eagle introduced because they didn't think there was nearly enough conflict. At least, I assume that's why. They pop up whenever the plot flags. Amazingly, people tend to see through this device.

The events in your novel should follow logically from each other. If they do, the synopsis should reflect that. If not, FTN.

AA said...



This starts out promising. Then we lose Vlad and enter Gustave. Okay. We also jump to the near-present for no obvious reason. I guess you have to get to the setting somehow.

Then, things start happening that seem to require unnamed villains to show up at random intervals. The only reason I can see for this is to add peril for dramatic reasons.

The rules seem to be arbitrary. The "male and female of the same rank" thing, for instance. And why should Gustave hold a spell the others don't? Why can't they get an even more powerful spell? Where would one get such a spell? At Spell Mart?

I can't tell if this is a Kitchen Sink Story with an And-Plot yet. It might be.

Kitchen Sink Story: A lot of interesting elements are added to try to hold readers' interest. Elements are not closely linked.

And-Plot: Something happens and something else happens and then something else happens. Plot keeps adding things but there is no central theme.

I'd suggest a rewrite to show plot structure and specifically how characters (and plot points) are linked.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Author here.

EE: Thank you. I think dissolving for decades would be unpleasant and boring (I keep laughing about this). I will rework and submit for a feedback request within a month.

AlaskaRavenclaw: You're right. I think Byron just feels happy with Lenore. And his happiness with her is what's at stake. Also, I noticed the revised line from your stanza, thanks.

Veronica Rundell: You have exposed me. This is about vampires, it is erotic (Byron's first 21st century kill is a stripper), and I am intimidated by the already saturated market. But I feel strongly about my characters and do need to own them. Thanks.

BuffySquirrel: Very true. The rogue fiends do have a purpose. They are not random in the story, but they do sound random here. I will fix this.

AA: Will do. I keep thinking "it's all there in the manuscript!" by why would you want to read that if you can't figure anything out in the query/synopsis.

Thanks for your feedback, I owe everyone a drink.

pacatrue said...

I don't get the feeling Byron does much of anything. Things happen to him. Here I am meeting a woman who may or may not be interested in me; now I'm being bitten; now I'm being thrown in slush. I can't tell if Byron's made a choice about anything yet.

Guessing a rewrite will bring Byron's agency out more.

Kelsey said...

Hi author,

Some of the minions here have expressed trouble with the idea that Byron and Lenore are each other's 'true love' when they've only just met at an orgy. It also bothered me, but here's my suggestion. Could you have them go through some extreme situation at the orgy that really forces them to see each other as they really are--and make it clear this wasn't a casual meeting?

For example: Imagine two characters at a bank; one's the teller, the other the customer. If all they did was have an average bank transaction, maybe these two people could be immediately attracted to each other, maybe even flirt or exchange numbers, but beyond that might seem forced. But now imagine that just as they're talking armed robbers reveal themselves and take the teller MC hostage. NOW, these two MCs are forced into an strangely intimate and high-pressure situation where they'd demonstrate both some stupid mistakes as well as their most heroic quality. If, after the two MCs manage to outwit the armed robbers together, the author shows me these MCs have made an incredibly strong impression on each other and their romance progresses quickly after that--seems reasonable to me.

Perhaps if you gave a quick specific to show there was something very unusual about how Lenore and Byron met, it would go a long way towards helping me to believe why, after 250 years, Lenore still even remembers this guy and why Byron will do anything to be with her.

Good luck.

Zachary Gole said...

I know I'm replying to this a little late, and maybe I'm the only one bothered by this, but... I was really turned off by the characters' names. Okay, maybe not Gustave, but seriously... Byron? Lenore? Vlad!?

I get that they're homages, but that's just the problem... they're way too obvious, way too blatant homages. It feels like you're beating the reader over the head with the references.

Like I said, maybe I was the only one bothered by this... but to me, the names were a major turnoff.

Author said...

Revision::


Sir Byron Wedderburn is an eighteenth century playboy who lives for pleasure. He encounters Lenore, a beautiful woman, at a party. She agrees to a rendezvous at midnight. She is his perfect woman. He cannot wait to see her, and he searches for her. Before he can find her, he is lured outside by a strange man who changes him into a vampire. Lenore finds Byron passed out and takes him to bed.

Lenore is also a vampire. Her master, the man who rendered her immortal, forces her to work as a prostitute. She must leave Byron and hide because her master wants to kill her. There is no reason for this except that her master is bored.

Byron lies in bed for weeks after Lenore leaves. He shouts into the night and unknowingly summons two vampires who want to toy with him. Byron is not yet strong enough to fight back. The two take him to their London house, force him to drink toxic blood, and throw him into the street at dawn. Byron disappears in the sunlight due to being weakened by toxic blood.

Byron wakes in an alley in Los Angeles in the year 2012. He has no memory of the past two hundred fifty years. Gustave, another vampire, approaches Byron and takes him to his Hollywood Hills house. Although Byron is penniless, Gustave offers him a place to stay. Byron cherishes his friendship.

Lenore sneaks into Gustave's house and warns Byron of a rare spell Gustave holds. It gives the possessor the ability to walk in and out of heaven and hell, and visit worlds beyond the earth. It only works if two vampires are trapped indefinitely in coffins. Lenore also confesses that she and Gustave were once lovers, but it ended with Gustave's broken heart. Byron is afraid that if he and Lenore decide to be together, Gustave will entrap them out of revenge. But Gustave has shown no desire of wanting to harm them.

Byron wants to be with both of them, but chooses Gustave because Byron is not sure what Lenore wants. Byron is surprised when Lenore shows up to spend time with him and Gustave. She wants to be with Byron. Byron thinks Lenore and Gustave might still love each other, and considers entrapping them. But Byron feels guilty. It seems Gustave has forgotten about his spell, and the past.

Evil Editor said...

This reads like a condensed news report: mostly a list of stuff that happens. Possibly that's what makes most synopses boring, but if there's any chance the agent or editor is going to read your synopsis before reading your chapters, you want the synopsis to show off your brilliant writing. You need to put more life into it, even if your characters are all dead.

I'd drop the 2nd paragraph.

I hope the book makes Gustave more of a threat than he seems to be here. What difference does it make if he can walk in and out of heaven and hell? Does that endanger the world? Even if he puts two vampires in a coffin and then casts a spell allowing him to go in and out of heaven and hell, can't he just let the vampires back out when he returns from his field trip? Is there any evidence that Gustave is going to trap Lenore and Byron in a coffin? Byron doesn't seem to think it's worth worrying about. Gandalf has the power to turn Frodo into a rock, but we don't worry that he will. Why should we worry about Gustave's plans? Making us worry or care about something could make us want to read the book.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Oh cool, you read our advice and followed it.

No one, to my knowledge, has ever written a riveting synopsis. So we're not shooting for any literary awards here, just for something that covers the bases.

Bases that are still uncovered IMHO:

What are the stakes? There doesn't seem to be a thread we can follow here, where if Byron doesn't do X then Y will happen and if Y happens the world comes to an end or whatever, but fortunately against all odds Byron manages to do X and so Y doesn't happen.

(Eg: If Frodo doesn't destroy the ring, then Sauron takes over, but fortunately Frodo does destroy the ring and then everybody's happy. Except Frodo.)

Byron seems to be being batted about by circumstances. Does he protag? Lenore seems to be protagging more. Even if the stakes are only Byron's lovelife, he still needs to be protagging.

If Lenore is Byron's dream woman, why's he hankering after Gustave?

How does the story end? A synopsis, unlike a query, needs to take us right through to the end.

Veronica Rundell said...

So, Cav (can I call you that? We seem like old friends here) we need higher stakes (and I don't mean the wooden sort).

What is the giant huge world-changing problem that Byron faces? Adjusting to modern life? Vampire-ness? Lust? Unrequited love? Obsession? Anemia?
Please, isolate it.
Then, describe how he is thwarted time and time again in his effort to gain that which he lacks.

This is what needs to be in the synopsis. Also, no cliffhangers allowed. Tell us the ending.

There needs to be tension. A reader should sense the stakes and want the story to work out.

Right now the story (to me) is: sexy playboy turns into sexy clueless vampire who has lots of sexy-sex with many other sexy vamps, and may or may not have a lover's quarrel on his sexy hands.

As the parable of 50 Shades teaches, women, who are the main consumer of literary porn, prefer some plot. Otherwise, they'd only go for Internet flicks.

Center the synopsis on Byron's main desire. Make him the MC of it. Get us to cheer him on in his journey.

Kelsey said...

I agree this story needs a more climactic ending, with an exciting yet also organic to the story resolution to each of your subplots. Right now it feels like it just drifts to a finish of some sort.

The other big reason I am not connecting to this story is still that I don't really care about Byron or Lenore. Byron is too passive; Lenore is unknown, except that she's "beautiful" (and, at least did one active thing when tried to warn Byron bad stuff is afoot). Telling me she's beautiful is not enough to make me care. Fiction is saturated with generic beautiful people. I assume that as a playboy Byron has met many, many beautiful women, so what makes Lenore different?

Make them pretty if you want but I need to know MORE about who they are and about the crux of their unique dilemma to make me want to read your book rather than the hordes of other books out there.

Good luck--I can see you want to learn as much from this process as possible. Writers write, and you're writing.

Mister Furkles said...

It appears the story is about Gustave and Byron is the first-person POV observer. In this case, it is a story about a powerful driven bad person – or vampire – as reported by a confident inside the inner circle. Then the reader may identify with the observer without concern for the behavior of the observer or whether the observer drives the action.

And that might be too much rework at this point.

But as a reader, I’d rather read from that perspective.

PLaF said...

1. Byron comes across as dull and hapless
2. The only conflict is Byron’s internal wrestling which, because he comes across as dull and hapless, is also uninteresting.
3. There is no clear three act outline in what you’ve told us, thus your synopsis rambles a bit with too many characters and tangent storylines. Stick to the basics:
a. Act 1: Lord Byron is a playboy who meets a woman that might be more than a match for him. But he’s suddenly transported into 2012.
b. Act 2: He learns he’s a vampire. Lucky for him, he scores a cool vamp buddy, Gustave, who shows him how to live as one of the undead. Then he learns the woman of his dreams is also a vampire. He’d like the two of them to spend an eternity together but his good buddy Gustave, her former lover, might be a problem.
c. Act 2.5: Byron learns that Gustave possesses a rare spell that gives him the ability to walk in and out of heaven and hell, not to mention various otherworldly dimensions, but he needs two sacrificial vampires to enact the charm. And Byron and Lenore might be the unwitting lambs. Plus, Gustave is going to xzy with this new power, something Byron just can’t allow no matter how much he appreciates his vampire bro.
d. Act Three: Using all his skills as a playboy, and whatever cool bag of tricks he’s learned hanging with his cool vampire gang (or the lovely Lenore), Byron will risk an eternity of life, love, and freedom in order to stop Gustave.


CavalierdeNuit said...

Thanks for your comments!

EE, thank you for the perspective. Gustave needs to become evil, and he will.

Alaska, thank you, I will work on the ending, and get the X and Y straight.

Veronica, yes. Women (and men too) want a plot, not a satyr just humping everything. The world-changing problem will be Byron/Lenore stopping Gustave from becoming the sovereign of night (and day). I will work on getting this right, thank you.

Kelsey, thank you. Will do.

Mr Furkles, you confused me a bit. It is written in Byron's 1st person POV, with Gustave entertaining him/going on some adventures. Is this the perspective you're referring to?

PLaF, thank you for the outline. I'm working on that Act Three, because it didn't exist before, but it needs to.

(Darkness, http://www.strickling.net/byron_darkness.htm, a poem by Lord Byron, is a good example of what will happen if Gustave rules the world. So I think Byron needs to do everything he can to stop him.)

Mister Furkles said...

Cav,

It’s much like that. Dr. Watson reports Holmes’ adventures only these two are wicked vampires. Imagine telling the story of Al Capone from inside Capone’s inner circle. Make Capone the vampire Gustav and the young confident the vampire Byron. Then near the end, Byron discovers that Gustav intends to destroy him and Byron must destroy Gustav first. That’s what Sammy Gravano – once a friend of my wife’s uncle, oddly enough – did to John gotti. (Only Gravano did it in court not in a fight to the death.)

I guess that’s your story. But the emphasis in the query and synopsis should be on Gustav not on Byron.

Everybody loves to hear about Sherlock Holmes and nobody really cares about Dr. Watson.

CavalierdeNuit said...

Mr Furkles, makes perfect sense. I'll revisit it with that view in mind. Very cool that your wife's uncle knew Gravano.

(btw, if you're ever in Las Vegas, I would suggest a visit to the Mob Museum http://themobmuseum.org/. Vegas is rich with fascinating mob history.)