Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Synopsis 38

Guess the Plot

1. In the not-too-distant future, Young Adult novelists have been hired by the World Government to create a set of templates for all humans' lives. Gavin is stuck with Synopsis 38, which means he is the secret Prince of the Fae. He would much rather be a were-zebra, so he must hack into the central computer and do some editing.

2. It was the most riveting synopsis EE had ever read. He should not have told his recently fired intern to print a copy and archive the email because now it's lost in the sewers of New York. Thank goodness EE still has his wader from twenty summers ago.

3. Stuff happens.

Original Version
Avalyn and her father, Nolan, are servants at an inn, but occasionally are called upon to entertain for the lord of their manor. Although it seems a prestigious job, Avalyn detests working at the lord’s manor because his youngest daughter abuses Avalyn every chance she gets.

There are few who would befriend a girl in such low circumstances, but one boy, Dylan, from the local monastery, finds her companionship irresistible. [Does he live at the monastery? Is he an aspiring monk? With permission to date?] Not only is she blossoming into a beautiful woman, but she is also a bit of an enigma. Though she should have the simplest mind in town, [Why is that?] Avalyn is brighter than any girl he has met. Dylan cannot help but fall for her.

A newcomer to town, Teague, immediately notices Avalyn and vies for her attention. He would love to pursue her, but when he is suddenly raised to a position of nobility, his chances with her become slim. [A newcomer walks into town and before he even has time to ask Avalyn out, he's been promoted to nobleman? What's his title?] He now has a clear future with the lord’s daughter. Through it all, he cannot put Avalyn out of his mind.

Avalyn has a secret. She is a child of a Celtic shaman bloodline [descendant of a Celtic shaman], and under the instruction of her father she is training in the ancient art of ritual sacrifice… But not as one might imagine. In turn, Avalyn sacrifices each of her senses for a period of time, only to have them return with a ferocity she could never imagine. [Not necessarily a good thing, especially if there's a hog farm in the village.]

The sacrifices and renewal allow her mind to reach beyond its former confines, but it also releases her capacity for desire. She eventually falls for Dylan.

One evening when she has sacrificed her sense of touch, she causes a fire that takes the lives of both her father and Dylan. She is left doubting all she has ever believed in. [Not clear how the sense of touch would prevent her from starting a fire.]

Years later Avalyn plods through a listless life. Though she has become an entrepreneur [Can you be more specific than "entrepreneur"?] and bought her way out of servitude, she still allows her life decisions to be made by those around her. [Who are those around her, and what are these decisions they are making for her?] She feels that left to her own decisions, tragedy may strike again.

The lord’s daughter was left disfigured by the fire [Did she burn down the lord's home? That plus disfiguring his daughter, and I'm surprised she wasn't burned at the stake.] and placed in a nunnery, so Teague, now a knight, is in a position where he can marry Avalyn instead.

After the wedding, Avalyn moves to Teague’s manor. One night a dream of her lost love, Dylan, awakens her former passions.

Pregnant and alone while Teague is off fighting the King’s battles, she begins to realize her husband’s love for her. While kindling a love she never thought possible, another crisis occurs. There is an attack on their manor, cultivated [Organized? Arranged?] by the begrudging daughter of Avalyn’s former lord. Avalyn escapes to the forest, only to stumble into the Celtic Otherworld. Here she finds Dylan alive and well. She learns that the child she carries in her womb to belongs to him. The child is an essential link between the two worlds. [He impregnated her years after his death? When she dreamed about him? Until I see the DNA test results, the kid is Teague's. And when Teague gets back from the war, I don't recommend telling him any different.]

The journey to the Otherworld has brought her old sacrifices to their full potential. She dallies in a world of bliss with Dylan, but she is soon thrust back into the life she left. [By what?] Upon her return she finds herself at a crossroads. Should she live in a world where her newfound abilities can be useful? Or a world where she can live in Utopia with the man she has always known to be her true heart’s companion [love].

In the end, after using her powers to save a life, she chooses the world of Teague. But the child she bears is a child of the Otherworld. Might there be a chance for more? [More children of the Otherworld?]


Like all synopses, it's not too exciting (which explains why no agent who asks for a synopsis ever requests the manuscript).

She feels that left to her own decisions, tragedy may strike again. It wasn't my impression that the first tragedy was caused by her decision. It was her father's idea that she should sacrifice her senses, and apparently her lack of sense of touch that caused the fire. What did she decide that caused tragedy? If my father decided I should become Wonder Woman, and as a result I burned him and my true love to death, I would start making my own decisions.

When a guy you haven't seen in years tells you he's the father of your unborn child, shouldn't you be a little skeptical? Does he offer any evidence?


khazar-khum said...

Um, shouldn't she know who her babbydaddy is?

And here's a technical question for EE.

Why write a Synopsis at all? Are there any that don't make the novel sound stupid?

Evil Editor said...

Why write a Synopsis at all?

A synopsis could be a useful organizational tool if you're the type who likes to organize the whole book before writing it, and who is willing try a new path when the one you mapped out reaches a dead end.

I've heard it said that an agent might want a synopsis so she'll know that aliens don't suddenly appear in chapter 14, but if my aliens suddenly appeared in chapter 14, I wouldn't mention them in my synopsis.

Are there any that don't make the novel sound stupid?


Veronica Rundell said...

All of this is too long, too vague and too confusing.
A synopsis is not meant to entice, it is meant to explain the plot, the complications and the resolution.
Do this as clearly as possible without sweeping grandiose statements and you'll be in a better position.

Alice said...

This feels too rambling. So much stuff happens that I'm not sure what the core of the story actually is. The major events of her father and Dylan's deaths come later on, but it feels like the story doesn't really start until she finds Dylan in the Otherworld. That's when the real conflicts starts happening, when she has to make tough decisions and choose what will happen next in her life.

Opening with Avalyn's dislike of performing at the manner and the lord's mean daughter makes it seem as though that is the main conflict, and as though that's what the novel's going to be about, but then you throw in a whole load of other plot points, making me wonder if that first sentence is really relevant.

I think you should start your query where the story starts. What is the main conflict? If it's Avalyn's decision over which man she should be with, start there.

The names confused me a bit--the talk of monasteries and the like made me think that this would have a firm historical setting, but the character names are all modern or fantasy-esque. So I'm not sure what kind of world this is.

Down Girl said...

I actually think you've got some intriguing and dramatic (even cinematic) elements. A girl whose special powers destroy those closest to her, who chooses domesticity over passion even though she is capable of wildly heightened sensory experiences. But they do get lost in the verbiage.

Here's an example of the kind of cutting you could do:

The whole second paragraph can be boiled down to: "She catches the eye of a boy named Dylan, a lay attache to the local monastery" (or whatever he is).

Paragraph three: "Enter Teague, a young nobleman whose love for Avalyn persists despite his marriage of convenience to the local lord's daughter."

Lots more changes like that could easily be made. Just set up the opposing elements and make us care about Avalyn's choice.

Down Girl said...

And about those synopses.

I HATE writing them when agents ask for them. As an exercise, I've written synopses for various literary classics, and they simply defy condensation in terms of the plot; they lose their essence.

Resolved, then. No matter what the agent asks for, I'll never submit a synopsis again.