Monday, December 30, 2013

Synopsis 39

Fourteen-year-old Cordenqua becomes an orphan when he accidentally kills his father during battle. [Suddenly the one flaw in the decision to battle at night becomes clear.] Consumed with grief and guilt, he declines the sacred ceremony of manhood, earning the condemnation of the villagers.

Shamed, hated, and alone, Cordenqua runs to Eloq’s Temple, aware the God will strike with lightning any but the Called who enter. Killer of Father, traitor of faith and tribesman, he leaps through the archway.

Nothing happens.

Certain he has been Called, Cordenqua intends to tell the Elkek, the village Holy Man, of his Calling. However, as he remembers the Elkek’s insistence that only a Holy Man can be Called, he decides to keep his Calling secret. [I note that the Elkek hasn't leapt through the archway.]

Though the tribesman hate Cordenqua, the Elkek shows compassion and adopts him as his son, filling the void that his father’s death left. Cordenqua becomes bonded to a new companion and adopted brother—the Elkek’s son Rhatanqua.

Cordenqua attempts to convince Rhatanqua he is Called by leaping into the temple unharmed. While trying to stop him, Rhatanqua trips through the archway. Eloq strikes with deadly lightning, killing Cordenqua’s adopted brother.

Cordenqua drags his lifeless companion’s body back to the village—the second death he has caused. Consumed with anger, the Elkek attempt [attempts] to kill him, and Cordenqua flees the village, having lost all those he’s ever loved.

Before he leaves, Cordenqua takes the Holy Writ, the sacred text of his religion and discovers a hidden prophecy that suggests that Cordenqua will save his people by destroying their false religion. Cordenqua refuses to accept the prophecy, choosing instead to believe that his Father’s spirit flies among eagles.

After finding shelter in a cave, he discovers a glowing box (computer monitor) that spies on both his tribe and the enemy’s. Seeing the glowing box, he recalls the words of the prophecy that foretells such an encounter, yet still he rejects its validity. [It was foretold that I would encounter an impossible glowing box that spies on my tribe, and so I have, but it could have been just a lucky guess.]

Upon the mountain’s top, overlooking the land below, he sees the enemy tribe preparing to attack his village. Though they hated him, he warns the villagers. He plunges into battle, hoping for death. [If you're really hoping for death, I recommend plunging into battle without your sword and shield.] Before the fight ends, the dead bodies of his enemies litter the ground and the village welcomes him back, naming him the village hero.

He finds the warmth of acceptance addicting and rejects his destiny, ignores the prophecy, and lives among his people. However, the Elkek maintains his hatred for Cordenqua, and his hatred intensifies when Cordenqua falls in love with his niece, Ariane. After a long battle with his hormones, he rejects her, hoping his abstinence will win back the love and acceptance of the Elkek. [If you want to win a guy's love and acceptance, rejecting his beloved niece is a good start.]

Ariane marries another, and Cordenqua chooses again to live in isolation, too heartbroken to be near her. In a fit of jealousy, her husband attempts to kill her, but Cordenqua kills him instead, leaving Ariane widowed with a child. [He's in isolation, too heartbroken to be near her, but he happens to be on the scene when her husband tries to kill her?] [Also, that kid appeared awfully fast. Maybe sticking "Nine months later" in there somewhere would help.]

Having saved the life of his niece, the Elkek finally forgives Cordenqua and consents to their marriage.  [This says that the Elkek saved his niece, which isn't what you mean. (Whether it also says that the Elkek is going to marry Cordenqua depends on the times they live in.) If you want to say this in one sentence: Having saved Ariane's life, Cordenqua is forgiven by the Elkek, who even helps plan the Cordenqua/Ariane wedding.]

Cordenqua speaks to Ariane of his secret doubts and she makes connections he had missed, proving the religion is fabricated [The line "Once we convince them to worship us, they'll do any ridiculous thing we want" was the giveaway.] and the rituals of their faith serve no other purpose than to keep them in perpetual war with their enemy. [It's perpetual only if no one ever wins. Is there some reason neither side can win the war?]

His father’s death was meaningless, as were the deaths of many others. [His father's death was meaningless whether the religion is legit or not, as it was an accident.]

Enraged, he runs to the temple, intending to kill the enemy that hides within its walls, but not before the village learns of his intentions. Half the villagers, led by the Elkek, hunt him, [This Elkek flip-flops more often than a politician.] while the other half attempt to save the village hero.

Before any can stop him, he leaps through the archway. When they see he’s unharmed, some hail him as a god, while others seethe with hatred. As he prepares to enter the temple’s doors, the neighboring tribe crest a hill adorned with battle armor. [I suppose we can infer it's not the hill that's adorned with battle armor, but if the neighboring tribe, adorned with battle armor, crest a nearby hill, you'll escape the grammar nitpickers.]

He fights desperately to protect his wife and adopted child, but an enemy breaks their line of defense and stabs her [the wife or the child?] in the back. [He's fighting desperately to protect his wife and child, yet the single enemy soldier who breaks the line of defense manages to get within stabbing distance?] Dying, she commands [Implores?] Cordenqua to take care of her child. He circumvents the deadly barriers to the temple and enters, convinced that their enemy has magical powers that can heal Ariane. When he enters, he finds dozens of corpses and a message on their computer monitors—Project Eloq—Training and Selecting the Nation’s Warriors. Program Terminated. [Is this a novel or a Twilight Zone episode? The Holy Writ is . . . a cookbook!!!] 

Ariane dies, [What?! You're killing off the only likable character? This is worse than the third Hunger Games book, though I'll probably still watch the movie just because I believe Jennifer Lawrence is my destined soulmate.] leaving him alone with his adopted child.


Did the tribes have any religion before Project Eloq began? If so, is the Holy Writ the sacred text of the tribe's original religion? If so, is there also a sacred text of the false religion? If not, why have the tribe chosen to follow the new religion?

So are the corpses the people who were monitoring the project? If so, were they killed by the God? If so, why did he wait so long to kill them, allowing all these meaningless deaths?

The techno-superior race secretly monitoring a more primitive civilization is the plot of a dozen Star Treks, but the training-of-warriors aspect may add a different twist. Which nation's warriors are being trained in this project? If it's the techno-superior nation's, I don't buy that they would need great warriors from tribal villages. Unless they're selecting gladiators to fight for their entertainment? Even if that's the plan, you haven't said that the best warriors are suddenly disappearing.


Veronica Rundell said...

I'm totally lost as to the point of this story.

I'm in absolute agreement that it sounds like a Star Trek rip-off.

I'm horrified that there is a Deus ex Machina about to unleash itself all over EE's site. (Last time, it wasn't pretty)

A synopsis is supposed to explain the main characters and plot points. I feel more confused now than I was for the query. I wish I had suggestions to make this better, but mostly, I'm gonna stick with: cut the verbiage and cliches because that's not gonna cut the mustard.

Dave Fragments said...

I read about three or four paragraphs into this and got lost. I'm confused by the plot twists.

Anonymous said...

Synposes are so difficult to comment on. Nearly every story sounds flat when you take the this-happens-then-this-happens approach. Still, will try.

Here are the things that I like:
* The lightning archway really works.

Here are the things that are confusing/bothering me:
* C doesn't show any personality, except rage at one point.
* If C wants to be accepted, why is he keeping his Calling secret?
* I thought C was 14. Why is he getting married?!

Most importantly, I can't find the resolution to most of the plot/theme threads; perhaps you need to make this more explicit?

thread one - C has guilt about causing deaths. Does he come to terms with this?
thread two - C has longing to fit in and not be rejected. At the end, has he fit in or not? Or accepted he never will?
thread three - C is Called. Or is he? He doesn't seem to get anything out of it?
thread four - C tries to avoid a prophecy. I'm not clear how or if he destroys the religion in the end.
thread five - people keep attacking the village. Think you should specify whether the final fight actually ended the war for good.
thread six - romance. That one actually seemed tied up.
thread seven - this is all a computer game. But what does that mean for C?

khazar-khum said...

Hi author. Some thoughts.

1. The computer game needs to go. Either the whole thing is real, or it's a sick joke played on the characters. Readers don't always like that, even in Star Trek.

2. The Elkek's niece. There must be some reason here. Maybe Cordy doesn't want to break the rules by marrying into the Elkek's family. Right now loving the girl & walking away makes him sound like a jerk.

3. Fabricated religions. If this one is fake, what will it really be replaced with?

4. The Elkek sounds more like a spinning plot wheel than a human.

5. Right now this sounds like a collection of episodes and set pieces. The Elkek fits whatever role is needed at the moment, the computer game has been done to death, and like EE said, the one likeable character died. I dunno.

But do take heart--there has never, ever been a synopsis that didn't take an interesting book and make it sound stupid.

Chicory said...

I am a bit confused. I think what you're saying at the end is that the god was actually fabricated by scientists and the lightening door was something the scientists used to fry the unsuspecting with electricity. They choose not to kill C so they can set him up as their chosen one (possibly to see how their warriors will react.)

If I'm right, where does the prophecy come in?

Either the scientists are manipulating C into fulfilling it, and planning their own downfall, or else there really is a deity who is working outside the scientist's plan and has somehow protected C from frying and given the prophecy because he knows C will defeat the scientists.

Or the scientists have split into two camps, one who want to be worshiped, and one who wrote a prophecy and are manipulating events to see it happen.

I suspect the story is meant to be ironic -something the audience understands because we know more about technology, but that the character never will. To make it come across in the synopsis, you may have to short-cut by explaining more what these scientists are about.

Dustin said...

Sorry for all the confusion about this. One detail I didn't find the space to mention was that the ceremony of manhood involves piercing their chests with a thick metal rod. That rod conducts electricity and when they enter the temple, they get zapped. Corky doesn't get zapped because he refused the ceremony (and thus doesn't have the metal rod).

As for who's behind this--it's some governmental organization that gets this brilliant idea to raise people to believe in a false religion, a religion that compels them to fight one another. From the best warriors, the government removes them from the village via helicopter, but the tribe believes it is Eloq. These warriors are then taken to fight the "true" war (perhaps with China or something).

But what happens is the project is abandoned and because no one ever told Corky's people the real purpose behind their religion, they keep perpetuating the fighting because the religion propels it.

I'm not sure how it came across that it was a computer game. It wasn't. Can anyone point me to where I made that confusing?

Dave Fragments said...

Notes - The lightning did seem to strike the dummy with a piercing more, but not the piercings directly. It would take a piercing the size of a doorknob to attract lightning. Given that the realistic piercings did not get struck, the myth was technically busted.

The science of the electrical discharge doesn't work.

If I was writing the the synopsis then I would reveal that this is a manipulated town or village or whatever early in the synopsis. THe current opening paragraph about killing his father in battle before participating in the ceremony of manhood completely baffled me. Knowing this was a manipulated society would have prevented that and then all of the illogic of the religious rules would make sense.

Kelsey said...

Hi author,
My biggest hang up with this plot so far is that, as far as I can remember, other stories where the characters find out they're living manipulated lives is ABOUT the characters living manipulated lives--it's not the final reveal, it's the whole point of the story.

Imagine if The Truman Show had been about Jim Carrey and his marital problems, and his troubles fighting corporate bad guys at town hall--and then in the final scnenes, we find out he's living in a fake TV show. Would that have been a satisfying ending?

It feels to me like this story should be 15-20% max on C and his calling, him killing dad, him falling in love etc. and the rest about how he discovers his family's living a fake life and how that changes everything.

I realize that's a comment on story rather than query per se, but that's just to let you know why I, as a potential reader, would put this book down in a bookstore.

Cheers and best of luck.

khazar-khum said...

Dustin--the confusion over a computer game comes when Cordy finds a glowing monitor in a cave.

"Some governmental organization" makes this sound even more nebulous and game-like. If you can't even tell us who is behind this, it sounds as if you don't care; and that, I promise you, means no one else will care, either. No one will want to read a book where the author can't be bothered to explain the set-up.