Thursday, January 09, 2014

Synopsis 40

Guess the Plot

Thoughts of Forever

1. A philosopher has a revolutionary idea to stop aging: To think is to be, so all he needs are Thoughts of Forever. Now if he can just escape the evil government agents and reach Tahiti with his hot blond assistant, he'll have it made!

2. Deep in the wilds of ... some western state or other that recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, a dude meditates on stuff that totally weirds out a dude’s brains. Like ... how high is up? Or ... when’s the end of forever? ... Or ...

3. Seventeen-year-old Kyle has never considered suicide--until he meets Cory. Together they discuss the idea that death is like entering an eternal dream. They make a suicide pact but Kyle goes through with it and Cory doesn't. It was all a trick by Cory who turns out to be Kyle's evil imaginary friend.

4. Twelve-year-old Jenny's classmates call her "Forever" because once she starts talking, she goes on and on forever. At the suggestion of her favorite teacher, she tries expressing herself through writing instead. But when Jenny loses her backpack at the mall, a desperate literary agent happens upon her diary. Soon the chatty seventh-grader finds herself the bestselling author of a memoir filled with the . . . Thoughts of Forever.

5. Johnny Dupa experiments with old adages. He's already stapled a piece of jelly toast to the back of a cat, and tossed them both in the air. Now Johnny's contemplating eternity. If an hour with his girlfriend seems like a moment, and a moment with his hand on a lit kitchen burner seems like forever--what if he does both at the same time? Hilarity ensues.

6. The wait at the Emergency Room. The span of time it takes water to boil. The excruciating delay between sugar plum dreaming and waking Christmas morning. All of these exceed the length of her last marriage, but Kim K. Is determined to be a bride again. This time, on network TV with her new reality show: Thoughts of Forever.

Original Version

SYNOPSES: [Synopsis]

Kyle is a junior in high school with a wonderful girlfriend, a pesky yet loveable little sister, and parents that care deeply about their children. On his seventeenth birthday, [A quick scan down the page reveals that there's no paragraphing. This leads me to fear that the book has no paragraphing. This leads me to scrap this and move on to something that does have paragraphing. Wait, am I seriously that petty?] Kyle goes out to dinner with his family. After being seated, his little sister, Kim, asks to go to the restroom by herself, rather than being escorted by a parent. After some teasing about being so worried, their Kim’s mother Cherri reluctantly agrees to let her go. While searching for the bathroom Kim is kidnapped, and a witness immediately calls the authorities. It is while the police are questioning the woman who reported the crime that a gunshot is heard outside, and the family loses their beloved Kim. [The family vow never to patronize this restaurant again.] [Unless it's to order takeout, because hey, the ribs are to die for.] After the funeral a few days later, Kyle notices tension rising between his parents, causing him to shut down emotionally. This creates a barrier between him and his girlfriend, Elle, which she cannot break through. Cherri and her husband, Evan, continue to fight at home, and issues over responsibility of Kim’s death [Is it Cherri's fault for relenting and letting Kim go to bathroom alone? Or Evan's fault for mocking Cherri's caution until she finally gave in? Normally I'd blame Evan, but Cherri spells her name with an "i."] [Then again, Evan married a woman who spells Cherri with an "i."] and emotional vacancy drive the wedge further and further between the two. Kyle’s frustration mounts, and it is evident to everybody in his social circle. Elle is deeply affected by his sudden lack of affection and perpetual coldness, and she ends things with him. It is only shortly after this that Cherri and her husband, Evan, decide to split for the time being. In a fit of tears, Kyle hops in his car and carelessly weaves through the streets until he reaches Kim’s grave, where he goes to calm down and experience some solace with thoughts of his sister who loved him so dearly. Here Kyle meets a fellow teenager, Cory, who talks with Kyle briefly, and provides some comfort. After parting here, Kyle returns home and gets his first full night’s sleep since before all of the tragedy. Evan soon comes back to visit with Kyle and see how he is holding up, only to be shut out by his son. Kyle walks outside to clear his head where he meets Cory again, and they talk. They quickly become best friends, and Cory acts as a confidante as well as an advice giver. With Cory’s help, Kyle gets the nerve to talk to Elle again, only to be rejected. Kyle’s parents approach him with talks of a finalized divorce days later, and he again walks outside in hopes of finding Cory, who always seems to be around outside when Kyle needs it. This time Cory has a dark look in his eye, one caused by a harrowing pain that Kyle felt he could understand. Together they discuss life, and how much better everything is when they’re asleep. They fall in love with the prospect of dreams, of an escape from their realities. After a few talks of their affinity with dreams, Cory asks Kyle how often he contemplates suicide, to which Kyle reports never. Yet the idea does not put Kyle off, instead he envisions it as entering an eternal dream. Together they make a pact, and hang themselves in Kyle’s room. After not hearing from their son in over 24 hours, Evan and Cherri barge into his room only to see their son hanging in the center of the room, eyes fixated on the empty noose in front of him.


Hard to buy a guy leaving a restaurant with a hostage, and when the cops show up, presumably a few minutes later, the guy is still right outside with his hostage. And then he decides to fire a gun just in case the cops are too stupid to look around outside. Maybe he was raping Kim but you didn't include that because it would make the book seem like a downer?

Most people who read books as their escape from reality don't want to read about a family that goes through the violent death of one child, a divorce, and the suicide of their other child.

Paragraphing would make this 100% better, but it would still need a lot of work. Unfortunately, while I would prefer that it be a lot shorter, (I'd get rid of Elle for starters) there's no telling how long a synopsis should be. It should be however long the editor wants it to be. My advice is to peddle your book to someone who doesn't want a synopsis.

The lengthy section between the kidnapping and the suicide talk has a listy quality. As if you could just stick "And then" in front of every sentence. Better to choose the most important events and elaborate on them in layers than to list as many events as possible.

If Kyle somehow felt responsible for Kim's (mostly accidental) death, there'd a more interesting family dynamic. Feeling like he's to blame, and/or like his parents feel he's to blame, leading to suicide. The only connection between Kim's death and Kyle's is that Cory might not have entered the scene without Kim's death. You've made Kyle's suicide sound more like an experiment to find out if death leads to eternal dreaming than a reaction to what's happened to his family.

Who was doing the teasing? I assume the father, as he and Cherri argued about responsibility. Was Kyle joining in?


khazar-khum said...

1. This is a synopsis, not a query.

2. Every writer, especially young ones, write suicide stories. Why is one of those great literary mysteries. I guess it's the idea of a young life, so full of hope and promise, so brutally cut short by despair.

3. Cory should be a real person, maybe a vampire or werelizard or something evil. Something evil that orchestrated Kim's murder, and now has Kyle.

Veronica Rundell said...

Hi author!
You wrote a depressing what?
I got nothing to say about that. I'd rather hang myself than read about a teen whose family disintegrates and, deluded with pain, he hangs himself. But, perhaps others will find it appealing.

For the synopsis, imagine you are telling the short, short version of this tale of woe to a stranger seated beside you on the train. At the point where said stranger's eyes begin to dart about the cabin looking for any vacant seat--that's the point you need to attack and rework.

For me, I changed train cars at 'pesky'. If you are using that verbiage in a YA book, well, I'm not gonna read it. And I read a metric ton of YA. The voice of your writing seems verbose and antiquated--both of which are anti-YA. So, fix this if you want to get past the "no answer means no."

Best of luck!

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The voice here is so distant and clinical that it's hard to care about the characters or the story.

Then again, considering what happens to the characters, it's probably just as well.

SB said...

Khaz... I would disagree strongly that every writer writes suicide stories. I'm a writer, and I've never written one, nor do I have any desire to read one or any fascination with suicide whatsoever. Sure, it's a common enough theme, but it's far from something "every writer" does.

By the end of the synopsis, I was assuming that Cory was either a demon or a ghost, or some other obviously inhuman malevolent sort of being. I think that's the main interesting thing here. If it's just a story about a family falling apart and kids dying, then that's just boring and sad. If it's a story about a malevolent spirit of some kind preying on a teen's family tragedy to seduce him (with friendship) and convince him to kill himself, then that's more interesting. And that would seem to move the book from drama to horror. If that's what the story is, I'd rather see more focus on that. (Though if that's not what the story is, then it makes me think that weird twist would come out of left field, and not in a good way.)

CavalierdeNuit said...

In addition to following everyone's advice about editing, you could add a really good part 2 inspired by Orpheus and Eurydice: after Kyle dies he follows Cory through a labyrinthine underworld to find Kim and bring her back to Earth, but if Kyle does not stay behind Cory etc, he will lose the chance to find his sister and see his family again--or something like that.

Anonymous said...

So to start off, this needs a lot of work. Looks like it was written in a matter of minutes (whether that shows you don't care or you need some work, I don't know). Very depressing. Probably hard to get too much of anybody to want to read that. But I do find it interesting from my young (using the term loosely here) psychologist perspective. Before reading the notes and comments about evil spirits, I had a way different idea about Cory, but those ideas do make some sense.

I thought Cory was an imaginary friend, as the editor put it, but not a demonic thing or any of that. I thought he was an imaginary friend in the sense of schizophrenia. The late teens are typically when onset occurs, and tragic/traumatic events have some loose causal correlation to schiz.. The voices they hear and hallucinations they experience are really convincing to the victim, because their brain literally is hearing those words and seeing the person, as proven by MRI scans of patients. Not sure if that was the intention of the author, but hey I love me some psychology. I think it makes it a little more interesting, and a ton more sad. Keep working at it though author! Not saying this isn't going to make a good book, but it'll take some effort. Best of luck!

T.K. Marnell said...

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher asked us to read a book per month and write a one-paragraph summary. Precocious go-getter that I was, I would instead turn in multiple-page single-spaced reports with detailed synopses of every minor event in the book.

Reading this query, I feel the pain of my fifth grade teacher.

There is nothing inherently wrong with depressing material. The problem with this query/novel isn't that it sounds depressing. The problem is that it sounds dreadfully tedious. Extract the key points and get to them.

1. Kyle's sister Kim is murdered.
2. Kyle's family crumbles.
3. Kyle's social life crumbles.
4. Kyle's sanity crumbles.

You should get through #1-3 quickly and highlight #4, which I presume is the point of the story.

"Kyle's seventeenth birthday was supposed to be a happy occasion. He expected cake, presents, and a kiss from his beautiful girlfriend. Instead, his little sister Kim was murdered.

The tragedy throws Kyle's life into a chaos. His parents separate. His girlfriend breaks up with him. Frustrated and isolated, Kyle spends his time taking solitary walks and tending to Kim's grave.

Then he meets Cory, a mysterious and alluring young man...."

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this means I'm slow or what, but when I read the ending, I thought Cory _tricked_ Kyle. That Cory manipulated Kyle into the suicide pact but at the last moment slipped away, leaving Kyle to die alone. But now I see that Cory's too-convenient presence & availability was a clue.


khazar-khum said...

SB--I saw the argument that 'every young writer tries a suicide story' many moons ago in a writing magazine. It was then repeated by Harry Lawton, who I experienced as a creative writing teacher.

Cory needs to be real, at least in the sense that Kyle interacts with him if nothing else. Cory seems like such a malevolent, controlling figure that he needs to be more than a hallucination.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

But it doesn't matter who said it if it's simply not true. I never wrote a suicide story either.

Evil Editor said...

I believe the actual comment was Every young writer who is seriously contemplating suicide has tried writing a suicide note.

I'm thinking of starting a new blog where I critique and edit people's suicide notes. The last thing you want when you off yourself is for people to focus on your grammar and word choice instead of your despair.

_*rachel*_ said...

One thing that might really help this is to follow TK Marnell's advice above. Kim's death is told in great detail, but the focus of the story sounds like it's actually the aftermath, especially the interactions between Kyle and Cory.

As such, I think you could easily simplify the first part--we don't need a blow-by-blow of the death--and perhaps add more detail to how K&C interact, and what makes K so fascinated with C.

CavalierdeNuit said...

EE, you're awful.