Thursday, June 04, 2015

Synopsis 44

Guess the Plot


1. Ice cream. Sweet puppy kisses. A glorious trail ride on a good horse. Knowing they'll never find that cheating bastard's body.

2. A big piece of warm gingerbread with lots of whipped cream on top. Having a second helping, this time with vanilla ice cream. Weighing yourself the next morning and finding you lost a pound.

3. Forget about ecstasy and cocaine. JJ and his classmate George have developed Bliss, a super drug that's going to make them rich . . . if they can steer clear of the drug kingpin known as Smurf.

4. Connor falls for Annie and Annie falls for Connor and they live happily ever after with neither one getting a fatal disease, no fights, no problems with their kids, and no bad people making their lives miserable.  

5. Mary and Mike are on vacation for their 30th wedding anniversary. Mary hates everything about the hotel they're staying in: the "farm" food, the confusing coffee maker, and the just okay spa experience. Michael will file for a divorce Thursday, as soon as they get home.

6. 14-year-old Carley has to hide in the shadows, away from the sun. Even a single ray will burn her skin causing mounds of blisters. But if she pops the blisters, she releases a gooey slime that becomes a genie named Bliss who grants her wishes. And since Carley has her eye on the hot new guy in school, blisters are about to become . . . Bliss.

Original Version


Welcome to a world that everyone desires, many pursue, and only few succeed. [...a world that "only few succeed" doesn't make sense.] Where sex is typical, [Find a better word than "typical." Not even sure what that means.] loyalty is tested, bonds are broken, money flows like water and pain is inflicted. [Why would everyone desire a world where bonds are broken and pain is inflicted? I'd drop the whole paragraph. Besides its other problems, it's vague ]

JJ is a college student who comes up with an idea to become famous and powerful by creating a new designer drug. [Have a lot of designer drug creators become famous? Seems to me that if you're creating illegal drugs, the last thing you want is fame.] [Is JJ a chemistry wiz or is he just the idea man in this project?]

Smurf is a gangster from South Chicago. He hates school, but loves money and is always up for making it. [Is "gangster" what they call students who are in gangs these days? In my day, guys we called "gangsters" didn't attend school.] 

JJ after finding out he won’t be able to pursue his dream. Turns his ambition towards the development of the new super drug. [Development of the drug is his dream.] [Also, neither of those sentences was a sentence, but if you combine them you might have something.]

Smurf while facing a triple homicide and beating it on a count of a technicality, gets out of jail and goes back into the drug game, this time with the intent of becoming the biggest kingpin in Chicago. [I assume the technicality is that technically the three people aren't dead.]

JJ and his classmate George, pair up to create the super drug with funds they raise by making and selling a high grade Ecstasy powder. [The money is rolling in, but the fame isn't.]

Smurf once re-establishing himself in the Cocaine game, sets out to settle the score against the people involved in the triple homicide and accidental death of a close friend. [He was involved in the triple homicide. And he got off scot free. And boy is he pissed.]

Once finding out the drugs JJ left with his roommate to sell was [were] fronted to a friend and never paid for, JJ decides to take [takes] his roommate to the buyer’s house and proceeds to beat and rob the man, further embracing the drug dealer mentality. [Actually, beating and robbing people who screw you was a mentality long before drug dealing came along.]

As money starts to roll in from their Ecstasy racket. JJ and George establish money laundering and shell company schemes. As they continue to work on their super drug, JJ comes up with the street name for their product “Bliss”.

With the new found sense of confidence, JJ now starts to believe that the world is theirs for the taking and no one will be able to stop them! [But he didn't reckon on . . . Smurf!] [Was it beating and robbing the guy or coming up with the name "Bliss" that gave JJ the new-found sense of confidence?]


Reading synopses is even worse than writing them, but they are samples of your writing, and this one is not a sample you want a prospective agent or editor to see. 

A synopsis needs to summarize the whole book. In this one, JJ hasn't yet developed the drug or encountered Smurf, which are the two main plot drivers. This is all setup. 

Ten paragraphs, and all you've said is College students JJ and George start dealing drugs to finance creating a new drug that will make them famous. And there's a cocaine kingpin named Smurf who presumably won't want competition from these upstarts.

Too many comma problems. Too many one-sentence paragraphs. 

I don't see a guy named Smurf lasting two days in prison. Did he tell the other inmates his name was Borgo?


Anonymous said...

I'll skip the problems with the writing, which you will presumably fix.

Plot wise you need to connect the dots between JJ & Smurf if you're going to include both. Is there a connection? Is it just thematic? Just that they're in the same business? Smurf is JJ at a point later in life and this isn't in chronological order? Does someone wake up at the end to discover this was all a drug-induced hallucination? They don't wake up because they're dead?

We need more than stuff happens. We need lines saying this happened, this is the consequence, and this is the final outcome. These are the guys to cheer for/comndemn/come to a deeper understanding of/watch because they're entertaining.

You might also want to redefine 'everyone' to not include those who have no interest in the world of drug creators/pushers/jail bait.

khazar-khum said...

There must be a way to keep synopses from sounding like stupid laundry lists. Any advice, EE?

Evil Editor said...

For a lengthy synopsis. you could make each paragraph the summary of a chapter in which something important happens. For a shorter one, divide the book into beginning, middle and end and summarize each part in two or three paragraphs.

By "summarize," I of course mean by developing ideas, not listing things that happen.

Better yet, submit to people who don't request synopses.

Anonymous said...

I agree with folks so far. Aside from the problems EE spotted, I find difficult to root for a drug dealer whose dream is to create a new type of drug and become rich. Any reason why we should care for him? What are JJ’s motivations? Does he need the money for a noble purpose? Right now, JJ sounds as an unlikable character.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I agree with anonymous #2. It's hard to root for the character and goals you've set out here.

Most of the sentences in this synopsis have problems. If that's not true of the manuscript, fix the sentences. If it is true of the manuscript, fix the manuscript.

Faceless said...

I think I "get" the appeal of JJ -- I'm assuming he's the main character and Smurf is his antagonist. One of those bad-boy entrepreneurs like Scarface or the "wolf of Wall Street"? Two equally determined characters enter a deadly business, one working from the bottom up and the other from the top down, destined to collide somewhere in the middle with 5-star restaurants blowing up, Lamborghinis crashing into Rolls Royces, beautiful girls found dead at the bottom of swimming pools?

It's a cool concept that would doubtless make a kickass movie, but you might need a writing partner (or an editor with a very free hand and a consequently high price tag) to tackle whatever you've written line by line. Don't even attempt to correct the grammar and punctuation yourself. You'll just introduce more errors.

InkAndPixelClub said...

@faceless - The main difference is that the main character in "Scarface" works his way up from having nothing to being a rich druglord. Whether you like Tony Montana or not, seeing how he gets from where he starts to where he ends up is interesting. Plus, you can understand why he'd end up in drug trafficking and take the risks he does: he has nothing to lose at the start (and everything to lose at the end).

The reasons why a college student, who presumably has other options in life, would choose that path could be interesting, but I'm not seeing it here. All I know is that JJ believes creating a new designer drug will make him powerful and famous, which strikes me as very naive on the part of JJ, the author, or both. I have no clue why he's pursuing this as opposed to any other path to fame and fortune and the synopsis isn't offering any answers.

@Author - If the next sentence of your synopsis was "Then a pack of velociraptors eats all the characters," I would not feel particularly sad or disappointed. I'm not intrigued by either the characters or the setup. I see no reason to root for either JJ or Smurf to succeed and there's no sense of drama or excitement. JJ sets out to make a name for himself in the drug world. He's good at it and no particular problems or obstacles present themselves. For people who found "Breaking Bad" too stressful?

Give me some reason why JJ wants to make the next big designer drug rather than anything else he could be doing with his time and energy. Show me some obstacles in his way, not just the stuff he does that goes smoothly. What happens if JJ is successful? What happens if he isn't? What happens that makes this an exciting read?

Dave Fragments said...

"Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" are two shows I can think of that make the best of disreputable heroes.

St0n3henge said...

I've said this before, but you've got to listen to InkandPixel.

This is all set-up. You stop just before the plot gets started. It's like, everybody had a good time dealing drugs and then went home. There are no obstacles to overcome. Not so far, anyway.

And as others have said, why are we rooting for drug dealers? They beat murder raps, attack people and rob them, and are trying to create the next generation of drug for our kids or even friends to get hooked on. I don't want these guys to succeed. Unless you're going to show how these are really very complex characters with some strangely sympathetic qualities, or possibly show how they start to seriously question their lifestyle choices, I'd rather not know more about them than I need to.

InkAndPixelClub said...

@Dave Fragments - "Breaking Bad" has two things which this story is currently lacking. One is a sympathetic and interesting reason why the main character has gone into making and selling drugs. Walter White has cancer and wants to ensure his family's finacial future. He may have options other than crystal meth to make that happen, but we get to see why he doesn't go with those options and understand his reasoning, even if we don't agree with it. The other thing is a threat. The main characters are in almost constant danger of being caught, killed or otherwise stopped from achieving their goals. There is a lot standing in the way of their potential success. That makes the "how" interesting in addition to the "why." With the odds stacked so heavily against these characters succeeding at every step, how do they pull it off.

All I currently know about JJ is that he's a college student, which I read as "guy with a lot of other options in life." His motives are so unclear that he may as well have been brushing his teeth one morning and thought, "hey, you know what would make me really rich and famous? Inventing a new designer drug. I'll go do that." In addition to not being sympathetic, it's not interesting. Even less interesting is a guy who seems to have nothing stopping him from achieving his goal. There are no feds or angry drug dealers drawing ever closer to JJ. He just does what he needs to do and moves on to the next step. It's downright boring.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you felt the need to lecture me because the statement was aimed at the author and was more or less the statement that if other writers (such as Breaking Bad can write a protagonist who is wrong and disreputable, then why can't the author describe that type of character rather than the one they did?

InkAndPixelClub said...

Sorry, Dave. I didn't intend for that to come across as a lecture and I wasn't clear on what you were trying to say. I took it as a comment aimed at the other Minions saying "A disreputable protagonist can work; just look at Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul." rather than "Author, if you want to write about a protagonist who's into some legally and morally questionable stuff, here are two great examples."

Ultimately the comment is more playing off of yours and aimed at the author. But again, sorry for the misunderstanding and any upset it caused you.

davefragments said...

OK, thanks for the explanation.
I wasn't as clear as I should have been.
It takes lots of work for a writer to have a disreputable character and make the audience like him/her.

BTW - My email went nuts and got messed up and I don't think I will get it back in less than a few weeks or maybe ever. - - - might be gone forever. So please would please change it in your records if you have it, I would appreciate it. Also, if you have used it, I've lost that information. Please resend it. Thanks very much,

khazar-khum said...

Is JJ intent on making a drug that gets you high without all the nasty side-effects like bad trips, addiction, and so on? Does he intend to make something cheap and effective, so a user can afford a hit without selling themselves? Something that works, but does no long-term damage? A clean high, if you will. Something that will kill the illegal drug trade, even.

JJ then does become heroic, while Smurf, leader of the illicit drug trade, has a clear reason to stop him.

And you'd better be one tough SOB to survive prison with a name like Smurf. That he clearly has done so makes him into one scary mofo.