Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Synopsis 46

Synopsis of Not Another Child (Query in previous post)

Somewhere in modern day Canada, an imprisoned child feels abandoned.

An infamous paedophile is being released from prison. To avoid demonstrators he is flown to Ottawa airport where he is killed by a sniper bullet. Janice Williams, head of the RCMP Sex Crime Division is assigned to a task force where [when] evidence shows that the killer is an insider.

Janice surfs the deep web to find a pedophile, “stchris”, who she is hunting and has kidnapped four children and killed three, the fourth is still missing. [Was that supposed to be a sentence?]

Janice’s friend Laura Lamour plays the part of a victim in a Coast Guard training exercise and is an expert in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for emergency workers. She is Janice’s anchor. [Nice insertion of maritime terminology for the woman who had a part in a Coast Guard training exercise, but I don't see this exercise as a vital part of the plot description.]

A few more pedophiles are murdered in different locations across the country. This brings a lot of attention to the issue of child abuse and the public begin to lobby for harsher laws. [No one cares about the abused kids, but when the abusers get murdered there's an uproar.] 

Janice’s squad identifies the “stchris”  [Anagram: Christ's] killer and heads to Sudbury, Ontario. The priest is found murdered [What priest?] and the child is rescued. [Is this the imprisoned child who felt abandoned in modern-day Canada? I assume we're getting back to that kid at some point.] 

Janice returns to Ottawa and briefs the task force that there are more than twenty-five murdered pedophiles. [Reminds me of the old lawyer joke. What do you call 25 murdered pedophiles? A good start.]  Janice, Kilgour and Forbes go over case files to look for clues and decide to set a trap. [You toss out the names Kilgour and Forbes as if we know who they are.]  The killer avoids the trap and kills a pedophile under police surveillance [Killer avoiding your trap: embarrassing. Killer killing someone while avoiding your trap: priceless.]

Janice relives the trauma of her own abuse and how she rose above it.

On a northern Quebec reservation, a small child is raped and beaten and left to die but is found and hospitalized while the rapist is arrested. Laura responds to the reserve to counsel the affected responders and the community members.

Janice’s team follow up leads with passenger lists [Passengers of what?] while also planning a raid for an individual that wants to have sex with a twelve-year-old. The planned take down becomes rough but thanks to the skills of a new recruit, two men are taken into custody.

Laura learns about the Residential School system from one of the Elders which might explain the violence and abuse with her people. The Elder tells Laura that she will fight for the innocent.

One of Janice’s team accuses her of suppressing information and that the passenger list clearly identified Laura Amour as the killer. [It's so much easier to capture killers in Canada where they're identified as killers on passenger lists.]  [Also, is her last name Lamour or Amour?] Janice asks both her teammates [to give her?] until morning to convince Laura to turn herself in. Janice meets Laura and realizes that Laura will not stop her crusade.

Janice and Kilgour attend the trail [trial] for Lapointe, the abuser from the Reserve to protect him from Laura. However she is in Victoria B.C. hunting an international child pornographer. [Just because you can't convince a killer to turn herself in doesn't mean you have to let her travel across the country.]

The government caves into [in to] public pressure for tougher legislation and penalties.

After the trial, Janice and Kilgour transport Lapointe to the airport in Val-d’or, Quebec for his flight to Montreal. Using insider information, Laura is ready when the flight lands in Montreal and is able to kill Lapointe and avoid capture. Janice and Kilgour are suspended for their failure [utter incompetence]. The Minister puts Forbes in charge and tells him to ensure that Laura does not make it to trial. [The Minister?]

Laura calls Janice and Forbes’s people are able to track the call to her apartment. [You screwed up when you made that phone call Laura. We never would have thought to look for you at . . . your apartment.] Forbes has the elite anti-terrorist group assault Laura’s Montreal apartment. [But even they allow her to escape capture.]

Laura plans to escape to the U.S. with the help of a First Nation Reserve cigarette smuggler. To avoid detection, the entire reserve launches their boats from the reserve towards the U.S. border, however through deductive reasoning; Forbes predicts where they will make landfall and enters U.S. airspace. [She's on a boat heading for land so he enters air space? I assume if the reserve is sending dozens of boats, and Laura is on one of them, they're sending them to different locations, so that Forbes won't know where to wait. He deduces which boat she's on?] 

After arriving on the U.S. soil, she is confronted by Forbes, Janice and Kilgour. Forbes reveals that the government wishes her dead, something he refuses to do and offers future cooperation. [What? Cooperation in killing pedophiles?]


Janice has spent months on a Caribbean island rejuvenating but is ready to resume the hunt, possibly in Europe. [What hunt?]


I recommend submitting to agents who don't require a synopsis. 

Failing that, get rid of anything that isn't essential so you can provide more detail about  what is essential. 

If Laura is still free at the end of the book, maybe she should be the main character.  Readers are more likely to sympathize with a woman who murders pedophiles than with a woman who tries to stop her. You won't even need Janice. A series of books about a vigilante killer of pedophiles would be . . . 

Hmm, a Googling of "vigilante killer of pedophiles novel" reveals there are a few such books already. But they probably aren't about Canadian vigilante killers of pedophiles.


InkAndPixelClub said...

Dump the first sentence. It's too vague to be compelling and you don't mention the kid again for multiple paragraphs,magic happens kills any sense of urgency.

How does flying the killer to Ottawa airport avoid demonstrators? Do you really need this detail?

If Janice is assigned to the task force before discovering that the killer is someone on the inside, change it to "...and discovers evidence that shows..." Otherwise go with EE's correction.

Janice gets assigned to a task force to find the pedophile killer, but then you have her searching the deep web for another pedophile. Is there a connection? Is she trying to find the killer next target, or just doing this on the side? The sentence is also a disaster to the point where it sounds like has kidnapped four children and killed three.

Equally clueless about why you're mentioning Laura L/Amour at this point. She's obviously an important character, but does she do anything in this part of the story? Right now, it's like you've stopped the plot to introduce a character with no clear reason why.

Is there any evidence to suggest that all of the pedophiles are being killed by the same person? I'm sure there are plenty of other people with motive, means, and opportunity in each case.

What happens that causes Janice to relive the trauma of her own abuse and (the...satisfaction, maybe?) of how she rose above it now as opposed to any other time in the story? This line feels disconnected from the narrative, with nothing clearly causing and no obvious results.

I share EE's confusion about where these passenger lists came from and what they have to do with the case. You want to keep extraneous stuff out of the synopsis, but not vital details that explain why something matters.

"The planned takedown becomes rough" doesn't tell me anything. What happens?

Not sure why Laura's conversation with the Elder is important, or whose people are subject or prone to violence and abuse.

Janice meets with Laura and realizes she's not going to stop murdering pedophiles, so she goes to the abuser's trial? She doesn't seem to have convinced Laura to turn herself in, so she' sister going to walk away and let Laura escape? Janice is seeming less and less competent as the story goes on.

I can buy that a rash of pedophile killings might make child abuse a bigger issue than it normally is and spark demands for stricter laws. What I can't buy is that the government would hem and haw about it before finally caving in. Creating stricter laws to punish oenophiles isn't exactly controversial or politically risky.

There's a raid an Laura's apartment, then Laura is planning to escape to the U.S. Again, something happened and you're not telling us what.

Is Forbes in a plane already for some reason?

How did Kilgour and Janice get to the U.S.? What are they doing while Forbes is apparently offering to become a vigilante?

There are enough issues in here that I suspect part of the problem might be your story, not just your query. You may want to take EE's advice and make Laura the main character, since Janice is kind of bad at her job and isn't very present in the story after the first half to two thirds. Plus you have a few scene that seem to involve Laura with Janice, even before she's revealed as the killer. If part of the hook of your story is the mystery of the killer's identity, switching to a second character's POV will lead a lot of r adders to assume that this character is the killer.

Anonymous said...

Part of what you want to do in a synopsis is present a clear, logical plot: this happens which causes that to happen which results in another thing happening. If you're going to jump around, make sure it's clear how the side set of events connects to the larger whole. It may help if you start at the end and work backwards, each time adding an event which led up to the one(s) you already have.

The synopsis is another example of your writing ability. You want to make sure that grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct, pronoun antecedents are clear, and your sentence structure reinforces the information being conveyed (e.g. don't bury important information in the middle of a sentence). Also, make certain you've edited your book so that it is as free from errors as you can make it. Find some beta readers to catch any errors you may have missed (if you've stared at a page for long enough, you will see what's supposed to be there, not what is there).

Usually you want for your main character someone who is making all the decisions that move the plot, the person who is most connected to the diverse elements of the plot, or sometimes the person who can fix everything at the end. Janice doesn't seem to be any of those things. If she is who you want as your MC, you need to show how her actions drive the plot or connect the plot. If her actions don't you either need a new MC or to rewrite.

Matt said...

Ack, I was wrong. Turns out Laura was the killer.

A synopsis shouldn't be chapter summaries in bullet points. That's how you get the bones of it, but then you have to rework it into a short story with voice and everything. A good synopsis will stand on its own, without the book.

Anonymous said...

I was just about to go back and write BOOM! on Matt's guess about the killer, and then the synopsis let the air out of that.

I had the identical impression that this is a string of chapter summaries. Worse, my suspicions that rewrites of the query and synopsis are going to be riddled with errors in grammar and punctuation.

Author, you're probably a better writer than the average Joe, but that's a low bar. If your manuscript is in the same shape as the materials you've submitted to us, you'll have to invest in a serious copy edit. You've done a lot of work on your story -- figuring out the plot, building your characters, stuffing it with fascinating insider details. Don't let it go to waste by failing to add a professional literary touch.

Dave Wickenden said...

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I have my work cut out and will hard at it. Writing the book was the easy part.

Dave Wickenden said...

Synopsis of Not Another Child

LAURA AMOUR is a psychiatrist and a leading Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counselor for first responders. She has seen the devastation that child sexual abuse inflicts on the victims and the families as well as the responders that have to pick up the pieces. With Canada’s weak child abuse laws and an uncaring government, Laura has taken the law into her own hands. Working under the radar, she is hunts down and eliminating pedophiles.

Assassinating an infamous pedophile as he is released from prison brings her crusade to the attention of the police. Her best friend and former client, JANICE WILLIAMS is the manager of the Sexual Crime Division and is assigned to the task force to find the killer. Until the task force identifies Laura as the killer, she is free to continue waging her war. Laura has access to her friend’s laptop and e-mail account, and although she feels guilty of betraying her friend’s trust, she feels the means justify the end.

Tipped off that the police have identified a horrific child abuser, Laura confronts the monster, a priest and hangs him in his own church hours before the police arrive. She leaves a note to inform of the child being held a prisoner in the church’s basement.

Laura is assigned to counsel a young police officer who has attended a horrific child abuse case on a Northern Quebec Native Reserve. She meets an Elder who explains how Residential School System has hurt her people and caused a culture of sexual and substance abuse. She predicts that Laura will avenge the weak.

Knowing that Janice and her task force have set up a trap to catch the pedophile killer, Laura eludes the trap and manages to kill the protected pedophile. Janice however, has her team investigate passenger lists of the major airlines and other mass travel services to see if anyone has frequented the cities when and where the murders have taken place.

When the evidence from the passenger lists proves that Laura is the killer, Janice asks her team for a chance to bring Laura in peacefully. Laura, however, is ready for Janice and has her jump through different maneuvers to avoid being followed so that they can meet. Laura explains the reasoning behind her actions and Janice realize that she will never give in.

Janice believes that Laura will attempt to kill the child abuser from the Quebec Reserve and sets up a circle of protection around the courthouse. Laura is waiting in Montreal when the prisoner is transported to prison and kills the pervert, avoiding capture.

To escape the manhunt, Laura needs to escape to the United States. She is helped by a First Nation cigarette smuggler, who wants to show his appreciation for her support of the other First Nation people. A number of police agencies are waiting for the border crossing, but are not ready as the Reserve launches hundreds of boats simultaneously.

Safely out of Canada, Laura takes a well-deserved rest in a warmer climate. But she is unable to sit still for long. There are more pedophiles to kill.

Evil Editor said...

This is much clearer. It also has several careless mistakes:

P1: Working under the radar, she is hunts down and eliminating pedophiles.

P2: It's "the end justifies the means."

P3: She leaves a note informing the police of a child imprisoned in the church basement.

P4: Get rid of "She predicts that Laura will avenge the weak". It brings up questions you don't answer.

P6: Laura, however, is ready for Janice and has her jump through different maneuvers to avoid being followed so that they can meet. ... is a bit awkward. Laura arranges a clandestine meeting with Janice, and explains...

Also, Janice "realizes."

P7: I would go with "the abuser" or just "him" rather than "the pervert."

P8: I would say "at" the border crossing. And "but are foiled when hundreds of Reserve boats arrive simultaneously." Or just dump the last sentence.

P9: I could do without this paragraph. It sounds like an epilogue, and not part of the main plot.

Anonymous said...

I agree, much clearer. Good job.

Please get yourself some beta readers who are good at spotting punctuation and grammar errors, and careless mistakes. You've worked hard on your book. Make it the best you can before sending it out.

P4: I had to read this over again to connect Elder to authority personage on the Native Reserve. You could possibly make it more obvious to someone like me.

P5: The words "manages to" can usually be left out, i.e "manages to kill" -> "kills"
Possibly split this paragraph since half is Laura and half is Janice. The Janice half could be connected to the following paragraph. Also, not sure which pedophile is being killed here since the one from the reserve isn't killed until P7.

P6: I'm not a legal professional, but I would think they need more evidence than a name on a passenger list as proof. I'd easily buy the name putting them on her trail so they can get the proof they need for a criminal case. This may be an insignificant difference.

InkAndPixelClub said...

I doubt you will get tired of hearing the same praise over and over again, so I will repeat what others have said. This is much easier to follow than the previous version. Good for you for looking over the comments you got and making changes. I know it's not easy to hear criticism that reflects on your story as much as it does your synopsis. You've made some changes that will really help you out.

My big issue with what you have is that the book doesn't sound all that exciting. There are potentially exciting things that happen: killings, children being rescued, a border crossing involving a multitude of boats. But I never get the sense that Laura is really in any danger. The police still com off as bumbling incompetents and Laura seems to sail through every challenge placed before her. There's no real drama because the protagonist isn't faced with any real challenges. She never struggles to achieve her goals, let alone fails to do so. You could up the excitement some by describing some of what Laura's up against and how she overcomes it. "The police have taken (x) precautions to protect the suspect. Laura gets around them by doing (y) and avoids detection or capture because (z).” But I'm still concerned that the story is "A woman decides to murder perdophiles. She does and she's really good at it."

I'm still not buying the uncaring government. Passing tougher laws to penalize child abusers is the political equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Why specifically won't the government tackle this issue.

Does someone tip Laura off or does she learn about it from Janice's laptop?

Could Laura maybe drive the child to a safe haven and drop him or her off instead? Just leaving a note and leaving the child imprisoned in the basement when the police are still hours away seems callous. Plus there's no indication that Laura checked to make sure the child was safe first.

Still don't quite see the story point of the conversation with the elder. It feels like you're stopping the story to I part some information about issues affecting First Nations people. Laura's whole relationship with the First Nations feels a bit "white savior"-ish to me. Could Laura possibly be First Nations herself?

Janice seems awfully understanding given that Laura has used their friendship to further her personal crusade, which has the unintended side effect of making Janice look extremely bad at her job. I'm finding it hard to believe that she'd trust Laura enough to go alone to meet with her in secret and try to convince her to turn herself in. You still don't explain how or why Laura remains at large after this conversation.

Mister Furkles said...

There is little to add to EE's, Anon, and I&PC comments as far as the synopsis is concerned. But InkAndPixel hit on something else. Laura doesn't seem to be at any great risk.

I am not a publishing professional, just a reader, so take this with salt:

You have the bones of a thriller that may sell well, but it is lacking some important aspects of a thriller. Most thrillers have about three main threads and about as many minor threads. These threads cross each other with high risks and without any of the principals being initially aware of the others. Here is one way to change this story into a high risk thriller:

(1) Laura is trying to rid the world of pedophiles by murdering them.
(2) Janet is trying to catch the serial killer while taking advise from Laura.
(3) A secret network of pedophiles becomes aware of the serial murderer and tries to trap and kill her.

The SNP uses encrypted websites and emails to manage their worldwide network. And (a minor thread) they have a mole in Janet's organization.

You can figure out how this kind of thing works. And, of course, you'll want to think up your own high risk thriller threads. You've already got two; adding a third will be some work but doesn't require a complete rewrite, although your novel may grow a few pages.

So, EE, what's wrong with robots offering editing help? Aren't they people...uh, I mean things too?

Dave Wickenden said...

Thanks EE and others for your comments. I will once again tackle those areas that you have mentioned. Just a few notes.
1. I have gotten some help with the Beta Readers; they are going through my novel as we speak. Problem with being a Deputy, I did all the research and writing and my secretary made me look good.
2. Canadian laws are incredibly weak and the last Conservative government which was just voted out of office hates the First Nation people and although over a 1000 women and young children have disappeared or been murdered in the last ten years, has refused countless requests for an inquiry. Which of course, was the catalysis for this story. Oh by the way, the Native vote was the strongest in this past election then ever in the history of my country.
3. InkAndPixelClub, your comments are dead on for the synopsis concerning the challenges Laura has to face, however, in the novel, she gets shot at, chased and with a lot of luck and planning is successful. If this makes it's way into a series, I plan on her being have injured and allowing others to die as she watches, so that as a character, she grows, but also has to deal with real failure.
Once again, Thanks

Dave Wickenden said...

"In just 35 years, more humans will be having sex with robots than with each other, according to futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson."
So they must be human and they will both have a headache.