Monday, August 01, 2016

Synopsis 52

Guess the Plot

Will to Live

1. A man named Will has lost the will to live, but botches his suicide attempt. He moves in with his brother's family even though he and his brother hate each other,  and finds meaning in life by watering sunflowers. Yes, it's litfic.

2. Grandma Gretchen has spent the last ninety years tormenting her offspring and their offspring by adding and removing them from her will. Now that they have the opportunity to pull the plug, are their names in or out?

3. In a world where death only happens to those who want it, Levi Young has the unique job of an assassin. Yet what should he do when his next target is a small girl that already has lost the will to live yet still cannot die?

4. Princess Fywa is beset by many troubles. The National Bank refuses her deposits because the vault is full of her gold already. The Royal Architect informs her the new palace construction is delayed by a shortage of brass and he must substitute silver. And the Borgos, her nation's arch enemies, demand they be permitted to surrender unconditionally. Can Fywa reach deep within herself and find the will to go on?

5. Multi-billionaire octogenarian J. Frothingham Eveready has a gold-digging wife and five wastrel sons, yet writes a new will splitting his fortune among them. His beneficiaries impatiently await his demise, unaware of an obscure codicil he negotiated with the devil that provides him with decades of amusement as he keeps going, and going, and going...

6. After more than ten years of reading query letters, a famous editor decides to bag it all and move to Saskatchewan. It's either that or kill yourself when you've lost the . . . will to live.
Original Version

Hi there EE, two versions of a synopses, unfortunately I'm not up to writing things consicevely yet. Hopefully you can tell me what to cut out of the first synopsis presented so i can fit the whole plot within your 400 word count because I had to cut it off to fit it in the 400.

The title I have right now is "Will to live" and it's a awful pun because it's about a guy called Will who keeps thinking about killing himself and has to find himself reasons not to do it, day to day.

Will was always good at getting things ‘right’. Some people thought right was boring, be [but] he didn't mind. He’d scored high in his CPA; the right marks. He made the right money, worked for the right agency, and secured the right property for the right price with the right fiancĂ© on his arm– but when until the most important piece of the equation walks walked away on her own two feet, apologising as though unfit to perform a duty, his touch begins to evade him.

One lowly night Will tries to kill himself, but these days it seems he can’t even carry get that out right, and the attempt fails. He’s just thankful that his whacko mother Gwendolyn is deemed unfit to be his caretaker after the attempt. He can only stomach so many chocolate-cream pies and the woman’s cloying attempts to settle his hair for him with a set of old, false nails. He eats too much crap already.

He knows his self-apathy had everything to do with Elise’s decision to leave him.

At a young-minded eighteen, Kaylen Piper fled his childhood home as well as his stepmother Gwendolyn, along with her psychos by-proxy. He’d had stubble on his chin and carried little more than the two hundred dollars that were folded crudely into the seams of his wallet. There was an overwhelming feeling of lightness as he left.

His half-brother William had been the good son, the favourite, the one that could play Mozart and Bach. Perhaps more Most importantly than anything else he Will was the legitimate son of their father’s marriage, and his arrival had put Kaylen into an eternal shadow he could not escape, no matter how hard he tried to do things "right".

Kaylen hasn’t spoken to his snobby little brother since leaving home - discounting the forged and awkward “Hellos” that were necessary at his stepmother’s gaudy Christmas parties back in the days he kept contact- But when the cops call on account of Will’s suicidal condition, the risk of another attempt places a heavy burden on Kaylen’s conscience. Will begrudgingly moves in to learn his brother is married with two young children, two innocents, to step around. Kaylen’s ferocious manager-wife pushes the brothers to resolve their past differences after years of estrangement, but they only seem to grow more hateful with all that was left unsaid. Will’s solace comes in the form of a child untainted by any knowledge of what is happening – Sylvia, his four year old niece. He watches her water the sunflowers in her quiet garden around the side of the house, sees her draw humorously grotesque caricatures of her unhappy parents with bitten-up Crayola’s, and he catches her dancing to the wiggles when she thinks no one is there. Her cautionary attitude towards her sad, quiet uncle gives way to an eagerness for friendship when they water the sunflowers together, and when he begins to teaches her lots about the bugs in her sunflower patch. When he was four, he liked learning about bugs, too.


I have a short earlier version of the Synopsis that includes the whole plot here, but it's less thought out. Please compare them:

Will just tried to kill himself, but he couldn’t even get that right. He is thankful that his mother is deemed ‘unfit’ to be his caretaker after the attempt. He can only stomach so many chocolate-cream pies and the woman’s cloying attempts to settle his hair for him with a set of old, false nails. He already eats too much chocolate, anyway.

Kaylen has not spoken to Will, his little brother, in years. But when the cops call the risk of another attempt places a heavy burden on his conscience. Will moves in to find that Kaylen is now married with two young children. His ferocious manager-wife calls Will a drunk and pours all his wine down the sink. She pushes the brothers to resolve their past after years of estrangement, but they only seem to grow more hateful with all that was left unsaid. His Will's solace comes from watching his four year old niece Sylvia water her sunflowers in a quiet garden, or seeing her dance to the wiggles when she thinks no one is there. But Sylvia’s shyness gives way to an eagerness for friendship when he begins to teaches her lots about the bugs in her sunflower patch. When he was four, he liked learning about bugs, too.

Will’s boss finds him so invaluable to his business that he can’t allow him more than a few weeks off. Actually, Will’s boss just doesn’t want Will to get any worse, and knows that a part of Will dies whenever he isn’t being useful to the needs of other people. Will’s boss has a cousin visiting from London. She is fond of wine, spontaneous holidays, one-night stands, and other hastily-made half-baked decisions. She is also fond of her cousin’s chubby accountant and his sarcastic, self-depreciating [deprecating] humour. She is nothing like his sweet ex-fiancĂ©, and Will only ever wanted to get married, have children, and buy a house miles away from everyone else’s house. Still lost after the slow decay of his failed engagement - and with a four year old’s friendship his main comfort - he prepares himself for an entirely different kind of romance with the hedonic [hedonistic] Ada that is sure to end in complete disaster.


The second version is better, because if you're not going to tell us what happens in your book, you may as well not tell us in as few words as possible. The second version also brings in Ada, who is presumably a key character in answering the questions: What happens? Why are we reading about this? What decision must Will make that will affect the future? What are the pros and cons of each option? What events most profoundly influence the characters' lives?

The first version can be reduced to: After a failed suicide attempt, Will Piper moves in with his brother Kaylen's family and forms a bond with his four-year-old niece Sylvia.

The second version at least has a hint that something will happen with Ada, but neither has enough of the plot. A synopsis should summarize the key plot points. Start over.


Anonymous said...

fwiw I had to keep reminding myself Kaylen was a guy since it's usually a girl's name.

If this is supposed to be a synopsis, you need to tell the end of the story.

Something that might help with the word limit is to tell the story as basically as you can, then start adding explanatory details as needed. From what I get out of what you have it would go something like:

Will attempts to commit suicide after his fiance leaves him. Faced with being committed to a mental ward, he moves in with his estranged step-brother. He slowly begins to rediscover joy in life as he befriends his niece. Unfortunately, Will's worried boss thinks what he needs is another woman and introduces Will to his hedonistic cousin. A blurred week of parties ends with Will stumbling home to find his niece passed out from sunstroke. He rushed her to the hospital. She dies and he commits suicide out of guilt/She lives and he feels like he's successful again so he turns his relationships around and lives HEA.

Tidy it up so it's closer to what the book is about, then fill in the most important details until you hit the word limit.

Make sure you are using words correctly and that your pronoun antecedents are clear.

Good luck

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This sounds like a story full of unpleasant people who don't like each other.

Anonymous said...

Your synopsis was telling us all about the characters themselves, not what actually happens in the story. It leads me to suspect that the story itself is largely backstory, not actual adventure.

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm the person writing this, Anonymous on the 1/8 (wish I had your name), thank you for the detailed crit, it's the most useful thing here. i had no idea how unclear some of this actually was and tbh when I wrote the synopsis (the finished shorter one) I hadn't defined the plot properly, it was more of a "it will go something like this", so it must come across that way in it's lack of clarity - lol. I haven't even finished the draft of the book but I thought doing this on EE would give me advice before I'd written a whole dud book. But um where on earth did you get the sunstroke thing? In the word disaster?

back to the drawing board.

Anonymous 8/1 5:39 said...

The sunstroke thing was me trying to guess at a logical ending since none was provided, probably dredged up from my subconscious by word association with sunflowers.

Good luck finishing your book. Don't forget to read over your draft and revise where necessary.

SB said...

The Ada thing makes me think this is a manic pixie dream girl story, to which I say, no thank you.

Anonymous said...

Something about this left me feeling really uneasy. All the women in Will's life are described as either abandoning him, being ferocious, being "Whacko," or making half-baked decisions.... until he meets a four year old girl that he wants to spend all of his time with. It made me think that he's distrustful of/hateful toward adult women, and fetishizes the innocence of a four year old girl.

I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to be harsh, but I can't be the only one feeling like Will shouldn't be left alone with that child. If that wasn't your intention, I would take a long look at how Will views the women in his life. Not one of them sounded like a real person to me.