Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Synopsis 58

JAY spends all his free time high upon the cliffs of Dover, watching the sailing ships below. All he wants is to go to the sea, far away from the grief that lingers at home.

When his father introduces him to his uncle, a Portuguese merchant, he joins his ship. TRISTAO, RUI and MIGUEL try to help him, [Who are they?] but he does not trust anyone. [Try to help him do what? Why doesn't he trust anyone? Joining the crew of a ship on which you trust no one: not too smart.] [Too many pronouns in this paragraph.]

Arriving in Lisboa, Jay puts himself in his uncle’s service. [Not sure what that means. Didn't he put himself in his uncle's service when he joined the ship's crew?] His travels lead him to Venice where he meets a tavern wench, LAURA, who both puzzles and intrigues him.

With every journey he makes, he grows closer to Laura. This frightens him and he escapes, [Escapes? He's been leaving every time his ship leaves Venice. How is this any different?] joining his friends on an adventure. Not all goes as planned [What was the plan and what actually happened?] and adrift on the ocean, Jay reflects on his life.

He returns to Venice, but finds that Laura has a husband and a child. [How long was he gone?] Embittered [Crushed?] he leaves her behind. [What other option was there? Move in with them?] 

Years later, Jay sails to England to see his dying father. Grieving, he returns to Lisboa and stays at land for a while. He is restless until he meets JOANA, who resembles Laura.

He again does not dare to get too close and Jay flees to the sea. During his next journey [voyage], he considers all that has happened and finds that he does not want to lose Joana too and upon his return, he marries her.

Meanwhile Rui struggles with life aboard and Jay gives him a position at land, helping Joana managing his affairs. [Something tells me his affairs aren't the affairs he should be worried about.] He is restless as ever, and his daughter’s birth does not change that. When she dies shortly after, he runs away once again, leaving Rui behind to comfort Joana. Over the years Jay finds that Rui becomes more important to her than he. When war rises again, [Again? There was a war?] he desperately tries to find death in battle. Miguel takes the blow in his place and Jay survives, troubled that his friend died because of him. [At least now he can finally trust Miguel.]

Guiltily, he decides to leave so Joana can be happy with Rui. However, Tristão exposes Joana’s adultery and forces her and Rui to go into exile. [When you're leaving your wife with another man so they can be happy, adultery is pretty much assumed, and doesn't need to be exposed.] Jay realises he does not want to be alone anymore and accepts to stay close to those that care for him. [Who are we talking about? Joana and Rui?]

Twenty years after, a man knocks at his door. He tells about his mother, and Jay finds Laura did not abandon him after all. [It was never suggested that she abandoned him. He got her pregnant, then left Venice long enough for her to get married and give birth. If anyone was abandoned, it was Laura.] The boy was his son and finally, he is at peace. [His son is now in his thirties. He missed out on his son's entire life. And he's at peace? I'd be tormented by the knowledge that some other guy raised my son while I was off feeling bitter and trying to get killed.]


These short paragraphs give the feeling of an outline. A list of some things that happen. To some extent that's what a synopsis is, but if you want to tell a story, you don't want years to pass between every two sentences. And you need to tell the story with more specificity. Some of this is vague: Jay reflects on his life. He considers all that has happened. Some of it is repetitive: he stays at land for a while; Jay flees to the sea; he runs away once again; he decides to leave; he accepts to stay.

It's hard to focus on the most important plot line when the book covers 35+ years of the MC's life. Maybe the synopsis (if not the book) should start when Daniel meets Laura on a stopover in Venice.


InkAndPixelClub said...

I get that initially, Jay wants to escape from his home and the grief caused by his sister's death (though the synopsis should probably include that). But after he does escape, I'm not sure what he wants anymore. That and the vagueness of his time spent considering his life makes it hard to understand his actions or why the knowledge that Laura's son was his brings him peace.

Get specific about what happens and how it affects Jay. He wants to escape because "grief lingers at home" is not informative. "Because his sister died" is better. "Because his beloved sister died and home feels empty without her" or "because his sister's sudden death has eat his parents distant and emotionally numb" is better still. Same applies to Jay's reflections on his life. What happens to set him adrift in the ocean? How does he get back to land? What does he realize about his life while he's out there and why? What makes him realize he actually wants to be with Joana?

Anonymous said...

I realize there's not a lot of room for a time-spanning historical epic in a synopsis. You don't need to include all the details, only the ones that will enable you to tell the complete through-line of the story. It might help to start small and build until you run out of room. Maybe start with your conclusion:

In his old age, Jay finds peace after being visited by the son he never knew he had.

Reaching back in time (and into the story), add a few sentence as to why this is the result of the visit and why he never knew he had a son, being as specific as possible. Rearrange the sentences if necessary so you don't repeat information.

While a young sailor, Jay falls in love with a tavern wench, Laura, in Lisboa. On a return trip to Lisboa, he finds Laura has married and has a son. In his old age, Jay is visited by Laura's son who informs Jay he's his father. This discovery by an unknown relative helps Jay find closure to losing his own sister at a young age.

Add more sentences building on the story until you run out of room.

I realize my guesses here aren't going to be accurate accurate, but I hope they help you see what I mean.

Good Luck

St0n3henge said...

"This frightens him and he escapes, joining his friends on an adventure."
Escapes what? Service on the ship? Are the friends TRISTAO, RUI and MIGUEL? What adventure? What goes wrong?

I agree that if anyone was abandoned, it was Laura. You can't just visit every once and a while like Santa Claus and call that a relationship. People need people who are actually there.

There's a whole lot of grieving, not trusting, going out to sea and doing non-specific things, feeling guilty, and reflecting on life. What does Jay DO, though? It almost seems like part of the story is missing.
You mention war briefly, but not which war or what his position is. Or how Miguel dies. Cannonball? Flaming arrow?

Why does Tristao care about Joana's adultery? Is he involved with her, too? Or is he involved with Rui? This seems like something one would do out of bitterness. It comes across as pointlessly cruel.

I feel part of it is confusing or vague, and part of it seems dull. I really want to spice it up a bit. Besides the one-millisecond mention of a war, what happens? For instance, when you say "adrift on the ocean," do you mean shipwrecked? If so, say so, for crying out loud. It is much more exciting than "adrift."

I feel like you're focusing on the wrong things here. Unless your story is literally just about a sailor's changing moods, put in the parts that make people want to read it.