Friday, August 07, 2009

Synopsis 20

Abriel Jones thinks she may have found something exciting about her life in a mysterious man who visits to lull her to sleep. [You know your life is dull when the only exciting part of it puts you to sleep.] But when he leaves, she fears her life has relapsed to the way it had been. [Isn't she asleep when he leaves?] On her seventeenth birthday, she receives more than she bargained for when she sends her boyfriend flying across the room. [What did she bargain for?] If she had known what she did, Drei—her former mystery visitor—wouldn’t have needed to save her from a run-in with two drunks. [I'm lost, and I think it's because you didn't give me a map. What does "If she had known what she did" mean? If she had known she threw her boyfriend across the room? How could she not know that? Did she do it while sleeping? I can guess that what you're trying to say is that if she had known last week that she was Wonder Woman, she would have beaten those drunks who were bothering her to a pulp. In which case the drunks have nothing whatsoever to do with your main plot.]

Once she’s recovered from her traumatic birthday, she meets Drei for a midnight coffee. [I assume from her age that she lives with her parents. Does she tell them she's going out for a midnight coffee with a guy who's been coming into her bedroom to lull her to sleep?] Drei explains that she’s an air elemental—a person who can manipulate the air. Though it wasn’t what she wanted, [You mean it wasn't what she wanted for her birthday? It's not necessary to tell us that her birthday wish wasn't the ability to manipulate the air.] it’s not long before she’s grown used to having this new power and freely experiments to entertain herself. [For instance, she manipulates air into her lungs through the power of inhalation, then manipulates it out through exhalation.] [I, too, entertain myself this way--in fact, I do it every chance I get.]

Drei scolds her when he finds out, explaining the threat from the government: bounty hunters. People hired specifically to track elementals and turn them into labs for experimentation. [Wouldn't a person who can turn an elemental into a lab be considered an elemental elemental?] [Shouldn't Drei have explained the threat from the government when he told her she was an elemental?] She doesn’t believe him until a bounty hunter shows up at her school, posing as a college scout. [How does she know he's a bounty hunter, and not a college scout?] In an attempt to avoid a repeat encounter, [What encounter does she want to avoid repeating?] Abriel works to forget anything changed her on her birthday. Then she loses control of her powers at school. [We want to know what happens, specifically, when she loses control of her powers.] Abriel no longer feels safe in her life, so she takes Drei up on his previous offer of protection. [You forgot to tell us about his offer.]

She didn’t think protection would equate to a rundown camp and babysitting younger earth and water elementals. [They spend their time playing earth water air, which is like rock paper scissors except players constantly argue over what beats what:

Air elemental: Air beats water.
Water elemental: Bulls#@t! (Conjures tidal wave)
Air elemental: Oh yeah? (Creates tornado)
Earth elemental: Knock it off or I'll bury the both of youse under lava.
Water elemental: You and what army of elementals?]

Even if she comes to fancy the idea of being looked up to and finally leading a less shallow life, she can’t help feeling isolated from everyone.

Until Nick appears, that is. He shouldn’t be there—he’s not an elemental and little is known about him. But there’s something about him that makes Abriel feel less lonely. [Is it located between his belly button and his knees?] It isn’t long before she convinces Drei to let Nick stay, and not much longer before he winds his way into her heart.

After a fight, Abriel decides it’s time to tell Nick the truth about her being an elemental—something Drei’s insisted she keep secret. Her revelation is soiled when they begin arguing and Nick lets slip he’s a bounty hunter. [It's soiled?] Hurt and upset, Abriel does what she knows she has to: tell Drei. [Why isn't Nick turning her into a lab?]

She doesn’t need Drei to tell her Nick—and consequently, she—has endangered everyone. But after a near-death experience, saying goodbye to Nick, and moving to a new campground, it seems everything has worked out. [Why isn't Nick turning her into a lab?] But there’s one thing more Abriel wants to do before her nineteenth birthday, even if she has no idea how it’ll work out. Having put it off for nearly two years, she’s going to tell Drei how she really feels about him. [Which is?]


I want to know exactly what an air elemental can do. Can she create a vacuum around a bounty hunter so he can't breathe? Can she play a mean trombone?

How old is Drei?

If revealing she's an elemental has endangered everyone, why doesn't anything bad happen to anyone? If a bounty hunter makes it into a camp for elementals, you'd expect him to either be killed or to leave with an elemental.

The powers of an elemental don't seem that great if a bounty hunter can capture one.

Why wasn't Abriel an elemental before her 17th birthday? The other elementals are younger than 17.

There are too many unclear phrases and too many extraneous details. The plot is this:

1. Abriel turns 17 and suddenly becomes an air elemental.
2. She's unable to control her power so she leaves her home and family and school to move into Drei's camp for elementals.
3. Bounty hunter Nick shows up, endangering everyone.

Everything in the synopsis should relate directly to those items. Expand #1 by telling us what an air elemental can do and why Abriel has become one. Expand #2 by telling us what happened at school when Abriel lost control and what Drei offers to do for her. #3 Explain the danger and why Nick does nothing. Better yet, show the danger by having Nick do something. Can't he at least snatch one elemental and then come back for more? A bounty hunter hits the elemental mother lode and just fades out?


Mame said...

Didn't make it past the first sentence.

(WHY do I always feel like a b*tch for saying that?)

Anonymous said...

Struggled to make sense of paragraph 1 with the hope it would get better, but gave up after par 2.

There are perhaps 15,000,000 ways for a fictional character to 'discover' she has 'super power' -- some grippingly exciting, clever, and breathtakingly imaginative, others not. Hearing it from some dude over coffee is just a] not convincing, and b] too low on the clever and exciting scale to attract much of readerly investment your would-be agent needs to pay her bills.

Please review some popular books in which protagonists discover they have 'super power'. Then exercise your imagination and rewrite.

Evil Editor said...

I think the super power discovery comes when she sends her boyfriend flying across the room. Over coffee she learns she's an air elemental.

Anonymous said...

So the muddle of Paragraph 1 combined with P 2 == that was a supernaturally flying boyfriend?

Maybe I'm jaded by working in the criminal justice system, a world wherein perfectly ordinary individuals routinely send their 'friends' and relatives flying. As described here the airborne bf incident sounds like plain old domestic violence, not the stuff of remarkable imaginative invention.

Evil Editor said...

My guess is she sent him flying by manipulating the gas, not manhandling the ass.

Anonymous said...

As written paragraph 1 describes an ordinary bitch on an ordinary binge. If you want these events to sound magical and enchanted, the synopsis needs a total rewrite.

Anonymous said...

A mysterious mans appears to lull her to sleep? Are you kidding? A mysterious man shows up in my life - I'm not going to sleep, call the police most likely but I open to other options. Sleeping is not one of them.

Her life has relapsed to where it has been? The visit makes her want to drink, do drugs?

Okay I am now lost - Did Drei save her from the drunks and then lull her to sleep? So she throws her boyfriend across the room for being a jerk. Nice powers if you can get it, but shouldn't she have been able to do this before? Children tend to smack their playmates pretty routinely when they don't get their way and have a significantly lower frustration threshold. they have to learn to control their emotions.

You know Drei was not doing his job. He should have warned her using her powers would result in her being kidnapped. By the way who is Drei? Secret elemental protection police?

If the babysitting gig didn't work out - she should just change her identity and start a new life. Nick just happens to show up and convinces everyone that he should get to stay even though he could be a bounty hunter and he is not an elemental?

I give up.

There is a lot of plot problems.


_*rachel*_ said...

Drei just sounds creepy. If a guy showed up in my room late at night, I'd scream for my parents and throw books at him.

Phidelm said...

Ah, EE - arrived here via Michelle (thesurlywriter). This post made me laugh my socks off: a cringe-making reminder of the days when I fancied myself as a Writer (note the capital letter), as opposed to a hack, and inflicted - yes, oh the horror, the horror of it - no less than 3 truly terrible novels on various agents!
Not really the kind of laugh I'd want, ideally; but can well see your POV. Greetings from an expat Brit in France - and good luck to you!

none said...

And she's a bitch, because...?

150 said...

[Is it located between his belly button and his knees?]

*laughs hysterically*

Jeb said...

I feel a bit bitchy for admitting that this is one of the few queries for which I tried to only read the blue bits.

The most comprehensible part of this is (are?) the final paragraphs of the Evil One's notes. A masterful decryption, sir.

Faceless Minion said...

Probably just me...
I first read 'turns them into labs' with a definition of transmutate for 'turns them into' (elemental creatures into buildings *snigger*) Second thought was labs as in labrador retrievers. I think the disconnect came because the bounty hunters (presumably) aren't the ones doing the experimentation. They're getting money/vengence/or something out of the exchange.

As others have said, sounds like the plot has problems. I think they're fixable.

Things that haven't been mentioned yet:
Why is the government experimenting on elementals? This doesn't need to be in the synopsis (or query) but it should be clear in the book (and I'm curious). How long has it been going on and how is it secret if they're openly paying people to kidnap children off the street (bounty hunter usually means not a government employed agent)?

What does Nick do and what are his motivations (both stated and not)?

Does Drei come and go or is he at the camp with them?

Faceless Minion said...

I think I figured out the reason I thought 'transmute' for 'turns into',

word 'elemental' associates with 'alchemy', in alchemy 'turns into' associates with 'transmutes'. As I said, this part was probably just me.

Evil Editor said...

I think the disconnect came because . . .

No, the problem is that the expression the author was going for is "turns them in" to labs.

Turning them "into" labs requires magic.

However, even "turns them in" is a bit off, as it conveys the meaning that they've done something wrong and are being given over to the authorities. Change it to "turns them over" to labs; it's more accurate and won't be confusing if you ever have to read the passage aloud.

Faceless Minion said...

Thanks E.E.

That is the reason my brain was parsing incorrectly. (I tried typing it out with the space and compared)

Steve Wright said...

I have problems with this business about the bounty hunters ... Suppose Drei doesn't show up, or alternatively Nick does his job. Does Abriel not have civil rights, in this setting? What about her parents? Are they not going to kick up a fuss, if she disappears? If they're told she's being vivisected by government scientists, are they going to take this news quietly?

For that matter, working in one of these labs can't be a barrel of laughs, can it? "Today, we will be experimenting on Dwayne Carter, a fire elemental. Dwayne is seventeen, hates our guts, and can incinerate us just by looking at us. As usual, attendants will be standing by with buckets of water." It's not a job I'd go for, even in the current economy.

(I suppose the government could countersue Mr. and Mrs. Jones, claiming child abuse for giving her a silly name like Abriel. And the Joneses would fight back, claiming this sort of thing does no damage; Satiety Wherret gets called as a supporting witness for both sides; basically, the whole situation becomes a terrible mess.)

I mean, seriously; if you wanted to recruit elementals into a secret government program, offering them college scholarships and civil service pensions is going to be more effective, and probably cheaper, than sending bounty hunters after them.

Xiexie said...

I don't have a problem with the supposed bounty hunters. These are kids; they most likely don't have complete control over their powers. I don't know if any other minions watched the TV show, Heroes, but the most recent season was all about the government secretly hunting people with powers. It was difficult to do, but combined with specially trained operatives and surprise tactics, the government was largely successful. It's not a stretch for me to believe that the government could make people disappear and get away with it -- to a point.

Now with the rest of this synopsis:

Cut the first part or rewrite that. Or maybe tell us why Drei lulls Abriel to sleep. Is this really germane to the plot? Can he not just simply be some hot, older guy (and I hope that means somewhere in his 20s -- early 20s) that Abriel has met? Or maybe he's just in college. Y'know, the guy who sneaks in and they hang out at night unbeknown to Abriel's parents.

I also think that the girlfriend injuring boyfriend when discovering powers has been done before. Why not have ur toss one of her parents? I bet they'd be even more willing to let her go to the camp.

By the way, how do they feel about her going to the camp? I would just like to know, that doesn't have to go in the synopsis.

There are other plot holes and I think they have already been addressed.

My final comment: creepy, alluring, secret-to-parent(s) guy who lulls girl to sleep, and who also saved her from a run-in with two drunks ---> sounds like Edward and Bella from Twilight. And much as I hated that series, the comparison easily came up in my head. I'm sure this will be better than that series though, it sounds like you aren't afraid of true conflict....but I'll leave Stephanie Meyer alone.

(I don't think I've ever left a comment this long before.)

_*rachel*_ said...

Hey, I didn't even read that series, and I still made the connection--mostly because I heard scraps of a radio guy saying maybe it wasn't as great an abstinence deal as people were saying because this sort of thing is pretty creepy.

I think you'd better start from scratch for this synopsis. With both the query and synopsis, I think we've all had some trouble finding some things logical. It probably makes sense in the story, but it's going to take some practice for these.

Steve Wright said...

Frankly, I think the Sekrit Conspiracy of EEEvil Gubmint sp00ks is a fairly naff element in Heroes, too ... one of several reasons I gave up watching that show.

In fact, come to think of it, it was pretty naff in Mutant X, a few years back ... and that's not the earliest example, either. Let's face it, folks, this plot element is a pretty shopworn cliché by now.

Which is not to say it's the only problem I have with this synopsis. There is, for instance, Abriel herself, blowing her biggest and most closely-guarded secret to someone she barely knows, just because she's thinking with her crotch. And what the other named characters think they're doing, I really do not know.

As things stand, this has all the hallmarks of what they call an idiot plot - not (I hasten to add) a plot written by an idiot; a plot that only works because all the people in it act like idiots. Maybe their plans and motivations come across more believably in the actual novel, but in this synopsis they look pretty daft. I think it needs to be reworked to make the plot sound more credible.

Eric P. said...

My comment seems to have vanished into the void, but I'll try again in brief--

1) Drei suspects nothing when a total stranger shows up wanting to check out his secret facility? And he lets said stranger stay just because a 17-year-old girl has the hots for him? Either Drei is meant to be a total idiot or you have a plot hole that I could fly a black helicopter through.

2) It's a story about people with superpowers to control nature. This leads one to expect action, adventure, danger, wonder, mystery, things blowing up. Instead we have mostly an angsty teen romance set mostly in the most boring campground ever. Something's missing. I never thought I'd say this, but you need to take some pages from the X-Men playbook. What would Wolverine do?