Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Synopsis 53

I have decided that before sending the query letter I will send the synopsis to you so you can know the story and help when I write the query letter because you will know the background. Thank you for the patience you have shown with me. Please judge this synopsis and if you don't mind I will send a revised query letter soon. Thank you so much. Its very nice of you to give me the opportunity to improve my writing, query and synopsis.


ZUHAIR is the youngest son of ZORAB. Zorab is king of Azaria, and has two older sons other than Zuhair.

Zuhair is in the city of Katraden, a part of Azaria but with some cultural differences. Here a seer reveals a rebellion has taken place in the capital of Azaria and Zorab is trapped in the castle by a cult. Only Zuhair can and wants to free his father because the commanders of the army are trapped with Zorab in the castle and the armies of Azaria [are] confused and disorganized. GHORIL, eldest son of Zorab is trapped in the same castle but the second son FRAJOR is in the capital near the castle and is plotting to take the throne. Frajor waits patiently for [after] the cult to kill[s] his father and brother.

In Katraden, the local count JAAGA offers support and Zuhair leads an army from the city to defeat the cult. They march through the countryside but are spotted by a team of Azarian spies who believe they are rebels from Katraden taking advantage of the cults [cult's] rebellion to invade Azaria. This misconception is caused because the troops wear the clothing of Katraden and the soldiers talk in their language. Katraden is also distrusted by common Azarians. The spies manage to relay this information to Zorab after creating a diversion in the cult camp in the capital, fighting a vicious battle with the cultists surrounding the gate and racing towards the castle gates later.

Meanwhile some of the Katraden soldiers show hesitation to obey Zuhair's orders and instead look to Jaaga for instructions. However when they clear a city on the way to the Azarian capital, fighting together, they begin to respect Zuhair. In this city Zuhair augments his army with troops provided by local commanders and nobles. Jaaga plays a hefty role in convincing the selfish and power hungry nobles to fight and join their army to free the capital. The army is now a joint Azarian-Katraden force.

After fighting a major battle with the cult in the capital, Zuhair ends the blockade of the royal castle and crushes the cult. But distrust sparks when the archers and siege engines at the walls of Zorab's castle shower Zuhair and Jaaga's joint army with arrows and siege ammunition, some of which kills Katraden soldiers as they come nearer to the castle. The archers firing at Zuhair's men have been provided information [informed] by the spies that their [approaching] army wants to take Azaria rather than save it and they do not know Zuhair is part of it. The situation is tense and Katraden soldiers suspect they have been led into a trap. But Zuhair personally goes with his banner to edge of the walls under a hail of arrow fire. Zorab recognizes him and his banner and opens the gate, eventually welcoming Zuhair, Jaaga and his senior commanders with a lavish feast.

The spies are exiled for providing incorrect intelligence. But Frajor is frustrated because the cult failed to kill his father and brothers. He successfully poisons Zorab and tries to poison the two prince's [princes] in a bid to rule the kingdom himself. Although he escapes suspicion by murdering his own man, responsible for poisoning the king upon his instructions, he now has to be careful though he has intentions of slaying the princes too.

Ghoril is crowned the new king of Azaria in a ceremony. Zuhair is the first to take an oath to defend him and nobles and commanders follow suit.


1) Should I include the fact that Tavulun has recently crushed a rebellion north of his territory and seeks to invade Azaria? He is eventually stopped by an invasion from his west and his attention is diverted.  No.

2) I have changed the storyline and though Frajor will be caught for killing the king it will happen in the second book. You told me to focus more on the family dynamics in the query letter. However the story has changed because I have expanded the book into two books.

3) Should I mention the cult in the query letter? The problem is almost 3/5th of the book focuses on the fight with the cult. Thus it is an important part of the query. You said I should mention rebels instead of cultists but shouldn't I be specific? Because another rebellion is being planned in the northwest and will be there in the second book. I consider rebels more likely to succeed in entering a castle and subduing soldiers than a cult would be, but I guess it depends on how you define a cult in this world. If you call them a cult in the book, yes you should call them that in the query.

4) Ghoril while he is trapped in the castle leads a group of his royal bodyguard on a suicide mission to fight the cult which can get him killed. His recklessness loses him the respect of Zorab and his council, which is trapped in the castle with him. Should this be included? No.

5) Before Zorab, the king is poisoned he writes a document declaring Zuhair will be heir instead of Ghoril because of his heroics in defeating the cult and Ghoril's equal recklessness. The entire council of Zorab wants Zuhair to be heir and he acts on their advice though he does not have time to tell anyone he has made the decision. But Zorab is poisoned by Frajor before he can enforce the order. However the document is lying on his study table. Ghoril comes to this table when he is searching for information on who poisoned Zorab and burns the document so that no one suspects he is no longer heir. Should all of this be mentioned? Depends on how long a synopsis you are writing. All we need to know is that the king chose Zuhair, but died without telling anyone.

6) The ending is not optimistic. Is that a problem? But I intend to write a second novel and a third one based on the same kingdom. The second one too will not have an optimistic ending though the third one might. You can't assume that you will be able to sell three books. Thus this book needs an ending that feels like an ending. Leaving some loose ends to be resolved later is okay, but this book should stand on its own. That doesn't mean it must be optimistic, but I don't recommend ending with a sense of hopelessness.

I've attempted to trim the synopsis, but the missing words, wordiness, punctuation errors and some missing commas will not be your friend when trying to convince an agent to represent your book.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Face-Lift 1325

Guess the Plot

The Gift of Malachi

1. Turns out the holy book has one last chapter. However, due to spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, the messenger did not feel it worthy of inclusion. Now the fate of the world rests within its faulty text, as long as nothing is misinterpreted.

2. Annie has been set up on so many blind dates she's considering learning braille. The latest installment arrives on her doorstep on Christmas Eve wearing a large red bow. Only a large red bow.

3. To reward the doctor from Karachi who cured his splotchy skin, Malachi hires a Mariachi band to perform while the doctor's grilling on a hibachi. The doctor's wife is not amused . . . until he buys her a Versace bag.

4. In post-Civil War Nevada, thirteen-year-old Malachi helps a grizzled old miner to protect an ancient Mesopotamian object from the immortal necromancer who'll stop at nothing to get it. Normally, a kid wouldn't be much help, but I haven't told you about Malachi's "gift."

5. When Chinese psychic Chin Tong declares that the energy of the universe is being sucked dry, he coins the term "malachi." But newscasters mispronounce the term, and people think he's predicted a bad year for chai tea. A run on tea stores leads to a shortage, until Chai tea becomes the world's most valuable commodity and the world economy implodes.

6. The definition of a gifted child is the top 0.5% of that age group...plus your own kid. Malachi's parents are overbearing and pushy, bullying Malachi to study an extra 5 hours per day and harassing his teachers to recognize his gifts. But Malachi's gift lies in an entirely unexpected area: summoning poltergeists and directing them at those to whom he owes pain and terror... 

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor:

A thirteen-year-old son of a former slave finds himself entangled, first in the dream world, then in the real world, in an impossible battle to the death in the American Old West with an evil necromancer who seemingly cannot die. [Battling to the death with someone who's immortal is like trying to eat oatmeal with an ice pick. Or, to misquote Vizzini, "Never go in against someone who can't die when death is on the line!"] [We don't need a "hook" at the beginning, especially if most of it is going to be repeated in the next sentence.]

Malachi Moses Washington is a thirteen-year-old son of a former slave who had moved with his mother to the mining town of Virginia City, Nevada [Gol dang it, now ah'm gonna have the Bonanza theme running through mah head all day.] soon after the U. S. Civil War. [Not that I would expect anyone to misinterpret that, but "who had moved with his mother to the mining town of Virginia City" could refer to the former slave rather than to Malachi. Perhaps: Malachi Moses Washington, the thirteen-year-old son of a former slave, moves with his mother...] In the turbulent Old West, Malachi and his mother struggle to eke out a living for themselves and escape the residual racism of 19th century America.

Malachi finds himself part of a small group of characters including a war veteran gunslinger, an elderly Scottish professor, and a young Scottish doctor [Apparently you couldn't swing a dead cat in 1875 Nevada without hitting a Scottish guy.] [Aha! According to the Online Nevada Encyclopedia, "Although Scots were one of the larger groups to settle North America, the Irish and Cornish eclipsed them in Nevada." Consider making your doctor Cornish. It's funnier.] [For those who aren't familiar with the Cornish, they're people from Cornwall in England, famous mainly for the delicious game hens they introduced to Nevada in the 1860s.] [Also, those don't sound like the sort of people Malachi would just "find himself" hanging out with. What brought them together?] when an old miner appears with an ancient Mesopotamian object

[Scottish professor: Whit ur ye holdin' in yer hain, auld timer?

Grizzled old miner: This? Oh, just . . . an ancient Mesopotamian object.]

and tales of a man of pure evil determined to do him harm.

Soon after this, Malachi has disturbing dreams of each of the men that include a strange “man in grey.” This man seems to hold knowledge of each of them and maliciously accuses them of past wrongdoings. The man in grey is relentlessly pursuing the old miner, and now this new group, in an effort to retrieve the ancient object, but the old miner insists it is necessary to “hold his devils at bay.” [If you mean the miner's devils, shouldn't that be, since it's in quotes, "to hold my devils at bay"?] The group realizes that Malachi is somehow the key to uniting them and staving off the man in grey’s assault. [Is this all in Malachi's dreams, or did we come back to the real world at some point in the paragraph? If the latter, starting a new paragraph when we're back in reality would help.] [Does Malachi do something that causes everyone to realize he's the key?]

Malachi learns what the old miner means by "his devils" [Was "his devils" a phrase Malachi dreamed the miner used, or did he actually say it?] as numerous recently dead corpses rise from the local graveyard and threatened him and his friends in a chase through the silver mines of 1875 Nevada. [You've waited this long to mention that you have zombies in your book? Those should be worked into the first sentence: A thirteen-year-old son of a former slave finds himself entangled, first in the dream world, with a man whose wardrobe consists of fifty shades of grey, then in the real world, with the walking dead.] [Note that by subtly mentioning a very popular book and TV show, you can subliminally suggest that your book, once published, will be equally popular.]

Miraculously [After] surviving the attack through perilous, and often ingenious, means, Malachi then returns to the surface to find out that the man in grey has physically arrived in Virginia City himself. Malachi was able to fend off his evil plot in the dream world, [but] can he now face him in the real world? [Facing him is the easy part. Can he vanquish him?]

THE GIFT OF MALACHI is a 62,000 word Middle-Grade Fantasy novel. Thank you for your valuable time and advice.

Best regards,


Does the miner mention what will happen if the man in grey gets hold of the ancient Mesopotamian object? Because that would help us know what's at stake. Does he want it because it will grant him three wishes or because it will complete his collection or because it will make him the supreme ruler of the universe?

Doesn't this object resemble anything enough that you can give it a more specific name than "object"? Like knife or amulet or falcon statuette? Even artifact would be better.

Unless it's not important to the plot, it might be a good idea to spell out what Malachi's gift is.

Is racism a theme of the book? They moved to Nevada to escape racism, but if the Nevada part of the story doesn't involve racism, maybe the query shouldn't mention it. If it does involve racism, you might say how.

Is the man in grey called that because he's not a flashy dresser? Because if I had a dream about a strange man of pure evil, I doubt I would wake up remembering that his clothes were grey. It would be like remembering that when he bit off your nose, Hannibal Lecter was wearing brown socks. Also, note that Hannibal's nickname was the Cannibal, not the man in drab.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Monday, August 08, 2016

Face-Lift 1324

Guess the Plot

Desert Gold

1. Following a recipe with a few typos, a famous chef embarks upon an odyssey that will ensure he wins the international cooking Olympics. Pay no attention to the hungry jhinn. 

2. After crash landing in the middle of the desert, Will isn't sure how thankful he is to be alive. While he may have miraculously survived without a scratch, any other supplies did not. Now he must make his way through this wasteland searching for something more precious than gold: water. 

3. They say water is worth more than diamonds in the desert, but when Mob runs out of water while traveling endless sands under the blistering sun his pee may be . . . desert gold. 

4. To escape a forced marriage, Rajani crosses a desert, ending up in an abandoned city where she--WHOA! Giant insects suddenly burst from the ground, insects so big they could kill humans, but insects that also have a secret hoard of gold Rajani could use to buy her freedom from those who would enslave her, not knowing she's actually a princess.

5. Specially created from six different types of the finest Belgian chocolate clubbed with a tinge of orange, raspberry, and acai, laced with champagne caviar, handcrafted in the style of Faberge Eggs, sprinkled with edible gold leaf and topped with a two karat diamond…oh wait, you said desert gold….

6. One-time champion palomino Tennessee walker Desert Gold is now alone, neglected and forgotten in an overgrown field. Can he convince 13 year old Megan that he's worth rehabbing?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for Desert Gold, a young adult fantasy novel complete at 82,000 words.

Seventeen year old Princess Rajani goes on the run to escape a forced marriage to the man she suspects killed her father. [Killing his fiancée's father: not the best way to demonstrate his commitment to the marriage. Unless it was her idea.] Disguised as one of the guards, she hides amid a caravan traveling across the dessert 

Caravan traveling across the dessert

to the capital where she plans to petition city officials for amnesty, request their support in solving her father’s murder, [Aren't there any local authorities to investigate this murder?] and prevent the unwanted nuptials. [I tend to think of a princess as a member of the ruling family in a monarchy. I wouldn't expect them to bring their legal affairs before city officials, especially if it's not the city they live in.]

The caravan finds the city deserted save for a militant squad of men from the north. They claim not to know why the city has been abandoned but further discussion is interrupted as a swarm of giant insects bursts from the ground. ["Giant insects" could mean insects the size of rats or insects the size of Buicks.] 

In the confusion, Rajani is gravely wounded. She awakens, recovered, in the stronghold of the northerners. Convinced she’s an assassin, the northerners offer her a choice: become a slave or accompany an expedition to track the giant insects to their hoard of gold. [What makes them think insects have a hoard of gold?] [Also, the last person I want tagging along on my expedition is an assassin, especially one I've threatened to enslave.] If the expedition succeeds, she’ll have enough gold to buy her freedom as well as the means to avenge her father. [She'd have to be pretty naive to believe these militants are gonna let her buy her freedom with gold acquired on their expedition. They just want her to carry some of the gold back to their stronghold, after which they'll take it and enslave her.]

Rajani agrees to accompany Anthony, the expedition leader, as his bodyguard. [If I'm hiring a bodyguard because I'm worried about assassins, it's not gonna be someone I'm already convinced is an assassin.] As her feeling [feelings] for him grow, she wonders[colon] if she reveals to him who she truly is, will he still admire her [Why does he admire her?] or ransom her back to her fiancé [If she doesn't trust him not to ransom her, I don't see any upside to telling him who she truly is. Not that he'd believe her anyway.] - that is if the giant insects don’t kill them first?

Thank you for your time and attention.



Was Princess Rejani's father the king? If so, who's in charge now that he's dead? If it's Rajani or her mother or one of her siblings, it seems like she should be able to get out of this wedding without crossing a desert. Sure, maybe the marriage is supposed to prevent a war, but now that the king is dead, war is inevitable.

Is there evidence that her fiancé murdered her father? Did he have a motive? 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Visiting EE Jr.

Click pic to enlarge.

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 fiancé 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-fiancé, 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.