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.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to tell you that your writing is simply not of professional quality yet. If English is not your native language, write in your native language. If English is your native language, take some writing classes.

InkAndPixelClub said...

Splitting the story into multiple books may be a good idea, but we still need a satisfying story arc in this book. Even if it did somehow end with Zuhair being crowned king, I'm not sure it would be enough. The problem in every draft I've seen so far is that there's no sense of Zuhair growing or changing over the course of the story. He's a good, noble, brave, strong, prince at the beginning and a good, noble, brave, strong prince at the end. If he doesn't have to learn and work to solve his problems, then it's not a very interesting story, no matter how many battle scenes there are.

Anonymous said...

The problem here is, I'm paying more attention to writing errors and awkward language use than I am to your summary of the story. If this is representative of the way the book is written, it is not ready for publication.

If you send it out, remember that anyone who wants you to give them money up front is not a legitimate agent. Agents get money after they sell your work. When the publisher pays you, they get a portion of that money.

Working on a second book is only going to help you if the second book is a complete story by itself, without either the first book or the third to support it. Ditto for the third book. That being said, working on a second or third book that does work as a stand alone novel is more practice writing, so go for it.

Read more, write more, and keep improving your skills. You will eventually get there.

As for the synopsis, I think you have most of the information you need. It could be stated a bit clearer and be better organized. You also occasionally have an unnecessary level of detail.

Mister Furkles said...

Author, do you know how your novel, when finished, will be shelved in a bookstore? It doesn't seem to be fantasy because there is no magic nor any fantastic creatures. It certainly is not historical fiction. It may be difficult to find a publisher unless it is clear how the book can be classified.

If you rewrite taking the advice of EE, Anon, and I&PC, consider making it a fantasy book by including either some wizards or some fantastic creatures.

Who but fantasy readers would be interested in this kind of novel? I may be off base and EE may correct me if there is some genera of this kind.

Join a good crit group. There are some online. Remember that writing is a craft that can be learned with practice.

Anonymous said...

I'm not well versed in writing synopsises, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

The beginning is very name heavy, and reminds me of info-dumping. To simplify, I would start with the meat of your story, which to me seems like when the younger son gets word of the cult invasion. (I can't remember which name goes where.) Only name the others as needed to unfold the storyline.

Also, does the cult have a name? While dropping some character names, I think adding the cult name may be an intriguing detail.

Good luck with revisions. Synopsises are difficult. Don't give up.

Anonymous said...

@Mister Furkles

David Gemmell was well known for his fantasy novels which didn't involve much in the way of magic or fantastical creatures. There are plenty of other authors as well. This book would be classified as fantasy.

Unknown said...

Thanks for yet another critique, EE. I will use the shortened version with a few edits to include Zorab's will has been burnt by Ghoril. Thanks for answering my questions and thanks everyone for the advice.

EE, thank you. I hope I learn from this.

St0n3henge said...

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

You mention Zorab and Zuhair twice, and say Zuhair is the youngest twice. This is a synopsis. It has to be more compact.

I would have said, “ZUHAIR is the youngest of the three sons of ZORAB, king of Azaria.”
Wham. Bam. Done.

“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 is a serious bunch of clauses strung together. You used five prepositions in one sentence. This sort of thing can get confusing. Make sure you don't lose sight of your subject and object.

“This misconception is caused because...” Caused because?

“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.” 
I really don't know what's going on here. There's a diversionary tactic, a battle, then “racing toward the gates,” which sounds like you're trying to say “rushing the gates,” which won't work if the gates are closed. At some point Zorab receives information.

This synopsis is confusing, partly because of all the place names and strange names being used so close together. You have to stop and think which one is Zohair, Zorab or Frajor and which country or city is which. Try to find a way to take it easier on the names.

batgirl said...

This is a really minor point, but because synopses need to be concise, it can be useful to introduce characters in action. Rather than giving a whole sentence to saying "Zuleia is the youngest daughter of the vizier" and then saying what she does in the plot, get into the plot and explain characters as they enter, within the sentence. "Hearing of the vizier's danger, his youngest daughter Zuleia sends her fleet to lift the blockade."