I’m late in blogging this week! Monday was Labor Day, a national holiday here in the US. Tuesday and Wednesday were consumed with getting my e-zine sent out. So now it’s Thursday, and I’m picking up where we left off last week.
We were discussing synopses and how to write them. I invited you to post a few paragraphs of your synopsis, if you’ve got one, and I’ll critique them. I see you’ve all been busy! Let’s get rolling then . . .
Pam wrote this one:
Fifteen-year-old Akeela lives in the forest outside the village of Broem in the country of Estinia with Krezma, the old hag who rescued her after her mother died in childbirth. Krezma took her into the deep, deep woods because she knows Akeela is no ordinary child. Akeela is destined to be the next fairy guardian.
Fairies are essential to the land. Their magic sows goodness into the ground that not only benefits the ground, it also keeps the ashes of the Dark Lord, Viss’aird, buried and, they believe, harmless. Years ago, a spell gone terribly wrong caused him to disintegrate. When his ashes were scattered from the witch’s tower, they settled into the ground. There they have been growing and recreating him into a potential power of evil so large, it would consume the entire world.
And now, an evil plan is unfolding to release the powerful Dark Lord from his slumber. The witch, Tzmet, is capturing and eating fairies in order to diminish their power until Viss’aird (her father) can rise from the ground.
Randy sez: This is good! It sets the stage for the novel in just a few paragraphs. It has about the right level of detail and it shows us the principal characters. Good job, Pam!
There was a question on whether the names will be an issue. The answer is that fantasy readers are used to weird names and expect them. These names will work just fine.
Marcus posted this excerpt from his synopsis:
From my YA novel “Unstuck”
The story begins one sparky fireside night 20 years ago at Camp Blue Sky, a teen summer camp in the Pacific Northwest. A 14-year-old Nick Adamson stands up and gives his first-ever testimony to a rapt crowd of newly-on-fire-for-Christ high schoolers. Nick has just accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. The reason for his conversion? Jesus is a blast! That’s what has been promised to Nick by his ultra-cool camp counselor, The Torque, and it’s what Nick craves—a life larger than he can ever imagine. After all, Jesus has given an amazing life to Torque, the muscle-bound university engineering student who creates canons in his spare time. Why wouldn’t Jesus provide that for Nick, too?
Next to Nick’s side is his best friend, Chad Michael Juniper Van Stantvoordt, AKA Juner, who’s too short yet to live up to his tall name. Juner loves science and mag lites and has been a Christian his whole life. He takes this Jesus thing in stride, and perhaps Juner overmuch likes all the hugs that girls give him on the last night of camp.
While giving his testimony, Nick can’t help glancing across the fireside area at Shipper Ryun, an acquaintance from school. She’s got hair, eyes, creamy skin—who wouldn’t want to date her? Shipper has previously ignored Nick, even spurned him, but after fireside, Shipper is suddenly all smiles.
Despite Juner’s dire predictions about high school starting in 14 days and “you know what happens to freshmen like us,” Nick can hardly wait for school to start so the benefits of his new-found Christian life and all its amazing promises can begin. He slugs Juner all-friendly-like in the arm: “Relax willya, Jesus wouldn’t let anything go wrong, would He?”
Randy sez: I would like to see the conflict emerging more quickly here. This is fairly detailed–so far it’s all about one scene, and so far everything is going swimmingly. Only in the last sentence is there a hint that things are about to go very wrong. So Marcus, I’d recommend summarizing this and getting to the conflict. Because the story doesn’t begin until there’s conflict.
What about if you have two plotlines? They occassionaly come together but are mostly seperate. Do you do the synopsis for one line until they merge, then do a “Meanwhile, back at the ranch, …” or do one until THE END then do the second, or do one and not mention the other at all? Something else entirely?
Randy sez: Mix them just like you would in the real novel. Do a paragraph or two on one storyline, then do a paragraph or two on the other. And highlight those points where the two storylines come together, because if they look like they’re totally separate, the editor is going to be asking, “Why isn’t this two books?”
Mary posted her first few paragraphs:
Ari Poorman, eighteen, walks home after babysitting on an autumn Friday night, bemoaning her sorry state of affairs. She encounters Ryan and Mick, two guys who never showed any interest in her during high school. The guys get Ari to go with them to “have some fun.” When they attempt rape, she escapes and runs home, losing her house key in Ryan’s car.
The next week, Ryan and Mick sneak into the Poormans’ house. Ari, home alone and ill with a cold, confronts them. They’re interrupted by the police, who have come to investigate a neighbor’s report.
After much effort, Ari gets a full-time job at Chinn’s Cuisine. She gets to know her fellow employees: waitresses Yu Chinn, the owner’s homeschooled teen daughter, and April, who disappears after threatening to get an abortion in order to keep her boyfriend; and busboy Mark Smucker, a friendly young man Ari would like to have as more than just a friend.
Randy sez: OK, this looks promising. The one point I’d like to see improved is the “reality factor.” In paragraph 1, Ari gets away from two able-bodied boys intent on rape. Good for her, but . . . how did she manage that? Is she skilled at martial arts? Is she a good runner? We need to know enough about her to believe she could do this.
In paragraph 2, the boys come back for another try. This time, the cops save Ari, which seems awfully convenient. Can you make this more believable? What does Ari DO to get herself out of trouble here? Readers want to see a character who can help herself, not one who gets lucky by having the cops drop by.
We’ll continue tomorrow with critiques of more synopses.