Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#1
I've been looking at sending my book off to potential publishers and agents, and I've been struggling to write a short and concise synopsis that still carries all of the relevant details of the book. It's a hard story to describe without cutting too many important elements, and I'm worried that explaining it in brief might make it sound like nonsense.

Really I just need someone who hasn't read the book to read the synopsis and let me know whether it makes sense to them!


Synopsis:


The year is 1975, fifty-one years since an apocalyptic event changed the world forever. Charred creatures known as the marked have driven humankind from the majority of the Earth, and on the periphery of human territory the inhabitants of a watchtower town struggle for survival. A recent sickness that has blighted the outpost is causing long standing tensions to come to a head, leaving the town deeply divided along religious lines.

Saul, the warden of the outpost, and John, the chief of the militia, are organising a convoy to pick up supplies from the EDC – the last large-scale enclave of human resistance, formed from a coalition of European states. Saul’s son, David, will be joining them -his first mission outside of the outpost’s walls. Unlike his best friend Petra, David is unworried by the potential danger, possessing total faith in God’s plan for him.

Sedition in the town worsens, spearheaded by the Walters -the town’s priest and his wife, who have lost their only son to the sickness. They have received recurring visions of an angel, who imparts upon them a way to earn their place in paradise, and to be with their son once more. When the supply convoy departs, the Walters gather the believers in town and under the cover of a duststorm, convince them to open the gates to the angel. To the disbelief of many, the angel is in fact real, and enters the outpost, closely followed by a horde of marked.

The convoy returns to find the outpost overrun, and during the ensuing battle David and Saul are forced to retreat to the church, where they find the angel waiting. After killing Saul and commanding a marked one to incapacitate David, the angel tells David that everything he believes about God is false: Heaven is reserved for true believers like the Walters, while his father will likely be damned for putting the love of his family first. It further reveals that the marked were once human, and their present state the direct result of their time in Hell.
Miraculously, the marked one begins to respond to David’s pain and attacks and kills the angel, destroying itself in the process. Before it dies it speaks three last words to David: Damascus. 1927. Answers.

Interspersed with the other chapters and told partly through journal entries is the tale of Howard Du Bois, an archaeologist who in 1924 uncovers a mysterious artefact immediately following the disaster. His prize attracts the attention of two angels, who attack the ship he is travelling on. In an attempt to destroy the angels, Howard sets off an explosion, capsizing the ship and mortally wounding himself in the process. He is rescued from the water by a naval vessel and brought back to England, where he recovers unnaturally from his injuries. After an attempted exorcism by the captain of the naval ship, an angel bloodily reveals itself, having abandoned its wounded body and latched itself to Howard, healing him from the inside. The angel, Berith, explains to Howard that a war is beginning between the loyal and fallen angels, with humankind caught in the middle. The artefact is the key to a doorway known as the Abzu, a subterranean pool that separates the Earth from an outer nothingness. By glimpsing the space between the two, ancient people were able to access a forbidden knowledge and power that Berith claims will allow them to reverse the approaching cataclysm. But Berith has his own agenda, and when the two arrive at the Abzu, he attempts to take control of Howard’s body in order to claim the power solely for himself. With waning strength, Howard detonates a grenade, killing himself rather than let the angel possess him.

In the present, the remaining settlers retreat to Damascus. David, his belief system shattered, focuses on the last words of the marked that saved him. Led by visions of the same marked, he discovers Howard’s journal in a safety deposit box marked 1927. After reading it, he convinces the other settlers to desert the EDC and help him uncover the Abzu’s secrets. Once there, David finds Berith, still trapped in Howard’s corpse, and the fiery spirit of Howard Du Bois -revealed now to be the marked that had helped him. All three enter the Abzu together, where David finds himself subjected to a vision of the naked void, as well as a mysterious outer light, overwhelming him with the enormity of the universe and its endless cycle of creation and destruction.
John finds David unconscious upon the shore of the Abzu, and the settlers flee from the cavern’s seemingly imminent collapse, reaching their vehicles where a three way chase ensues. The Executioner -a fallen angel- reluctantly seeks to fulfil his mission of capturing David in order to claim the Abzu’s knowledge, while a cadre of loyal angels attempt to annihilate David in order to protect its secrets.

After a desperate and emotional struggle, the Executioner emerges victorious and moves to claim David. Berith intervenes and reveals himself, and sharing what he saw in the Abzu, he convinces the fallen angel to abandon his cause and allow David to use his new power to ascend himself. Eventually the Executioner agrees, and leaves the scene as a convoy of EDC vehicles close in on the survivors.

Weeks later, John speaks with the EDC official Cornicello. John learns that David remains comatose, but Cornicello -having recovered Howard’s journal and read it himself- hopes that when David wakes he might become a new catalyst for change. Cornicello details to John his desire to publicly reveal the existence of angels, and John reluctantly toasts to his ambition to drag the EDC out of its stagnation and enter into an all out war for ownership of the planet.



Comments will be much appreciated!








Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#2
Some suggestions from me. I think your synopsis has a lot more information than needed. A lot of it doesn't clarify things but rather makes it harder to keep track of things. There's a lot I'd suggest trimming down. Whether some things can be better explained, I can't really say, as I haven't read your story, so this is the best I can do.

Paragraph 2: You never mention Petra again, so why mention them in the first place?

Paragraph 3: We don't need to know any of this. All we have to know is what comes in paragraph 4; the convoy returns to find the outpost overrun by marked, led by an angel.

Paragraph 5+6: Again, far too many details that cloud the important information. I know it can seem impossible to pick out what can be removed (I've been through this process of writing synopses for agents myself), but I think it's necessary.

For paragraph 5, all that matters is the archeologist finding the artefact, being possessed by an angel, and what the artefact does. Most of the other details are not relevant. We don't need to know that he is attacked and wounded, the ship capsizes, another ship picks him up, they attempt an exorcism etc.

For paragraph 6, we don't need to know all the details of finding the artefact. You could simply state, David and the other survivors travel to Damascus and find the artefact.

I don't know if everything about the Executioner is relevant either; if he chases David but ends up sparing him, he doesn't seem to affect the outcome of the plot. I would cut that out as well.

Right now, your synopsis is more like a summary of all the different elements and various plot points. That's not a synopsis anymore. You have to be tough and cut away everything that isn't directly relevant to the major plot.

Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#3



So in trying to help, I had a look at what a synopsis needs and in turn actually had a bit of a learning moment for myself. This one particular site claims
https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis/ 




Quote:

Synopsis:
A synopsis is a summary of a book that familiarizes the reader with the plot and how it unfolds. Although these kinds of summaries also appear on the pages of school book reports and Wikipedia, this guide will focus on constructing one that you can send out to agents and potentially publishers.
Your novel synopsis should achieve two things: firstly, it should convey the contents of your book, and secondly, it should be intriguing!
While you don’t need to pull out all the marketing stops at this stage, you should have a brief hook at the beginning and a sense of urgency underlying the text that will keep your reader going. It should make potential agents want to devour your whole manuscript — even though they’ll already know what happens.




As for the ideal length for this piece, it varies from project to project. Some authors recommend keeping it to 500 words, while others might write thousands. However, the standard range is about one to two single-spaced pages (or two to five double-spaced pages). 

You may also want to have an additional “brief” summary prepared for agents who specifically request a single page or less. Remember: as hard as it will be to distill all your hard work into that minimal space, it’s crucial to keep your synopsis digestible and agent-friendly.



Quote:And a blurb:
A blurb is a short description of a book that is written for promotional purposes. Traditionally, it would be found on the inside back cover of a hardback. As paperback publishing developed, readers began seeing the blurb appearing on the back cover. Generally, 150-200 words are more than enough for a full blurb.
1. Introduce your main characters
2. Set the stage for the primary conflict
3. Establish the stakes
4. Show the reader why this is the book for them

And it goes on....


So actually, I guess what you have written, despite my initial "Ooooh, it's too long" impressions and confusion over the differences/interchangeability of the terms synopsis/blurbs, is probably closer to what a synopsis is...? 
Therefore I'm not sure I can help- because I don't know your story, and you're using this to sell to people who do this thing for a job. There might be others who are better able to help. 

https%3A%2F%2Fimages.thoughtbot.com%2Fblog-vellu...ing-up.gif 

Good luck though!!

Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#4

Quill Wrote: Some suggestions from me. I think your synopsis has a lot more information than needed. A lot of it doesn't clarify things but rather makes it harder to keep track of things. There's a lot I'd suggest trimming down. Whether some things can be better explained, I can't really say, as I haven't read your story, so this is the best I can do.

Paragraph 2: You never mention Petra again, so why mention them in the first place?

Paragraph 3: We don't need to know any of this. All we have to know is what comes in paragraph 4; the convoy returns to find the outpost overrun by marked, led by an angel.

Paragraph 5+6: Again, far too many details that cloud the important information. I know it can seem impossible to pick out what can be removed (I've been through this process of writing synopses for agents myself), but I think it's necessary.

For paragraph 5, all that matters is the archeologist finding the artefact, being possessed by an angel, and what the artefact does. Most of the other details are not relevant. We don't need to know that he is attacked and wounded, the ship capsizes, another ship picks him up, they attempt an exorcism etc.

For paragraph 6, we don't need to know all the details of finding the artefact. You could simply state, David and the other survivors travel to Damascus and find the artefact.

I don't know if everything about the Executioner is relevant either; if he chases David but ends up sparing him, he doesn't seem to affect the outcome of the plot. I would cut that out as well.

Right now, your synopsis is more like a summary of all the different elements and various plot points. That's not a synopsis anymore. You have to be tough and cut away everything that isn't directly relevant to the major plot.




Very helpful! It's difficult finding what to cut without taking all the life out -I know the synopsis isn't supposed to be as much of a marketing tool as other parts of the package, but I do want it to stay a little colourful and intriguing. That said, it's worse to leave unexplained plot threads or unnecessary information.

It's a hard thing to do for your own work, for sure.

Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#5

EnhancedBeing Wrote: So in trying to help, I had a look at what a synopsis needs and in turn actually had a bit of a learning moment for myself. This one particular site claims
https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis/ 




Quote:

Synopsis:
A synopsis is a summary of a book that familiarizes the reader with the plot and how it unfolds. Although these kinds of summaries also appear on the pages of school book reports and Wikipedia, this guide will focus on constructing one that you can send out to agents and potentially publishers.
Your novel synopsis should achieve two things: firstly, it should convey the contents of your book, and secondly, it should be intriguing!
While you don’t need to pull out all the marketing stops at this stage, you should have a brief hook at the beginning and a sense of urgency underlying the text that will keep your reader going. It should make potential agents want to devour your whole manuscript — even though they’ll already know what happens.




As for the ideal length for this piece, it varies from project to project. Some authors recommend keeping it to 500 words, while others might write thousands. However, the standard range is about one to two single-spaced pages (or two to five double-spaced pages). 

You may also want to have an additional “brief” summary prepared for agents who specifically request a single page or less. Remember: as hard as it will be to distill all your hard work into that minimal space, it’s crucial to keep your synopsis digestible and agent-friendly.



Quote:And a blurb:
A blurb is a short description of a book that is written for promotional purposes. Traditionally, it would be found on the inside back cover of a hardback. As paperback publishing developed, readers began seeing the blurb appearing on the back cover. Generally, 150-200 words are more than enough for a full blurb.
1. Introduce your main characters
2. Set the stage for the primary conflict
3. Establish the stakes
4. Show the reader why this is the book for them

And it goes on....


So actually, I guess what you have written, despite my initial "Ooooh, it's too long" impressions and confusion over the differences/interchangeability of the terms synopsis/blurbs, is probably closer to what a synopsis is...? 
Therefore I'm not sure I can help- because I don't know your story, and you're using this to sell to people who do this thing for a job. There might be others who are better able to help. 

https%3A%2F%2Fimages.thoughtbot.com%2Fblog-vellu...ing-up.gif 

Good luck though!!




Thanks!
That's useful information. I'm considering writing more than one in different lengths now, so I can switch them out depending on the admission requirements

Re: Need help with a synopsis!

#6
If you want, I will take a stab at rewriting what you have. But it would be better if you took all this good advice and rewrote yourself and posted it here. I will however, offer caveats.

You are not trying to sell your book - you are explaining it. Fancy titles and excessive modifiers and qualifying conditionals only serve to have the slush pile reader toss yours and move on to the next manuscript in their pile. Here are some examples in just the first two paragraphs of words you need to remove. 

TwelveGreatApes Wrote: The year is 1975, fifty-one years since an apocalyptic event changed the world forever. Charred creatures known as the marked have driven humankind from the majority of the Earth, and on the periphery of human territory the inhabitants of a watchtower town struggle for survival. A recent sickness that has blighted the outpost is causing long standing tensions to come to a head, leaving the town deeply divided along religious lines.

Saul, the warden of the outpost, and John, the chief of the militia, are organising a convoy to pick up supplies from the EDC – the last large-scale enclave of human resistance, formed from a coalition of European states. Saul’s son, David, will be joining them -his first mission outside of the outpost’s walls. Unlike his best friend Petra, David is unworried by the potential danger, possessing total faith in God’s plan for him.


CHARRED  'FROM THE MAJORITY OF THE EARTH'  'OF HUMAN TERRITORY'  'WATCHTOWER TOWN'  DEEPLY  SAUL  JOHN  'FROM THE EDC'  'LARGE-SCALE ENCLAVE'  'SAUL'S SON'  'UNLIKE HIS BEST FRIEND PETRA'  POTENTIAL  TOTAL  'FOR HIM'


You can see that is a lot of words. Your summary practically glows, it is so purple in its prose. Plus it is written in a passive voice and there are too many past tense verbs. You need to use present tense action verbs! - Not HAVE and HAS and WAS and WERE

And that is not your fault!  It's hard as an author who has toiled so very much over every plotline and chapter and verb, to pull back and see the big picture. Here is a better version of those first two paragraphs, trimmed down to summary size:


[STORY TITLE] takes place in the year 1975 -- fifty-one years since an apocalypse changes the world forever. Creatures known as the marked have driven humankind to the peripheries of civilization, where they struggle for survival. A recent sickness blights an outpost where long-standing tensions come to a head, leaving the inhabitants divided along religious lines.

The warden of the outpost and the chief of the militia organize a convoy to pick up supplies from a coalition formed by European states. It's David's first mission outside the outpost's walls. Unworried by the danger, he has faith in God's plan.



That is your first two paragraphs honed down to what is important. You can see that by eliminating the uneeded detail and writing in an active voice, you now have more precious word count to use to tell us what your story is really all about.

Good ducky luck, and I hope you post again!  ❤🦆😸🐰❤