synopsis help.

#1
So I've been thinking of changing my story's synopsis to shake things up a little. This is the new one I wrote:

Quote:This is the end of an era, and the start of a new one.

For four years, the Kingdom of Ashmore suffered the weight of a traitorous subject’s ambitions. Those of obtaining a lost power hidden within the Kingdom’s horizons, rising to the realm of legends with its might.

For four years, the King’s request for his people’s aid resulted in many embarking on the quest to obtain peace.

At the edge of the fourth year, four individuals from a quiet village obtained it all.

For reference, this is the current synopsis:

Quote:A butcher, a village beauty, a coroner, and a wanderer walk into a tavern…

In the world there are six elements. Five are seen and shattered. One is hidden and whole.
It is said that the Kingdom of Ashmore holds that hidden element in its vast lands. In order to obtain it, a man plunged the Kingdom into chaos, starting many quests to end his reign.
From a quiet village, four individuals took on the call to fill a quota.

Which one you think clicks better?

Re: synopsis help.

#2
Neither one is really grabbing me, tbh. It's telling me a little bit about the world but nothing about the story or the characters. I do love the logline in the original one, although I would make the following adjustments so it's a little snappier: 

A butcher, a beauty, a coroner and a vagabond walk into a tavern...

Re: synopsis help.

#3
Cymas Wrote: Neither one is really grabbing me, tbh. It's telling me a little bit about the world but nothing about the story or the characters. I do love the logline in the original one, although I would make the following adjustments so it's a little snappier: 

A butcher, a beauty, a coroner and a vagabond walk into a tavern...

Yeah, it's very much on the plain side. I guess my desire to have the characters be a little bit of a mystery did affect how I decided to structure it?

And thanks! I have an affection for old jokes so I just had to incorporated one there. 

Re: synopsis help.

#4
The synopsis is the worst place to try to be mysterious. You're trying to sell the story to your readers so if they can't figure out what your story is about and why they would want to read it, there's nothing to keep them from clicking on to the next story. You want to entice your readers, get them so excited they have to click that start reading button right away and dive right in to your world. Whatever mysteries your story has should be in the telling of it, not in the "commercial" which the synopsis is, you know? 

Re: synopsis help.

#5
Cymas Wrote: The synopsis is the worst place to try to be mysterious.

This cannot be stated too often.

That is not to say that a synopsis that invokes a feeling of mystery would be bad. Quite the opposite. It is just that an synopsis just does not have enough space to get there usually. And if someone managed, that would be a once in century act of genius.

And if you try to be mysterious but do not manage it, you might just as well add something like "Only read this work if you want to feel some mystery. As you can see I am not very good at invoking that feeling and failed in this synopsis, but if you work very hard on reading my work, you might feel some mystery later and thus be able to enjoy my work", because you already implied it.

Re: synopsis help.

#6
Cymas Wrote: The synopsis is the worst place to try to be mysterious. You're trying to sell the story to your readers so if they can't figure out what your story is about and why they would want to read it, there's nothing to keep them from clicking on to the next story. You want to entice your readers, get them so excited they have to click that start reading button right away and dive right in to your world. Whatever mysteries your story has should be in the telling of it, not in the "commercial" which the synopsis is, you know?

True and valid. 
So thinking about what you (and @whoever) pointed out, I ended up writing a new one from a character's perspective:

Quote:Stella Kale lived in a cocoon of her own making, in a village she had no familiarity with before choosing to settle in. She spent her days teaching healing arts to her apprentice, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances in her laboratory. In the tranquil of Cinder Village, the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into was a faraway concern.

But then her apprentice was enlisted to take part in the Kingdom’s pursuits to put an end to a tyrant’s reign, pursuits he was far from qualifying for, and well, what sort of teacher was she if she allowed that to happen?

When Stella stepped in her apprentice’s place, she found that three others shared the same thought.

With her companions, Stella takes on different trials, from killer plants and bandit strongholds to individuals and entities wielding remnants of the powers that reshaped the world.

I'm kinda thinking of putting it with the synopsis I wrote in the op.

Re: synopsis help.

#7
Cymas Wrote: I do love the logline in the original one

Ditto! That line is familiar and catchy.

SRo-se Wrote: I have an affection for old jokes so I just had to incorporated one there.

Finishing the joke might work out nicely! Here is my poor attempt to finish a similar joke :)


"A coroner walks into a tavern and is greeted by deathly silence."

Re: synopsis help.

#8
Ash Wrote:
Cymas Wrote: I do love the logline in the original one

Ditto! That line is familiar and catchy.

SRo-se Wrote: I have an affection for old jokes so I just had to incorporated one there.

Finishing the joke might work out nicely! Here is my poor attempt to finish a similar joke :)


"A coroner walks into a tavern and is greeted by deathly silence."

I'd like to go off topic to admire this absolute masterpiece. 

Re: synopsis help.

#9
SRo-se Wrote:
Cymas Wrote: The synopsis is the worst place to try to be mysterious. You're trying to sell the story to your readers so if they can't figure out what your story is about and why they would want to read it, there's nothing to keep them from clicking on to the next story. You want to entice your readers, get them so excited they have to click that start reading button right away and dive right in to your world. Whatever mysteries your story has should be in the telling of it, not in the "commercial" which the synopsis is, you know?

True and valid. 
So thinking about what you (and @whoever) pointed out, I ended up writing a new one from a character's perspective:

Quote:Stella Kale lived in a cocoon of her own making, in a village she had no familiarity with before choosing to settle in. She spent her days teaching healing arts to her apprentice, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances in her laboratory. In the tranquil of Cinder Village, the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into was a faraway concern.

But then her apprentice was enlisted to take part in the Kingdom’s pursuits to put an end to a tyrant’s reign, pursuits he was far from qualifying for, and well, what sort of teacher was she if she allowed that to happen?

When Stella stepped in her apprentice’s place, she found that three others shared the same thought.

With her companions, Stella takes on different trials, from killer plants and bandit strongholds to individuals and entities wielding remnants of the powers that reshaped the world.

I'm kinda thinking of putting it with the synopsis I wrote in the op.

I like this more as the synopsis. Readers usually want to know about the characters and their struggles before world building and mystery. The original synopsis and the new synopsis in the original post don't really tell me anything as a reader. There's a bunch of pretty wording and world building, but no mention of characters, conflict, or plot.

I like this one that mentions "Stella Kale" and some mentions of plot and conflict better.

But I would be careful about putting it with the original synopsis. You really don't want to turn your synopsis into a lengthy read. It should be snappy, fast, to the point to catch attention quickly. Short and as sweet as possible.

Re: synopsis help.

#10
O_Weaver Wrote:
SRo-se Wrote:
Cymas Wrote: The synopsis is the worst place to try to be mysterious. You're trying to sell the story to your readers so if they can't figure out what your story is about and why they would want to read it, there's nothing to keep them from clicking on to the next story. You want to entice your readers, get them so excited they have to click that start reading button right away and dive right in to your world. Whatever mysteries your story has should be in the telling of it, not in the "commercial" which the synopsis is, you know?

True and valid. 
So thinking about what you (and @whoever) pointed out, I ended up writing a new one from a character's perspective:

Quote:Stella Kale lived in a cocoon of her own making, in a village she had no familiarity with before choosing to settle in. She spent her days teaching healing arts to her apprentice, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances in her laboratory. In the tranquil of Cinder Village, the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into was a faraway concern.

But then her apprentice was enlisted to take part in the Kingdom’s pursuits to put an end to a tyrant’s reign, pursuits he was far from qualifying for, and well, what sort of teacher was she if she allowed that to happen?

When Stella stepped in her apprentice’s place, she found that three others shared the same thought.

With her companions, Stella takes on different trials, from killer plants and bandit strongholds to individuals and entities wielding remnants of the powers that reshaped the world.

I'm kinda thinking of putting it with the synopsis I wrote in the op.

I like this more as the synopsis. Readers usually want to know about the characters and their struggles before world building and mystery. The original synopsis and the new synopsis in the original post don't really tell me anything as a reader. There's a bunch of pretty wording and world building, but no mention of characters, conflict, or plot.

I like this one that mentions "Stella Kale" and some mentions of plot and conflict better.

But I would be careful about putting it with the original synopsis. You really don't want to turn your synopsis into a lengthy read. It should be snappy, fast, to the point to catch attention quickly. Short and as sweet as possible.

The more I spend thinking about it, yeah, I like the newest one the best, so I'm gonna use it.
And good point. Definitely don't wanna make the synopsis too long. 

Re: synopsis help.

#12
IvyVeritas Wrote:
SRo-se Wrote: The more I spend thinking about it, yeah, I like the newest one the best, so I'm gonna use it.

Are you interested in an in-depth breakdown and proofreading of your new synopsis? I'm asking first because some people just don't want that level of feedback.

That would be rather kind of you, really. Of course I’m interested. 

Re: synopsis help.

#13
Overall comments:
Many synopses are written in present tense rather than past tense. It's not a requirement, but I think yours would sound better rewritten in present tense.



Breakdown:
"Stella Kale lived in a cocoon of her own making" - Good, maybe great (would be improved by present tense); last name isn't necessary, but it doesn't hurt.

", in a village she had no familiarity with before choosing to settle in." - Awkward, and doesn't really add anything that the first half of the sentence doesn't cover. Could be deleted entirely, or could be replaced with something else.

"She spent her days teaching healing arts to her apprentice, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances in her laboratory." - No problems here, though the "concocting lethal substances" raises some questions.

"In the tranquil of Cinder Village," - tranquil what?

"the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into was a faraway concern." - Awkward; difficult to parse. Consider the sentence as the reader sees it: "the ruin the Kingdom" ? "the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore" ? "the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged" ? "the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into" (here's where it starts to make sense, but the cognitive load is pretty high at this point; the reader will probably have to re-read it to get the gist). Also, it's missing the word "had", but I'd recommend changing the sentence entirely, making it more general, and removing the specific details (like the kingdom), because you're going to be getting into the specifics in the very next paragraph. Something like "... the rumors of faraway wars were of little concern."

"But then her apprentice was enlisted to take part in the Kingdom’s pursuits to put an end to a tyrant’s reign," - This could be improved. "Enlisted" sounds voluntary; do you mean conscripted? "To take part in the Kingdom's pursuits" is odd phrasing; what's he actually doing? "to put an end to a tyrant's reign" is also odd phrasing; again, the details of what they're actually doing might fix this spot. (If you provide the details, I could try to rewrite the sentence.)

"pursuits he was far from qualifying for," - Odd phrasing again, but again if the specific details are provided, this could probably be fixed pretty easily.

"and well," - Needs a comma before 'well' as well.

"what sort of teacher was she if she allowed that to happen?" - No problems here, but the phrase is more commonly written as "what sort of teacher would she be" rather than "was she".

"When Stella stepped in her apprentice’s place," - Not grammatically correct, but I'd need to know exactly what you were going for to suggest a fix.

"she found that three others shared the same thought." - Three others are trying to take her apprentice's place?

"With her companions, Stella takes on different trials, from killer plants and bandit strongholds to individuals and entities wielding remnants of the powers that reshaped the world." - This would work better if it was more generic, less specific. More open-ended, and linked to the primary themes or storyline.

I hope that helps!

Re: synopsis help.

#14
I like the new synopsis but I don't love it. Ivy pointed out a lot of the issues I have with it; overall I feel you're trying too hard to split your synopsis between Stella and keep the worldbuilding, which isn't really working.

Quote:Stella Kale lived in a cocoon of her own making, in a village she had no familiarity with before choosing to settle in. Not really relevant and the phrasing is awkward. She spent her days teaching healing arts to her apprentice, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances in her laboratory. In the tranquil of Cinder Village, the ruin the Kingdom of Ashmore plunged into was a faraway concern. I agree that this does not read well at all and feels a little tacked on. Suggestion: The ruin of the Kingdom of Ashmore was a faraway concern. It still doesn't read well and I would argue that it should be cut altogether.

But then her apprentice was enlisted to take part in the Kingdom’s pursuits to put an end to a tyrant’s reign, pursuits he was far from qualifying for, and well, what sort of teacher was she if she allowed that to happen? Again, not reading very well here. You're trying to worldbuild and explain a plot point at the same time. I don't have any suggestions because I don't know enough about the story.

When Stella stepped in her apprentice’s place, she found that three others shared the same thought. This is actually confusing me a little bit. Enlistment suggests joining a military venture like the army but this sounds more like a rebel group. And I'm not making the connection between "apprentice turns rebel, teacher randomly decides to drop everything and take his place" because it's not a very logical decision from her perspective. This would be a great spot to add more plot details--does the apprentice die, does the group reject him, how does Stella take his place exactly? From a writer's perspective, I would wonder why Stella needed an apprentice to force her to join this group because without an explanation it just feels weak.

With her companions, Stella takes on different trials, from killer plants and bandit strongholds to individuals and entities wielding remnants of the powers that reshaped the world. Again, feeling a little weak here. You built the first half of the synopsis up to be more epic and that energy kind of fizzled out into "rebel group goes questing" which has me even more confused.

Overall I feel like you do have a good base but you could do some tweaking still and consider what message you're trying to convey to your readers. Right now it's a bit jumbled as you're trying to tell us multiple things at once and the result isn't inspiring me to click the button very much. Don't worry, it's not a knock on you or your story; synopsis writing is hard, man.

Re: synopsis help.

#15
@IvyVeritas & @Cymas.

First of all, thank you so much for your kind feedback. I took your thoughts into mind and fused them into this: 

Quote:Stella lives in a cocoon of her own making. She spends her days teaching healing arts, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances.

But then her apprentice is forced to take part in Ashmore Kingdom’s struggle against a traitorous subject, and, well, what sort of teacher would she be if she allows that to happen?

Finally out of her shell, Stella discovers that it wasn’t only her that took another’s place.

With three companions of different backgrounds and goals, Stella embarks on an adventure that leads them to the realm of legends.

what do you think? it definitely reads sharper in the first half, which i like. I'm unsure about the last two lines though. 

Re: synopsis help.

#16
Just a quick note, even though this question was not asked of me (IvyVeritas and Cymas are providing great feedback and I'm enjoying being a fly on the wall on this thread).

I like the new description, though the ending - "realm of legends" feels a bit of a cliché. I just read your first chapter and I put together the following description. That's not meant to replace anything that you already have but it might give you additional ideas.

Alight, I'm going back to the wall! Stop throwing things at me :-)


Quote:All Stella wanted was to teach the healing arts, brew her deadly concoctions, and to be left alone!

Alas, the greedy head of Cinder Village had other plans and he enlisted her nephew in the kingdom’s war.

To save the boy, Cinder would take his place and embark on a low survival quest with three other village misfits.

Re: synopsis help.

#17
Quite a big improvement over the first versions, color me impressed

Your blurb (I've been reminded a lot that it's not a synopsis, it's a blurb) is fairly neutral. Nothing wrong with that, but I do want to make sure it reflects the tone of your story. If you're going for a more lighthearted story, throw in some jokes. Cinnamon Bun and This Quest Is Bullshit do this well. A darker story, Sylver Seeker, actually doesn't. Which is why there's an author's note in the blurb to warn people about it even though one or two sentences could make it abundantly clear. So, what kind of story are you going for? Light, dark, or neutral, and is it reflected in your blurb?

What I'm missing is if she's allowed to switch places or if people are upset about it. It's a bit unclear if the apprentice is just drafted, or specifically selected. Switching places with one of The Chosen Ones makes for a different story than taking someone's place in the draft. Mainly, if people are upset with it, mention that. It changes the tone of the story drastically, so you want to prepare people for it, and use it as a lure. Shenanigans Inside, Full Metal Jacket, or Always On The Run?

I'm not sold on the 'teacher takes place of student' thing. Seriously. That's not what a teacher would do unless it's a very 'special' teacher. The kind that comes by your house on Sunday to ask if you need help with your homework. Maybe her apprentice is the only person in the world she cares about? But if that's the case, why isn't it in the blurb? 
Right now the relationship leans more to 'creepy obsessed' what with the cocoon, deadly concoctions and investigating corpses. If it's more like 'almost part of the family', you might want to hint more in that direction.

That's just my piece, though

Re: synopsis help.

#18
I feel like you're still trying to be mysterious and that's holding the synopsis back a bit. Now that you've pared out the more extraneous details, which was a good thing, there aren't enough threads left to grab the reader. Let's try combining concepts a little bit and see where that leads:

A butcher, a beauty, a coroner and a vagabond walk into a tavern...

The butcher:

Insert brief description here.

The beauty:

Insert brief description here.

The coroner:

Stella Kale lives in a cocoon of her own making. She spends her days teaching healing arts, inspecting corpses, and concocting lethal substances. That is, until her nephew was conscripted into war.

The vagabond:

Insert brief description here.

The ruin of the Kingdom of Ashmore brought them together. Now it's up to Stella and this ragtag group of adventurers to stand against the chaos and treachery of the realm.

It's an idea to play with, certainly, especially if your story does have a bit of levity to it that would mesh with this style of description. I used a detail Ash & Ivy added from reading the story that makes the "apprentice" angle work better for Stella's motivation, too. Definitely keep that if nothing else from this post.