RSS Feed Print
How bad is my synopsis?
Timothy Maguire
Posted: Friday, July 27, 2012 9:14 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

So I've written my first synopsis for Slide The Scales From My Eyes and I'm not totally convinced. Does this sell you on the book? Would you be interested to read more? Where does it grind to a halt?

Slide The Scales From My Eyes is an urban fantasy about a young woman shown an impossible secret and forced to use it to protect her fellow university students from those who would enslave them.

Lea was an ordinary second year student, trying to earn enough money from her work at Singularity, the nightclub about to host the start of year party for her fellow students at the University of Leicester. Then she's snatched from work by a mysterious man who can wield light as a weapon. Carried through the city in his arms with her arms bound in light, the sheer impossibility of what is happening to her forces her to realise the truth of the world. A truth that will forever change who she is.

There is a fifth dimension to reality alongside space and time. It is the emotions of an area, as strong and as real as light and gravity, but only those who have been Awakened, forced to see reality through untinted glasses are aware of it and can manoeuvre in it. Lea has just joined that elite brotherhood, granted both impossible power and a permanent division with those who remain unaware.

Dragged across the city by the machinations of the different Awakened groups and her own decisions, Lea struggles to understand what has happened to her and the interests she has stirred. A prophecy drags her before a church steeped in despair while a team of parkour-loving hedonists expose her to the secrets of her erstwhile employers. Fighting to keep her identity, she tumbles on a conspiracy that threatens her incoming classmates and, potentially, the world.

The only lodestones she has is the power that has awakened within her and the friends of her original captor. The Agency, a group of Awakened private investigators, alone seem not to want to control her and one of their number, Molly, seems to hold more than a professional interest in her. She'll need all the help she can get. If she fails, then a rogue mind-controller could trigger the end of the world through his desire to make some quick cash.

Thanks in advance.

Nicki Hill
Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2012 11:21 AM
Joined: 4/22/2012
Posts: 175

Can't promise this is going to be great feedback, but I'll try. 

You've got an interesting premise, writing about a fifth dimension that seems like a pretty original idea (I don't read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy, so anything outside the normal formulae/setting seems like a good way to go to me).  I might be interested in taking a read through just to see how you handle descriptions of this dimension, but unfortunately, your synopsis isn't really contributing to that interest.

Part of what makes it a little difficult to read is purely cosmetic - "Carried
through the city in his arms with her arms bound in light" - too many arms involved.  Is it truly important to know that the nightclub is hosting the start-of-year party - is that a key event in the book?  A handful of additional commas sprinkled in would improve the flow.  Editing for subject/verb agreement - "The only lodestones she has is".  This sentence - "The Agency, a group of Awakened private investigators, alone seem not to want to control her and one of their number, Molly, seems to hold more than a professional interest in her" - is kind of awkward and I had to read it a couple of times to get it.

Those things aside, I think the problem is that the writing isn't active enough to be engaging.  All these things are happening to her, and at first she seems to be passively going along with them, very sort of Red Riding Hood ("My, what big teeth you have!") - it's hard to imagine Lea becoming a change agent.  Give me a better idea exactly what sort of challenges she faces, and how she works through them.  I'm fairly new at the whole synopsis game, so I don't know for sure what works and what doesn't, but as far as I can tell from my own research, the synopsis is there to walk the agent/editor through the plot.  So...give us some more plot, rather than a series of compressed events that don't give much insight into your main character's goals and motivations.

You've also got some interesting characters cropping up, though - that group of parkour-loving hedonists have me intrigued. 

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2012 2:10 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

Hi thanks for the quick response. Some of these are problems I'm aware of and some of them I definitely should have noticed before posting. The 'arms' issue is one of the latter. That sentence is catching a rewrite if nothing else.

On the other issues, one of the problems with the story is that the plot revolves a lot around Lea being dragged into situations. I need to make it clearer that she's getting into and out of these messes under her own steam. I'm also going to look at getting into the plot a little deeper.

Thanks for the criticism. I'll try and have a new draft up in a day or two.

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2012 11:03 PM

Basically, This is the blurb, not a synopsis, , with lots of generalities, like, “Fighting to keep her identity, she tumbles on a conspiracy that threatens her incoming classmates and, potentially, the world.” It’s too long for a blurb, though.

A synopsis is a stand-in for the actual novel, to show the events and flow, from start to finish. It’s told in the present tense, and defines the events that matter to the plot. So being a second year student matters. Taking the job matters. But does it matter that the club is “
the nightclub about to host the start of year party for her fellow students at the University of Leicester?” If that group, by that name, and the fact that the party was about to start matter, she was simply snatched from the club.

For what it may be worth, here’s the first section of the synopsis for Foreign Embassy. It sold, so I must have been doing something right:
- - - - - - - -
The Talperno spacecraft that lands by the reflecting pool of the Washington monument is, in reality, a fifty-story Embassy building complete with revolving front doors.
Fifteen-year-old boy scout, Ron Gibson, is there, and becomes one of the first visitors to the embassy. Now, a decade after that landing, Ron is a writer searching for a way to make his book on the visitors more interesting.
In an interview with a scholar who has been studying the aliens Ron is told that the visitors have been misleading humanity from the beginning and are preparing to take control of the Earth.
Not ready to believe, but willing to listen, Ron accompanies the man’s daughter as she hikes on state game lands, where they are inadvertently included in the hunting of a human by a group of armed Talperno.
Ron and Patricia survive the hunt, and travel to Ron’s home, where, with others, he will try to develop the proof needed to convince the government of the real situation…

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 2:03 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

Right, so here's the newly updated version, (theoretically) taking in all the criticism of my original. It also got a bit bigger:

Slide The Scales From My Eyes is an urban fantasy novel about a young woman shown an impossible
secret and forced to use it to protect her fellow university students from those who would enslave them.

Lea is an ordinary girl in her second year of university, earning her way by working in Singularity, a new bar that's opening in a few days, just in time to catch the start of the new semester. She's a nobody in the grand scheme of things, but that all changes when a mysterious man snatches her from work, tying her up in ropes of light, and carries her through the streets like it's the most normal thing in the world. The sheer impossibility forces her to confront the world hidden beneath her own, leading her to a most unwelcome epiphany: that this is real and only the tip of an impossible iceberg.

Taken to the Agency, a private investigation company with its fingers buried in the hidden side of Leicester, her new reality is explained to her. She has just been 'Awakened', exposed to a fifth dimension of reality known as the Shadow, where emotions are as physical as concrete and terrible, impossible things lurk. Her only bonus from this permanent change to her world is her Lexicon, a single concept that she can control. Storming out, Lea touches one of their number, a beautiful, athletic woman called Molly, and experiences a strange hallucination from the other girl's history. Shocked and disturbed by this, she flees home to escape.

Her journey home shows her the reality of her new world, as she walks past the squamous shadows that infest her city and the creatures that keep them fed on the populace's emotions, but worse is to come when she arrives home. Two Awakened are waiting for her and one drags her deep into the Shadow before she can escape. Any hope of fighting back is battered from her brain by the flood of hallucinations as everything she touches shows her its story.

At the last moment, she's rescued by a beautiful young man travelling in the Shadow. Her rescuer takes her to the shelter of his Awakened church, where those who cannot deal with being Awakened hide from their reality. Unfortunately, this is another trap. The church's leader has built a machine from the Shadow to predict the future and she is at the centre of the prophecy to give birth to a new Messiah.It also reveals that her Lexicon is Memory, her hallucinations memories she has unknowingly drawn from physical contact. Unwilling to go through with his plans, Lea escapes with the aid of the machine and finds Molly outside the church.

Molly takes her in and convinces her to return to the Agency for help, but she is grabbed by a group of parkour-loving hedonist Awakened and returned to Singularity. She wakes up devoted to one of her bosses, utterly convinced he is God. Over the course of the day, this mental disconnect eventually forces her to use her Lexicon Memory to remember what has happened to her. The truth is that she was under the control of her boss and convince of his supremacy. Sneaking out of Singularity, she escapes back to the Agency, seeking Molly's help.

Putting together everything that's happened, they come to an epiphany: her bosses at Singularity plan to use their mind control to enslave all the students at the end of term party they're holding that evening, a plan that has dire ramifications if it gets out of control. Appealing to the Awakened authorities doesn't work, so they decide to interfere themselves. Faking a fire alarm, they confront the leadership of the club before they can gain control and stop them in their tracks.

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 8:45 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229

Hi Tim
First impressions: I like the concept itself.
There's two Typos in the penultimate paragraph, so if you're submitting this, careful there.I've done about 4 versions of my own synopsis, and the more you look at them the more you get confused with what to leave in or out.
It really depends what the agent asks for.... plot spoilers etc, but my thoughts (uneducated and inexperienced as they are) would be that the second version is an outline, the first a synopsis.
I know it's been called a blurb in the comments, but isn't the synopsis just that, an extended blurb.
Maybe, maybe not, but certainly in the artist and writer's yearbook and any 'How to Get Published' type books I've read, the examples given would be more in line with your first thoughts.


Jump to different Forum...