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You, Me & Subplots
JPKippling
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015 5:41 AM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26


Hi everyone. Get ready for a huge shock... I've been struggling with the synopsis for my MS (shocking, right?)

Here's the problem that I am always running into: I have one main plot, of course, and a few sub-plots. I've been reading about how to write a synopsis and the general opinion is that the synopsis should focus on the main plot and the MC without delving too much into sub plots.

Fair enough. Except I've realized that my sub plots are actually just as important as the main plot; in fact, without them my main plot is not really clear. For instance, characters who are enemies become involved in a sub plot then become more friendly and work together to solve a problem in the main plot. If there is no sub plot, characters go from disliking each other to liking each other (or vice versa) with no reason and that is just...weird.

So I tried to add some sub plots into the synopsis, but then it turned into "he did this, but meanwhile, this other thing is happening, okay so now back to the first thing" or trying to separate the plots but that turns into "he was doing this, for reasons that are explained in another plot, so...just assume it makes sense... so then he did this other thing"

What should I do? Forget the sub plots? Try to wrangle them all in? I am in desperate need of help right now!!


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015 9:13 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Hi, JP

 

You're having the same problem, huh? About the subplots? I've recently written my synopsis for Destiny's Bond, and I have this advice: Leave out the subplots. As much as it hurts, as much as it chips away at your brain, leave them out. I had to leave out whole characters while writing my synopsis, because they weren't part of the main plot. It's best to write the synopsis in a way that lets you leave out those sidepaths.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Amber


JPKippling
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 1:43 AM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26


Hey Amber, I can always count on you to respond quickly to my questions. Amber to the rescue!

 

Thanks for tip, I'll give that a try... By the way, what is the recommended length on a synopsis? I've been reading different things and I don't know who to trust.

Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 11:46 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


(Sorry for taking so long to respond, had doctor appointments today, so didn't log on until a couple minutes ago)

 

Honestly, it depends on the publisher you plan to submit to--you should go to their website and look for their submission guidelines. Some publishers want 2 pages, others 3, 5, 10, and so on. If the publisher doesn't have submission guidelines, then it's likely they don't allow open submissions, meaning you'll have to hire an agent to find out.

 

On the other hand, if the publisher has submission guidelines, but doesn't mention a synopsis, then you should go under the assumption that they don't require one. Awesome, right? 

 

That's the best advice I can give--research the publisher, and follow their guidelines to a T. They should mention how many pages the synopsis should be, if they want one.

 

Amber

--edited by Amber J. Wolfe on 7/28/2015, 11:48 PM--


JPKippling
Posted: Sunday, August 9, 2015 9:25 PM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26


After hours of staring at my computer and heavy use of the backspace key, I've finally come up with a synopsis. I'm afraid that it is STILL a bit too long (it's 2 pages, double spaced, TNR size 12) but I'm not sure. If anyone can take a look at it and tell me if there is something I could change to make it better, please let me know!


      The year is 1911 and Julien Størgård is one year away from graduating university in Marseilles, France. His life seems set: he has a lucrative career as a doctor ahead of him, as well as a charming French fiancée. This dream, however, is short lived. His fiancée is found frozen in ice, a most peculiar thing as it was only late autumn. Julien suspects that her death is linked to his engagement ring, which belonged to his late mother, but he is unable to prove anything.

Lacking a better explanation, French authorities accuse Julien of murder. Due to the absence of evidence, he isn't arrested but is expelled from university and sent back to his home country, Denmark. When Julien arrives in Copenhagen, he anticipates a warm welcome, but is disappointed to find that his fatheris cold and distant. Julien's clever, bookish sister Rochelle is aggressively unwelcoming. She feels that Julien abandoned her to the grey and lifeless city of Copenhagen six years ago.

Julien begins to notice strange things happening in the Størgård mansion- porcelain dolls are found in strange locations around the house and his late mother's necklace goes missing. Julien is a man of science, however, and his mind is too sharp to be tainted by ghost stories and unexplained events.

Despite having trained to be a doctor, it is generally accepted by Julien's father and upper class Danish society that he will continue in the family tradition of working at the Størgård brewing company. Trapped by expectations and his own timidness, Julien is pulled into a dull life at the factory.

Everything changes when Julien meets an aristocrat who decides to trust Julien with the secret to his business success. He is the owner of a dingy tavern but, more importantly, he is the owner of the Rød Syv, a club of brutish men who are paid to fight in the basement of the tavern.

The leader of the group is Mikhail Layhnfiera, a roguish blond with a taste for Størgård beer and garishly colored shirts. Mikhail also has a strangely intense interest in the Størgårds. This interest is not friendly or romantic. Rather, Mikhail has stolen the necklace from the Størgård estate to buy his way out of the Rød Syv.

Mikhail's plandramatically backfires when he discovers that the necklace is cursed. It sinks into his hand, slipping underneath his skin and moving slowly and painfully towards his heart. He believes that Rochelle and Julien have the ability to undo this. He tries to befriend them, but the attempt is botched by an argument between himself and the strong-willed Rochelle.

Not satisfied to become a victim, Mikhail attacks Rochelle and attempts to frame Julien for a crime to threaten them into helping him. With this abrupt introduction to magic, Rochelle and Julien find themselves depending on each other to find a solution. Julien is forced to become increasingly daring and to break the suffocating rules of upper-class Danish society.

Uncovering family secrets lead the siblings to an enchanted mirror that contains what is left of their deceased mother's spirit. The mirror explains that the enchanted jewelery take the negative emotions of anyone who touches them and amplifies the feelings. Julien's fiancée had always valued her beauty and feared aging, so she was preserved perfectly in ice. Mikhail's negative emotion is a penchant for slow, but sure, self-destruction.

The mirror also gives them instructions for a ritual to remove the necklace. During the ritual, Mikhail can't bring himself to trust his life to the Størgårds. He panics and destroys the process. The cursed necklace must take a life and, for a dark moment it seems that it will be Mikhail's, but Julien's father steps in and sacrifices himself.

Moments before his death, the father leaves Julien and Rochelle with a warning about Mikhail's dark past and the secrets that he has kept hidden from them. Rochelle is irresistibly drawn to the mirror's dark magic. Having discovered the truth about his mother's necklace, Julien realizes that his suspicions about his late mother's ring are probably correct. He discovers that the ring is missing.


Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015 9:04 AM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


Well, I can't really say whether it's too long, since I don't know what the guidelines are for the publisher you plan to submit to. But I'll give you my thoughts--Keep in mind I'm in no way an expert on synopses, so anything I write might be complete horse s**t

 

In all, I felt the synopsis read well, but I got bogged down in the halfway point. When you switched POV from Julien's to Mikhail's, I started to wonder if the rest of the story was mostly in his POV. Which, if it's not, is bad. You might want to consider revising this so the synopsis is in Julien's POV entirely.

 

As I said, not an expert on synopses. Hopefully someone with more experience will give you more solid feedback. That said, I hope anything I wrote is of use.

 

Amber


JPKippling
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 6:08 AM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26


Thanks, Amber!

 

Erg. Yeah, I see it now... the synopsis does switch POV in the middle. Oh no!

 

The book doesn't actually switch POVs (it's told entirely from Julien's perspective). Mikhail is (more or less, depending on his mood) the antagonist in the story, so his actions are a big driver of the plot. That said, he's still not the MC.

 

Should I add "Julien learns..." to make it clear that it is still in Julien's POV? Or should I make deeper changes?

Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 4:29 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539


You should probably rewrite that entire section so you're ensconced fully in Julien's POV. A synopsis is a tick off of all the major events in the novel--not what happens behind the POV character's back, without his knowledge (unless you show what's happening in the book itself). I'd start by writing a bullet point list of what happens in the second half of the manuscript, then weave it in to the synopsis, via Julien's POV.

 

Happy Writing!

 

Amber


 

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