Thursday, August 19, 2010

Synopsis 1: Alamandine's Song

OK, we're not waiting all the way over till September to look at synopses. Sorry.

This synopsis comes from the author of this query. She says: This is my "Short Synopsis" which comes in at a page and a half. I'm having a crazy hard time getting the love story in there (since it isn't really plot important in this one, but is crazy important in the next) and it feels rushed and dumb to me....HELP!"

I clocked it at 555 words, so YAY and Kudos for that! My detailed comments are below, but remember, one person shouting in the wind is just a crazy lady; several persons shouting are a lobby group. Come shout with me. Please.

Alamandine “MANDI” Croach (POV) chose her college because that was where her (very human) father taught before he died. Her mother left her a high-end jewelry store in Philadelphia, so that is where she lives and works. She accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her aunt's abilities and eccentricities or the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life.

She should have known something was up when the messenger, Hayune, shows up late one night demanding to have a serious conversation with her Aunt Merelda. As usual, Mandi leaves knowing nothing. Hayune shows up while Mandi is in the throes of some seriously overdue post-coital bliss, and drags her off- claiming there is a family emergency.

But not a part of her family that she knows anything about. Her mother isn't dead. She was forced back to Faelyn, the land of the faeries, to reign as Queen when Mandi was three. Her son, the Prince, has been kidnapped. Mandi doesn't think any of this should involve her, but it does. The monarchy is carried by the female line, and despite her mix breed heritage, and lack of obvious power, she is the only daughter.

Some don't like it. Especially the King, who hates Mandi on principle. They want the Prince to take the throne. Then there is Morgan, the woman who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne, but it will be much easier if both the heirs are out of the way.

Still wanting nothing to do with it, Mandi is tricked into doing a favor for a member of the Court. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: the dagger she was sent to retrieve, access to her powers, and the true memory of her father's death.

A naiad enchanted him, then drowned him. The naiad left Mandi with parting words that make it clear that his death is part of a larger scheme.

Mandi is sure that the kidnapping, and murder are connected. Finding the Prince will lead her father's killer. No one else has been able to find him, but knowing who she is looking for, and having the inside scoop from a guard that no one else would think to ask gives her the advantage. She also has the help of Hayune, but when things get messy he disappears on her.

She finds the Prince, and kills the naiad, but not before the naiad rambles on about her “master”- a shadowy male figure behind the plot. Mandi trusts no one in Faelyn, so she keeps him in the human realm for safe keeping. They are attacked by two guys who are obviously being controlled by magical means.

They survive the attack and return to Faelyn. The Prince sings Mandi's Song; convincing her mother that Mandi is worthy of contending for the crown, but that comes with a catch. The King, who doesn't like Mandi any better, even if she did save his son, has only one power- choosing the next king.

This book ends with Mandi faced with the fact that the life she has finally taken control of is once again taken out of her hands. I am currently writing the second novel and have an outline for the third.


Comments

Alamandine “MANDI” Croach (POV) chose her college because that was where her (very human) father taught before he died. Her mother – gone now for twenty-some years -- left her a high-end jewelry store in Philadelphia, so that is where she lives and works with her mother's eccentric sister. She accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her aunt's abilities and eccentricities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life.

She should have known something was up when the messenger, Hayune, shows pops up at the shop late one night demanding [why demanding?] to have a serious conversation with her Aunt Merelda. As usual, Mandi leaves [odd to have her leaving here] knowing nothing. Hayune shows up [is this some time later? As written, it sounds like this is the same visit where Mandi just left] while Mandi is in the throes [word choice? 'throes' sounds like she's still in the middle of it] of some seriously overdue post-coital bliss, and drags her off - claiming there is a family emergency [here's a great place to intro some of the romance and maybe some of the humor the query says is in the story]. Figures, just as things are heating up between her and [whoever], leave it to some freaking faery to turn on the fire hose.

And the family he's dragging her off to? There's serious drama there she doesn't want to get involved with. But not a part of her family that she knows anything about. Turns out her mother isn't dead after all. She was forced back to Faelyn, the land of the faery land (just south of and on the next existential plane over from Philly), to reign as Queen when Mandi was three. Her son, the Prince -- some half-brother Mandi didn't know existed -- has been kidnapped. Mandi doesn't think any of this should involve her, but it does. And to top it all off, the monarchy is carried by the female line; despite her mix-breed heritage and lack of obvious power, she Mandi is the only daughter. [I'm confused – sad about the prince, but what's the worry if her mom isn't dead and she's been the heir all along? Why is Mandi brought back now?]

Some don't like it. Especially the King, who hates Mandi on principle. [Does he really not have another motive? Jealousy? Hates half-breeds? Wants his own flesh and blood to ascend the throne?] They want the Prince to take the throne. [But if it's the female lineage, why wouldn't Merelda be next in line if Mandi's mom dies?] Then there is Morgan [why Morgan over Merelda?], the woman who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne, but it will be much easier if both the heirs need to be out of the way first.

Still wanting nothing to do with it, Mandi is tricked into doing a favor [probably won't take any more words to be specific – in fact, if it's something like "murdering Morgan" that's even one less word. To be granted all those gifts, it's got to be something big and important enough to recount in the synopsis.] for a member of the Court. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: the dagger she was sent to retrieve [huh? That's the favor – to find a dagger that's then returned to her? If it's magical, you probably want to say so. And you might indicate in the sentence before that the Court member is sympathetic to her claim to the throne and wanting to ensure she's equipped to take it if that's the reason they got her to do the favor], access to her powers [what are faery powers? Empathy? Seeing the future? Magic?], and the true memory of her father's death: A naiad enchanted him, then drowned him. [does it matter that he was enchanted first, especially when we're not told how?] He was drowned by a naiad. A The naiad who left Mandi with a few parting words that make it clear that his death is part of a larger scheme. The same scheme the prince's kidnapping is tied to. [Tie the two crimes together a little quicker.]

Mandi is sure that the kidnapping and murder are connected. Finding the Prince will lead to her father's killer. No one else has been able to find him the prince, but knowing who she is looking for, and having the inside scoop from a guard that no one else would think to ask [this is unclear; why would she think to ask him? And why would a guard not step forward if s/he has info that could lead to the kidnapped prince?] and a clue from a guard who swears he saw the river change course to the north the night the prince went missing gives her the advantage. She also has the help of Hayune, but when things get messy he disappears on her. [Unless Hayune is a deus ex machina later in the story, this can be left out.]

She finds the Prince, and kills the naiad [with the dagger? It's still on the mantel in the drawing room – either use it or lose it], but not before the naiad rambles on [word choice? Would a naiad ramble on in the face of death?] hints that the real godfather behind the plot is still out there. about her “master”- a shadowy male figure [does the naiad really make him sound like a shadowy male figure during her ramblings?] behind the plot. Mandi Trusting no one in Faelyn, so she keeps him in Mandi flees with the prince to the human realm for safe keeping, where they are promptly attacked by two guys hit men/wise guys [consider your word choices carefully for conveying the feel of the story. Your query hints at a "mob" feel, right?] who are obviously being controlled by magical means.

They survive the attack and, finally realizing just how long a reach and deep a plot the faery mobster has developed, Mandi returns to Faelyn. The Prince sings Mandi's Song; [not necessary; I know you're trying to tie in the title, but the original definition of 'song' is 'story' (like in "The Song of Roland") so I don't think you need to bring up it's a real song in the synopsis] convincing her mother that Mandi is worthy of contending for the crown [her mother wasn't convinced before? And does the crown have to be won? I thought it simply passed through the maternal line. And we don't get anything of how Mandi feels about the crown. She's back in Faelyn but does that mean she's ready to accept the crown whether her mother approves or not?], but that comes with a catch. The King, who doesn't like Mandi any better, even if she did save his son, [I'm still thinking the king's motivations aren't well-grounded enough. Would he be pissed that some half-breed was able to find the prince when a whole legion of faery guards couldn't? Is he pissed that it won't be his son ascending the throne now?] has only one power in the regency - choosing the next king. And Mandi is pretty sure it won't be the sweet barrister in Philly she's been missing more than any royal faery princess has a right to.

This book ends with Mandi Faced with the fact that the life she has finally taken control of is once again taken out of her hands, Mandi [does what? Resigns herself to an arranged marriage while desperately searching for a loophole? Vows that it's time for tradition to change? I think to finish off Mandi's growth arc, we need to know where she's left emotionally in the story and what her next planned move will be.] . I am currently writing the second novel and have an outline for the third.

I think you've got most of the plot elements down fine. Now you just need to add a little voice to it through a few different word choices and make sure the ending feels wrapped up in the synopsis. If the love interest doesn't play a huge role here, you don't need to play it up. I don't think readers looking for a romance are going to sit still through book one if there isn't much romance in it, so no need to try to sell the love interest in subsequent books here. You can pitch this one as urban fantasy with romantic elements.

Another thing you might think about doing is giving us a couple of more sentences when Mandi returns to the human realm so we're reminded why this can be considered urban fantasy rather than just contemporary fantasy. And you've got a couple of characters at a bit of a loose end: Merelda and Morgan. Maybe they ARE at a loose end at the end of the book, but if not, maybe a sentence each to close their loops would be good, too. And one last observation: the shadowy master seems to disappear once Mandi's back in Faelyn. Perhaps a hint at the end that maybe she isn't safe from him still?

43 comments:

AA said...

Phoenix already hit on most of what I was confused about, but we're not a lobby group yet, so here's my take on it:

The maternal line thing confuses me, too. This would make Mandi the only contender for the throne no matter what her qualifications are. If a male heir can be chosen instead, it isn't a female line to the throne. Unless the Prince turns out to be a girl, in which case the story takes on a whole new dimension.

What difference does any of this make if Mandi's mother is already the Queen? Do they expect her to die at any time now? Do reigns have term limits?

I would understand the backstory better if I knew when her father died. Did he die before or after Mandi's mother left? Was Mandi raised by the father or the aunt?

I doubt that her mother left her a jewelry store when Mandy was three. I don't think that's even legal. She left it to the aunt, right?

If the ONLY power the king has is choosing the next king, how can he cause Mandi so much trouble? He's basically a figurehead. In that case you wouldn't need a King at all. The Queen could just reproduce using drones, or have a harem. Hmmm...a male harem...

I don't understand the ending. Mandi has not ascended the throne. Her mother isn't dead. The King still hates her. The Prince is back, but he doesn't seem to do too much in the story anyway. Seems like a kind of impasse. Maybe not the greatest way to end a story. I know there's supposed to be another book after this one, but this book still has to wrap up somehow.

Hope this helps. Good luck :)

LSimon said...

Alright, I'm gonna try to flesh some of this out so that MAYBE there is a chance to straighten out the curly bits :)

She's a halfling- and a child produced when her mother was running away from her responsibilities to the Court. There has never been a Queen who was anything less than 100% faery, and there are lots of ambitious people (Morgan, the King and the unknown figure that moves in the shadows) that would prefer a different outcome.

The Queen would usually be able to shut them down, but because of her attempts to keep Mandi safe, she has sold off a bit of her power.

The Queen has reached her "Season of Ease" also known in the human realm as menopause- so no pure bred daughter will be born. So they are left with the choice of a halfbreed, the prince, or Morgan.

Merelda is both younger than Morgan and was banished from Faelyn when she decided to raise Mandi- so she could not be queen.

Mandi's father died when she was 9. He owned the store till he died. It was left to Mandi (but run by Merelda ) in trust till she 21.(But I'm not wasting my precious 500 words on the details of the wills!(:)

The King hates Mandi because he hates humans and because she is proof that his wife doesn't love him and...well, because he's a hateful, power-hungry bastard.

Also the guys that come after her are more zombies than hit-men.

Hayune is my real dilemma. He is where the real love story is, but he starts looking like a bad guy (when he disappears just when she needs him most--which is why I mention it)

In the end, she decides to submit to being put through all the crap that comes with a possible arranged marriage though she put her foot down and insists on doing it on her own terms.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Awesome job putting this into so few words. And kudos for sticking it on this chopping block. Here’s a few swings with my axe. (Mine’s in the mix and I welcome payback)


Why is MANDI capped? No one else is. (POV)? Is this to identify the main character? I’ve never seen that convention before. Is that common in this genre?

First sentence doesn’t flow. Do we need Alamandine? Is it enough to call her Mandi from the start?

We jump from college to the jewelry store. Is she in college, working or both? Is the college in the same town as the jewelry store?

Then we segue to faeries without warning. I’m confused by this first paragraph. The three sentences seem very disconnected. Both the college and the jewelry store disappear from the rest of the story. Two thirds of the beginning anchor are not used. The aunt disappears, too.

What’s Mandi’s reaction to being dragged off from her bliss? Spice this up with who Mandi is. I want to get a feel for the MC.

Watch for repetition. “Shows up” shows up twice in the second paragraph.

To be interesting, the synopsis should be a short story based on the book. Flavor, voice, spice, tension – can all help this light up.

What’s Mandi’s reaction to finding out her mom is alive? Isn’t the prince Mandi’s brother of some sort?

Mandi is portrayed here as being pushed around by events and other characters. Where’s her influence? I want her to be likable – what’s likable about her?


Here’s a bit of example:

To Mandi Croach, normal means faeries exist. That explains her aunt's abilities and eccentricities and the gorgeous messenger, Hayune, who literally pops in and out of her life.

When Hayune ruins Mandi’s long overdue post-coital bliss to drag her off for a family emergency, she fantasizes about the many ways to kill a faerie. That delicious bubble bursts when she finds out the emergency is for a part of her family she knows nothing about.

Seems her ‘dead’ mother was really forced back to Faelyn, the land of the faeries, to reign as Queen when Mandi was three. Shocker. And so what if this kidnapped Prince guy is her half brother? Mandi doesn't think any of this should involve her. But the Faelyn monarchy is carried by the female line. Despite having a human father, and her all too obvious lack of power, Mandi is the heir to the throne. A fact that some would like to change no matter who gets hurt.



I didn't get to all of it yet. Working from home today.

Sarah Laurenson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Laurenson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Laurenson said...

Sorry. Blogger glitch.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I guess you need her full name because of the title.

LSimon said...

I did the all caps with the (POV) designation because I read in an agent's blog somewhere that it was helpful to let folks know who your POV character is in this way- especially if you have lost of characters introduced at the beginning. The opening is really to let the reader know who Mandi is- she is a bit of a door mat. In a genre populated mostly by bad-ass babes who go around having sex with vamps and kicking demon butt, she is...well, she isn't!

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's not hard to see who your POV character is. I don't think you need the extras, you show it well enough.

She can be a doormat, but she needs to be a relatable one. Why do I want to spend 200+ pages with her? What's her flavor?

AA said...

That explains a lot.

I still don't understand who Morgan is. Is she the Queen's sister? You suggest this, but it's never stated.

I guessed the part about the menopause. So that made sense. The Queen can't have more children, so we have to choose somebody who's already been born.

I also guessed that Hayune is the love interest, as I think most people did. Mainly because he's gorgeous and he's the only character you've mentioned who it could really be. You probably don't even need too much about this, maybe a line or two, because it's basically implied.

Now I understand better why Mandi might not be Queen. The halfling thing is more of an obstacle than I thought.

The synopsis didn't make it clear to me that the King has ambitions of his own. It seemed more like he was annoyed at Mandi because she proves his wife cheated on him, which is true, but I think you meant to say that the King would rather put the Prince on the throne as a puppet monarch, easily led by his father. If this is what you meant, it makes sense.

I still don't get why all of this is important at this point in time. In other words, why can't her mother continue reigning as Queen?

If you'd added that she was 9 when her father died, I would have automatically known that she was mostly raised by her aunt, and then would have inferred that the only reason her aunt is in the human world in the first place is to raise Mandi. That leads naturally to the fact that she was banished from Faelyn, and so forth.

I, also, was confused about the "song" part until Phoenix put in that it was actually a ballad. I thought maybe it was a song her mother used to sing to her. I think it would be cool to have it in the synopsis, if you point out that it's actually a ballad the Prince wrote about her.

Again, hope this helps. Keep it up, you'll get there. :)

Michelle said...

I think the paragraph you use to sum up the ending in your comments sounds pretty good. Put something like that into the synopsis. Using crap adds to the voice.

There were a few lines that you cut short and they became confusing. As usual she left knowing nothing or a line to that effect. You need to tell us she knows nothing because her Aunt is stonewalling her.

I have the advantage of reading the ms, and you have left out how she is unsure who to trust. Suspicion falls on everyone, especially those closest to her. I think some of that should be in the synopsis.

AA said...

I agree with Sarah that a lot of the emotional content is left out of the synopsis so it's hard to get a feel for the characters involved.
For instance, instead of, "Her mother isn't dead," (so matter-of-fact) you could do something like, "Shocked to discover her mother isn't dead..."
Or, instead of, "She finds the Prince and kills the Naiad,"(all in a day's work, hey?) maybe something like "She rescues the Prince and exacts revenge on the evil creature that killed her father."
As for her father's death, "A Naiad enchanted, then drowned him" is coldly emotionless. I doubt Mandi feels this way about it. Reliving this painful experience has got to be gut- wrenching for her. It's probably more like, "Mandi is horrified to discover that her father was deliberately drowned," or something like that.

Phoenix said...

Maybe it's just how I read it, but two things that seemed obvious to others didn't seem so obvious to me. Sorry.

I initially thought Hayune was the love interest except he doesn't seem to be the one Mandi's having sex with and the part with him ducking out on her (I also vaguely thought I remembered from one of the query versions she was wanting to go back to the human realm because she had someone waiting there). I indeed interpreted that last that he's a wimp who runs when the going gets tough and completely lost sympathy for him there, especially if he's the love interest. If there's a good motive for him to do that, let's have it. The first part could use some emotion from either M or H - Mandi is embarrassed or consternated or something to be caught post-coital by H or H is angry or oddly quiet/stiff/formal when he catches her that way.

And I never once read into the plot that the faery king was cheated on. I made a wrong assumption that Mom had married/cohabited with M's real dad and then married the King after returning to Faelyn. So that helps with the King's motive. But we never get a motive for Mom abandoning M in the human realm. Maybe something to make her sympathetic like: All of Mom's scheming to keep her daughter safe from the brutal politics of her world are for naught when Hayune shows up with Mandi in tow.

Which then makes me ask the question: Who asked H to bring her back?

LSimon said...

All good points.... thanks so much...processing....I'll be back with new (& hopefully improved version 2.0 soon)

Also awesome shout out to Michelle who actually slogged through reading this thing in one of its more hideous forms and in one that might be considered sort of potable!

LSimon said...

**Word count has gone up. Let me know what ya think**

Philadelphia born and bred, Alamandine “Mandi” Croach accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her Aunt Merelda's abilities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life. Not that it means much to her. As far as she can tell Merelda thinks she's an easily manipulated kid and Hayune—well, Mandi doubts he thinks about her at all.
After an uncharacterically bold evening out with an old crush, Mandi finds herself going from the foggy depths of seriously overdue post-coital bliss to being dragged off by an extremely grouchy Hayune. There's been a family emergency.
A trip to visit her mother has always meant a clutch of flowers and a conversation with a stone. But her mother isn't dead. She was forced back to Faelyn, the land of the faeries, to reign as Queen when Mandi was three. Her son, the Prince, has been kidnapped. Mandi dknows from eavesdropping on Merelda and Hayune over the years that faery drama is nothing she wants to get involved with, but she has no choice. The monarchy is carried by the female line and the Queen can have no more children. Despite her mix breed heritage, and lack of obvious power, she is the only daughter.
Some don't like it. Especially the King, who hates humans, half-breeds and bitches named Mandi. He and his cohorts want the Prince to take the throne. Tipping the scales a little more to the side of chaos is Aunt Morgan, the woman who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne since she is pure blood and still able to produce daughters, but it will be much easier if both the heirs are out of the way.
Still wanting nothing to do with it, Mandi is tricked into doing a favor for a member of the Court. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: the magically enhanced dagger she was sent to retrieve, access to her powers, and the true memory of her father's death.
He was drowned by a naiad, who left Mandi with a few parting words that make it clear that his death is part of a larger scheme. The same scheme the prince's kidnapping is tied to.
Finding the Prince will lead her father's killer. No one else has been able to find him, but knowing who she is looking for gives her the advantage. She enlists Hayune's help, and together they go in search of the murderous lake-skank. Just as they get close to finding her, Mandi is attacked. She recovers to find both Hayune and her attacker have disappeared.
Mandi continues her search alone, and finds the Prince. After putting up with the naiad raving about the power and the glory of her “master”-- the shadowy male figure behind the plot-- and a fierce battle, the naiad ends up with Mandi's new dagger buried deep in her inner thigh. Evidence of is piling up around Hayune, and he was the only faery in Faelyn that she thought she could trust, so she keeps the Prince in the human realm for safe keeping. While trying to keep him entertained they are attacked by two guys who are obviously being controlled by magical means that Prince Prase cliams are the stuff of legend.
Mandi and Prase survive the attack, but the zombie-like attackers do not and the siblings return to Faelyn at the appointed time. Saving the Prince when no one else could shuts up those who find the halfling princess unworthy of the crown, but it comes with a catch. The King, who hates Mandi more than ever, has only one power- choosing the next king.
The Choosing is a dangerous game for the candidates and Mandi is shocked to find both Hayune and the very human guy she caught her with on the list. The naiad's Master still lurks in the shadows, a threat to Mandi and everyone she loves. In the end, she decides to submit to being put through all the crap that comes with a possible arranged marriage though she put her foot down and insists on doing it on her own terms.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Infinitely better! The flow is better, the pacing is better. There are nice details and a good feel for Mandi.

Still has some confusing parts and a couple of missing words. I cut ands rearranged a little bit and interspersed comments and questions.

Apparently, I have to do this in multiple comments though.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Philadelphia born and bred, Alamandine “Mandi” Croach accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her Aunt Merelda's abilities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger who literally pops in and out of her life. But as far as she can tell, Merelda thinks she's an easily manipulated kid and Hayune—well, Mandi doubts he thinks about her at all.

After an uncharacteristically bold evening out with an old crush, Mandi is yanked from the foggy depths of seriously overdue post-coital bliss by an extremely grouchy Hayune. There's a family emergency. A trip to visit her mother had always meant a clutch of flowers and a conversation with a stone. But Mandi discovers that her mother isn't dead. She’s Queen of Faelyn, the land of the faeries, and she was forced back there when Mandi was three.

From past eavesdropping on Merelda and Hayune, Mandi knows that faery drama is nothing she wants to get involved with, but she has no choice. The monarchy is carried by the female line and the Queen can have no more children. Despite her mixed breed heritage, and lack of obvious power, Mandi is the only daughter.

Some don't like it. Especially the King, who hates humans, half-breeds and bitches named Mandi. He and his cohorts want the Prince to take the throne, but the Prince has been kidnapped. Tipping the scales a little more to the side of chaos is Aunt Morgan – pure blood and still able to produce daughters. She would have been Queen if Mandi's mother hadn’t returned. There is a push to put Morgan on the throne. A task that’s easier to do if both heirs are out of the way. [There’s only one heir mentioned]

Sarah Laurenson said...

Mandi is tricked into doing a favor for a member of the Court. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: a magically enhanced dagger, access to her [buried] powers, and the true memory of her father's death. He was drowned by a naiad.

This naiad left Mandi [when did they meet?] with a few parting words that make it clear that her father’s death is part of a larger scheme. The same scheme the prince's kidnapping is tied to. Finding the Prince will lead to her father's killer [But didn’t they just meet?]. No one else has been able to find him, but knowing who she is looking for gives her the advantage. [How?] She enlists Hayune's help, and together they go in search of the murderous lake-skank. Just as they get close to finding her, Mandi is attacked. She recovers to find both Hayune and her attacker have disappeared.

Mandi continues her search alone and finds the Prince. After putting up with the naiad raving about the power and the glory of her “master”-- the shadowy male figure behind the plot -- and a fierce battle, the naiad ends up with Mandi's new dagger buried deep in her inner thigh. Evidence of [what?] is piling up around Hayune. He was the only faery in Faelyn that she thought she could trust, so she keeps the Prince in the human realm for safe keeping. While trying to keep him entertained they are attacked by two guys who are obviously being controlled by magical means that Prince Prase [rather late to give him a name] claims are the stuff of legend. [Who’s gathering this evidence against Hayune? Who’s investigating any of this?]

Mandi and Prase survive the attack, but the zombie-like attackers do not and the siblings return to Faelyn at the appointed time. Saving the Prince when no one else could shuts up those who find the halfling princess unworthy of the crown, but it comes with a catch. The King, who hates Mandi more than ever, has only one power - choosing the next king.

The Choosing is a dangerous game for the candidates and Mandi is shocked to find both Hayune and the very human guy she caught her with [Who?] on the list. The naiad's Master still lurks in the shadows, a threat to Mandi and everyone she loves. In the end, she decides to submit to being put through all the crap that comes with a possible arranged marriage though she puts her foot down and insists on doing it on her own terms.

AA said...

This is much better. Less confusing.

Good idea not mentioning the jewelry store. It was distracting trying to work out the logistics of that. I couldn't tell if Mandi had already graduated from college or was working and going to college at the same. It isn't that important to the rest of the story, anyway.

I still don't understand the naiad leaving Mandi parting words (when?) and how she could have forgotten watching her father die.

If you look at it you'll probably see a few subject/object agreement problems. I noticed some in the first version, too. Here's one: "While trying to keep him entertained they are attacked by two guys." This assumes a fifth person. Also, "knowing who she's looking for gives her the advantage." Well, they all know who they're looking for- the Prince. ;) Of course you're referring to the naiad, but don't think it's nit-picking. If the agent gets the idea you can't use grammar properly you're sunk. I'm sure you'd have cleaned it up later, that's just a reminder. (Come to think of it, it's technically WHOM she's looking for...)

BTW, I really do feel names should be used the first time an important character is mentioned, even if the person was named in the query. It's just good form, and eliminates confusion.

I don't like the last sentence. How can a prospective bride conduct an arranged marriage on her own terms? It wouldn't be an arranged marriage then, would it? This is like that female lineage thing, isn't it? ;) I assume she's just pretending to go along with it but secretly has her own plan. Am I close?

"Raving" is a good word choice.

Michelle said...

I was going to comment about the name thing also in the new version. I thought Prase's name should have been included earlier.

LSimon said...

How specific do I need to get? I am currently just over my 2 page limit and I am not sure that it is possible to answer all the questions in less words. :(

Phoenix said...

I don't think there are that many outstanding questions. Sarah did a really good edit to tighten it some, leaving a bit of wiggle room for some clarification.

For example:
No one else has been able to find him, but knowing who she is looking for gives her the advantage.

could become:
Since no one else suspects it was the naiad who kidnapped him, Mandi has the advantage now in finding him.


He was drowned by a naiad, who left Mandi with a few parting words...

becomes:
He was drowned in front of her by a naiad who left her three-year-old self with magically induced amnesia -- but only after a few parting words by the naiad make it clear her father's death ...

Like AA, I'm not loving this as the wrap-up:
In the end, she decides to submit to being put through all the crap that comes with a possible arranged marriage though she put her foot down and insists on doing it on her own terms.

What's her reason for deciding this? Are her terms to keep the candidates safe? And "possible" is extranneous here.

The Choosing is a dangerous game for the candidates and Mandi is shocked to find both Hayune and the human guy he caught her in flagrante delicto with on the list. With the men she's closest to facing possible death in the Choosing and with the naiad's Master still lurking in the shadows -- a threat to Mandi and everyone she loves -- she makes a difficult decision. She'll submit to being put through all the crap that comes with an arranged marriage as long as those not Chosen are allowed to go free. With a delight that practically shouts a trap's been sprung, the king agrees and Mandi's fate is left hanging on his decree.

LSimon said...

Philadelphia born and bred, Alamandine “Mandi” Croach accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her Aunt Merelda's abilities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life. Not that it means much to her. As far as she can tell Merelda thinks she's an easily manipulated kid and Hayune—well, Mandi doubts he thinks about her at all.
After an uncharacterically bold evening out with an old crush, Mandi finds herself going from the foggy depths of seriously overdue post-coital bliss to being dragged off by an extremely grouchy Hayune. There's a family emergency. A trip to visit her mother has always meant a clutch of flowers and a conversation with a stone. But Mandi discovers her mother isn't dead. She was forced back to Faelyn, the land of the faeries, to reign as Queen when Mandi was three.
Mandi knows from eavesdropping on Merelda and Hayune over the years-- faery drama is nothing she wants to get involved with, but she has no choice. The monarchy is carried by the female line and the Queen can have no more children. Despite her mix breed heritage, and lack of obvious power, she is the only daughter.

LSimon said...

Some don't like it. Especially the King, who hates humans, half-breeds and bitches named Mandi. He and his cohorts want Prince Prase to take the throne. Tipping the scales a little more to the side of chaos is Aunt Morgan, the woman who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne since she is pure blood and still able to produce daughters, but it will be much easier if both the Queen's children were out of the way.
Still wanting nothing to do with it, Mandi is tricked into doing a favor for a member of the Court. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: the magically enhanced dagger she was sent to retrieve, access to her buried powers, and the unaltered memoryof her father's death.
He was drowned in front of her by a naiad who left her nine-year-old self with magically induced amnesia -- but only after a few parting words by the naiad make it clear her father's death is part of a larger scheme. The same scheme the prince's kidnapping is tied to.
Finding the Prince will lead her father's killer. And since no one else suspects it was the naiad who kidnapped him, Mandi has the advantage. She enlists Hayune's help, and together they go in search of the murderous lake-skank. Just as they get close to finding her, Mandi is attacked. She recovers to find both Hayune and her attacker have disappeared.
Mandi continues her search alone, and finds the Prince. After putting up with the naiad raving about the power and the glory of her “master”-- the shadowy male figure behind the plot-- and a fierce battle, the naiad ends up with Mandi's new dagger buried deep in her inner thigh. Evidence of double dealing is piling up around Hayune, and he was the only faery in Faelyn she thought she could trust, so she keeps Prince Prase in the human realm for safe keeping. While trying to keep him entertained they are attacked by two guys who are obviously being controlled by a magic that Prince Prase claims is the stuff of legend.
Mandi and Prase survive the attack, but the zombie-like attackers do not and the siblings return to Faelyn at the appointed time. Saving the Prince when no one else could shuts up Mandi's detractors in the Court, but it comes with a catch. The King, who hates Mandi more than ever, has only one power- choosing the next king.
The Choosing is a dangerous game for the candidates and Mandi is shocked to find both Hayune and the human guy he caught her in flagrante delicto with on the list. With the men she's closest to facing possible death in the Choosing and with the naiad's Master still lurking in the shadows -- a threat to Mandi and everyone she loves -- she makes a difficult decision. She'll submit to being put through all the crap that comes with an arranged marriage. It's obvious the faeries have never done anything like this before. They are making the rules up as they go along. Mandi is ready to make some rules up of her own.

If I cheat I can fit this on two pages. If you see anyplace that I can cut a little fat, lemme know

Michelle Massaro said...
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Michelle Massaro said...
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Michelle Massaro said...
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Michelle Massaro said...

Hello! Sorry I haven't weighed in till now. I hope this doesn't come across to harsh, but I have some things to point out. Here goes...

I don't think your "post-coital bliss" has any bearing on the synopsis other than that perhaps you are so enamored with the line you hate to let it go. I would cut it.

Same with being tricked into doing a favor, etc. It clutters up the main point- she recovers her memory and power. There's no space in the synopsis to explain what the favor was or how she was tricked or how it all comes down- so just leave that out. Jump right to the fact that in Faelyn she recovers her buried memory and suppressed power.

This line is a bit abrupt: "Mandi continues her search alone, and finds the Prince." For such a huge accomplishment, this garners too little fanfare in the reading, IMO. Contrast that with the following line which I believe has too much detail and focus: “After putting up with the naiad raving about the power and the glory of her “master”-- the shadowy male figure behind the plot-- and a fierce battle, the naiad ends up with Mandi's new dagger buried deep in her inner thigh." Does it matter that it was her inner thigh? Is this more important than how she finally finds her long lost brother? I'm sure you could shorten this information to simply say that she defeats the naiad in battle.

"so she keeps Prince Prase in the human realm for safe keeping" (You should change the first use of the word "keeps" to something like "takes" or "sends" to avoid the double use in one sentence).

"While trying to keep him entertained they are attacked by two guys who are obviously being controlled by a magic that Prince Prase claims is the stuff of legend." This is a very awkward and long sentence. Entertained how? Is something kinky going on between brother and sister? Why is it important that she was "entertaining" him at the time of the attack? The rest of the sentence with the description of the enchanted bad guys is clumsy as well. Trips up the tongue and the mind and makes the reader have to slow down to follow along. Agents don't want to slow down.

"Saving the Prince when no one else could shuts up Mandi's detractors in the Court, but it comes with a catch." What comes with a catch? This structure suggests that the saving of the prince is what comes with a catch and I don't think that's what you are saying. I think you are letting your cleverness of speech overpower the directness of your message once again. "Her successful rescue of the Prince earns her enough respect to take the throne, but the King has the power to choose her mate." There, done.

"the human guy he caught her in flagrante delicto with on the list" Too cluttered for me. "The man she's crushed on for years" would suffice, especially if you took my advice and nixed the "post-coital bliss" in the beginning.

Overall, I'm sorry but I have to say this to be honest about my impression, I think that you are stumbling over yourself trying too hard to sound witty. The synopsis does not have to be as clever as the the manuscript. Hint at your voice and the feel of the book, but don't get so enamored of your turns-of-phrase that you clutter up the summary of the story. If you're familiar with The Simpsons you might recognize the line "smacks of effort". That's kind of what I get when I read through this synopsis. There's too much to wade through trying to get to the message of each sentence. Not that you want it to be boring. But I think you are swinging too far the other way. Does this make sense or do I just sound like a jerk? I'm sorry if I do but if I didn't tell you what I think I'd be doing you no favors, right?

I hope this has helped and not come across too harsh. I'm only trying to be honest and provide another point of view for you.

Good luck! :)

Michelle Massaro said...

Sorry, blogger troubles!

LSimon said...

It's funny because some of the stuff you seem to take issue with are things that I changed to answer other people's questions. I'll keep working

However...

"Entertained how? Is something kinky going on between brother and sister?"<< Darlin' if this is where your mind goes when you hear about a older sister entertaining her younger brother...I'm not sure we can be friends! Yikes!

Phoenix said...

I would nix the "entertaining," too. But I was lazy and actually went with Sarah's edited version because she took out or reworded many of the things that I thought needed tweaking, too.

I think you've got it to a point now where YOU need to be comfortable with it. Look at everyone's suggestions, step away for a bit, then come back to it and make the tweaks YOU think work and put them in your voice.

The 5 stages of query writing apply to synopses, too. I think this is your Version 3 :o) Now on to V4!

Anonymous said...

Sarah did a great job. I salute you Sarah. Writer, I may be wrong but I believe the synopsis is the only place we can tell and NOT show.
I think it can be logically laid out Still too many questions for me. As EE told me over my 10 odd page query, once upon a humiliation, this is not the place for flowery writing. Don't stone me, please, but how would Grisham write this synopsis if it was his?
Since she was, she had to, causing then, making so and so do such and such. Complications ensue (don't write that please). You know.
I believe you have all the elements, but need to connect the dots clearly and simply.
Forget the images, adjectives, adverbs and go to bare bones. Who is the main character, what drives her what stops her and how does she get over (around) it which (I hope) outlines the plot. The point of the synopsis is to tell a story that hangs together well enough through the plot with crinky characters for the agent to say "Send it." I think that is the point - but I could be wrong.
You have great advice - I read all 30 odd comments. Simplify, simplify simplify. You can do it.
Best,
Bibi
PS Please correct my idea of a synopsis if I am out in left field guys. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dear LSimon,
You know what I learned from reading your posts? Don't ever change stuff attempting to answer/satisfy others. Thanks for reinforcing that. I bet your instincts are just fine - you only have some technical things here to work out. Go with your gut, it's never wrong. Show us your stuff. Be thrilled you generated so much interest, congrats. We wait like stray curs ready to pounce on a warm, live chicken and dine again on fresh blood (not really - see Divine Miss Phoenix doggy post).
Best,
Bibi

Sarah Laurenson said...

Here are my thoughts on the synopsis.

As with query letters, the synopsis is designed to generate interest in the manuscript. That's what will sell. Not the query, not the synopsis, but the book itself.

If the synopsis is dry or a chronological recital of events, that doesn't strike me as generating interest. Yes, it will give the editor or agent the structure of the story and its ending. If they get bored reading it though, you might blow your chance at getting any further.

If you can show something in the synopsis rather than tell it and not use a lot more words, then show it. Even better is to tell something while showing something else at the same time.

This line from another synopsis critique is a good example:
Breand├ín’s mother betrays him to the Elders of Light and he is banished from Earth, leaving Taylor alone and vulnerable.

Not only do we get the tell of what's happening, we get a feel for his mother.

My definition of synopsis: a recital of the events interspersed with juicy details that pull the reader into your world and make it come alive.

LSimon said...

First I want to thank everyone who has helped so far-- I know I might seem grumpy but well this sucks and it is necessary. I'm also a pain when I have to go to the dentist.

I have my next version...It keeps getting longer and longer! I'm officially over 800 words, but I think that this version explores the romance side of it a little more... don't go easy on me friends!

LSimon said...

Philadelphia born and bred, Alamandine “Mandi” Croach accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her Aunt Merelda's abilities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life. Not that it means much to her. As far as she can tell Merelda thinks she's an easily manipulated kid and Hayune—well, Mandi doubts he thinks about her at all.
After an uncharacterically bold evening out with an old crush, Mandi finds herself going from the foggy depths of seriously overdue post-coital bliss to being dragged off by an extremely grouchy Hayune. Since age three visiting her mother has always meant a clutch of flowers and a conversation with a headstone. But Mandi's mother isn't dead. She is alive and well in Faelyn, the realm of the faeries reigning as queen with a new husband and son, Prince Prase.
Faery drama is nothing Mandi wants to get involved with, but she has no choice. The monarchy is carried by the female line and the Queen can have no more children. Despite her mix breed heritage, and lack of power, Mandi is the only daughter.
Some in Faelyn seek change. The King, who hates humans, half-breeds and bitches named Mandi, wants Prince Prase to take the throne. Tipping the scales to the side of chaos is Aunt Morgan, who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne since she is pure blood and still able to produce daughters, but it will be much easier for her if both the Queen's children were out of the way.
Despite her best efforts, Mandi gets entangled in politics. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: a magically enhanced dagger, access to her buried powers, and the unaltered memory of her father's death.
He was drowned in front of her by a naiad who left her nine-year-old self with magically induced amnesia -- but only after a few parting words by the naiad make it clear her father's death is part of a larger scheme. The same scheme the prince's kidnapping is tied to.
Finding the Prince will lead her father's killer, and since no one else suspects the naiad kidnapped him, Mandi has the advantage. Together, Hayune and Mandi go in search of the murderous lake-skank. It takes everything Mandi has to get into that lake. Mandi puts herself completely in the hands of Hayune to overcome her fear of the water and tap into the power that water holds for their kind. Just as they find a naiad who is willing to tell them precisely who they are looking for and where she might be found, Mandi is attacked.

LSimon said...

She recovers to find both Hayune and her attacker have disappeared.
Once she's safe she finds that Hayune has been less that honest with her and all her dealings with him start to look like a set up. Was he helping her, or just finding out what she was capable of?
Mandi continues her search alone, finding the Prince in a cavern guarded by a sickly, crazed looking naiad. After putting up with the naiad raving about the power and the glory of her “master” and a fierce battle, the naiad ends up dead.
Hayune shows up long enough to confirm the Prince is safe then prompyly disappears again. Keeping Prince Prase in the human realm seems safest. Mandi is doing her best to keep the teenage boy entertained and distracted when they are attacked. The assailants are being controlled by a magic that Prince Prase claims is the stuff of legend. Mandi and Prase survive the attack, but the zombie-like attackers do not.
The siblings return to Faelyn. Saving the Prince when no one else could shuts up Mandi's detractors in the Court, but it comes with a catch. The King, who hates Mandi more than ever, has one power-- choosing the next king. As Mandi presents the rescued Prince, the King offers up six suitors-- a list that includes human guy she she's been sort of dating in the midst of the chaos and Hayune.
Hayune, who has kept secrets from her at her mother's behest. Who claims to have kept his distance out of a sense of decorum.Hayune, who says he loves her. Mandi's been waiting to hear those words for years, but it might be too late.
Men have never been willing to fight or die for Mandi's hand. She has never had magic powers or carried a knife strapped to her thigh. She's never had to kill to protect her family-- she's never really had a family. She's always been pushed into doing what everyone else wanted. Now they want her to marry some dude and be queen of the faeries. But they've never had a halfling queen before. She'll play their game, but she's going to make up some rules of her own.

AA said...

This is much better than it was. I did a tightening up edit of it, fixing some grammatical errors and some things that seemed repetitive and so forth. So, here is my version of this. See if you think any of this seems better or clearer than what you already have. I'll post it in my next two comments.

AA said...

Philadelphia born and bred, Alamandine “Mandi” Croach accepts the existence of faeries because nothing else explains her Aunt Merelda's abilities or Hayune, the gorgeous messenger that literally pops in and out of her life. Not that it means much to her. As far as she can tell Merelda thinks she's an easily manipulated kid and Hayune— well, Mandi doubts he thinks about her at all.
After an uncharacteristically bold evening out with an old crush, Mandi is dragged off to Faelyn, the realm of the Faeries, by a grouchy Hayune. Since she was three a visit to her mother has meant a clutch of flowers and a conversation with a headstone. But Mandi's mother isn't dead. She is alive and well in Faelyn, reigning as queen with a new husband and a son, Prince Prase.
Faery drama is nothing Mandi wants to get involved with, but she has no choice. The monarchy is carried by the female line and the Queen can have no more children. Mandi is of mixed- breed heritage and apparently has no powers, but she is the only daughter.
Some in Faelyn seek change. The King, who hates humans, half-breeds and bitches named Mandi, wants Prince Prase to take the throne. Tipping the scales to the side of chaos is Aunt Morgan, who would have been Queen if Mandi's mother had not returned. There is a push to put her on the throne since she is of pure blood, but it would be much easier for her if both the Queen's children were out of the way.
Despite her best efforts, Mandi gets entangled in politics. For her trouble, she receives several gifts: a magically enhanced dagger, access to her hidden powers, and the memory of her father's death.
When Mandi was nine, her father was drowned in front of her. The naiad who killed him used magic to erase the memory from young Mandi's mind. She now remembers the naiads parting words which make it clear her father's death is part of a larger scheme. Mandi is sure the same scheme required the kidnapping of the prince.
Finding the Prince will lead her to her father's killer, and since no one else suspects the naiad, Mandi has the advantage. Together, Hayune and Mandi go in search of the murderous lake-skank. It takes everything Mandi has to get into that lake. Mandi puts herself completely in the hands of Hayune to overcome her fear of the water and tap into the power that water holds for their kind. Just as they find a naiad who is willing to tell them where her father's killer might be found, Mandi is attacked.

AA said...
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AA said...
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AA said...
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AA said...

(Sorry! Blogger problems. Here's the rest.)

She recovers to find both Hayune and her attacker have disappeared.
Once she's safe she discovers that Hayune has been less than honest with her and all her dealings with him start to look like a set up. Was he helping her, or just finding out what she was capable of doing with her new powers?
Mandi continues her search alone, finding the Prince in a cavern guarded by the naiad, now looking ill and crazed. Sick of the naiad's ravings about the power and glory of her "master", Mandi attacks the naiad. After a fierce battle, Mandi's old enemy is dead.
Hayune shows up long enough to confirm the Prince is safe, then annoyingly disappears again. Keeping Prince Prase in the human realm seems safest. Mandi is doing her best to keep the teenage boy entertained and distracted when they are attacked. The assailants are being controlled by a magic that Prince Prase claims is the stuff of legend. Mandi and Prase survive the attack, but the zombie-like attackers do not.
The siblings return to Faelyn where Mandi presents the prince she rescued. This promptly shuts up Mandi's detractors in the Court, but not the King, who hates Mandi more than ever. The King has one power-- choosing the next king. He offers Mandi a list of six suitors. The list includes the human guy she's been sort of dating in the midst of the chaos, and Hayune.
Hayune, who has kept secrets from her at her mother's behest. Hayune, who claims to have kept his distance out of a sense of decorum and who says he loves her. Mandi's been waiting to hear those words for years, but it might be too late.
Men had never before been willing to fight or die for Mandi's hand. Then again, Mandi has never had magic powers or carried a knife strapped to her thigh. She's never had to kill to protect her family-- she's never really had a family. She'd always allowed herself to be pushed into going along with what everyone else wanted. Now they want her to marry some dude and be queen of the faeries. But they've never had a halfling queen before. She'll play their game, but she's going to make up some rules of her own.