Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Synopsis 2: Beauty for Ashes

The query that goes with this synopsis can be found here.

This one clocks in at EXACTLY 1000 words. :o) 

My comments/edits follow. Yours are especially welcome!

Jonathan Douglas had a beautiful young wife, a new baby, and a faith in God he thought couldn’t be shaken. When a desperate phone call sends him racing home, he arrives to find the air filled with smoke and ash, while neighbors and firemen surround his smoldering house. The deaths of his wife and infant daughter end life as he knows it.

John rebels against God and begins a downward spiral into depression. Haunted by vivid nightmares, John turns to alcohol for escape. He eventually makes his way to Las Vegas where he alternately gives himself over to despair, and fights off the pain with drink. The Lord pleads with him to return to God, but he defiantly pushes away the beseeching call of Christ, determined to never let go of what happened.

April considers herself strong and independent. As a child, she lived under a burden of secrets, watching her mother jump from one abusive relationship to another while she hid and waited for help that never came. Now an adult, April doesn’t recognize the verbal abuse that’s crept into her own relationship. But when her boyfriend turns physically violent, April refuses to be a victim.

She takes off. , and melts into the crowds of Vegas, fighting to start over. After living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April lands an apartment and roommate. But rent money slips through her fingers when she accuses her supervisor of attempted rape and is promptly fired. The job market is dry and she is out of time to make the rent. Her desperation to keep that new roof over her head causes her to rethink the unsavory offer for her “services” she’d recently received at a nightclub. John meanwhile decides to end his life. He meets April in the hotel bar while he is basking in his memories one last time. She reminds him so much of his deceased wife that he throws himself into the paid fantasy. He wakes up the next morning to a shattered illusion and profound shame. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms.

In search of a new start, John plants himself in southern California and begins to put down roots. There he meets Jenni.

Jenni’s conversion came as an adolescent struggling with the impending divorce of her parents and a budding habit of self-mutilation. Now, between college and her job at Just Juice, Jenni performs sign language with the worship team at church. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John, but he captures her heart. John’s life experience causes her to wonder how they can relate to one another. But she and John are flooded by peace that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and the second chance at love. But sin always has consequences. His days of hard living catch up with him when a very pregnant April appears on his doorstep claiming he is the father.

April was working in an office when she discovered she was pregnant. But severe morning sickness leading to too many missed days cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. No way could she support a child when she couldn’t even support herself. But once at the clinic, she can’t bring herself to go through with the procedure. With no insurance, or support on her decision to keep the baby, April sets out to find John.

John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip, and risk his relationship with Jenni. When he breaks the news to her, he isn’t surprised she needs some space.

Jenni wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news. She fights to hold onto her faith under these unthinkable circumstances, and in one desperate moment is tempted by her own past of self-mutilation. Instead, she looks to Christ to hold her together. She knows the Lord is asking her to forgive and to show His love… even to April.

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with his new fiancé. He’s taken her to doctor appointments and given her a place to stay. He’s a different man than the tortured soul she met in Vegas, always talking about God’s love. April had never spared a thought on God; she’d done her best to rely only on herself. So when her medical evaluations uncover that she has leukemia, she decides it must be divine punishment. She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby. However, when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

Though Jenni’s pain threatens to tear her apart, her heart softens toward April, whom she begins to see through God’s eyes. Both Jenni and John share the message of God’s love and grace with April, and she opens up to the possibility that He does love her. In the face of her declining health, April turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.

April’s uncontrolled fever necessitates an early C-section, and it’s a bittersweet time.. Seeing John cradle baby David, Jenni feels the familiar pang of insecurity as well as happiness for John at becoming a father again. David is small but healthy, and he squirms his way into Jenni’s heart despite the thorny situation.

Grave circumstances mar the celebration- April is dying. In the days before her death she’s found salvation and joy. She is ready to let go. She asks John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mother to him in her absence. After April passes away, Jenni reflects on God’s sovereignty in working all things together for good. She has a new son, the love of a man she adores, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord.

Comments

I think you've brought some very good storytelling to the synopsis. Now the trick is finding what to cut to shorten it a bit. I've done a quick edit below to bring it to 910 words. I think there are a few places you can go with a stronger verb or noun choice and cut out a few adverbs and adjectives to help with the wordcount. I'm sure others will weigh in with their thoughts as well.

While your cuts between characters are overall pretty smooth, I was just a bit bothered that the synopsis leads with John, then morphs into a story about John and April, then into a story about John and Jenni, then into one about April and Jenni, and winds up focused on Jenni. I understand you have three main characters, each of whom undergoes a transformation, but spotlighted this way, it seems to leave John at a loose end. I revised the end a bit to put the focus on John and Jenni as a couple.

Jonathan Douglas had a beautiful young wife, a new baby, and a faith in God he thought couldn’t be shaken. When a desperate phone call sends him racing home, he arrives to finds the air filled with smoke and ash, while neighbors and firemen surround only the his smoldering remains of his house. The deaths of his wife and infant daughter end life as he knows it.

John rebels against God and begins a downward spirals into depression. Haunted by vivid nightmares, John he turns to alcohol for to escape the memories and the pain. He Eventually he makes his way to Las Vegas where he alternately gives himself over to despair, and fights off the pain with drink. The Lord pleads with him to return to God, but he defiantly pushes away the beseeching call of Christ, determined to never let go of what happened.

April considers herself strong and independent [the next two sentences seem to undermine this claim]. As a child, April she lived under a burden of secrets, watcheding her mother jump from one abusive relationship to another while she hid and waited for help that never came. Now an adult, April doesn’t recognize the verbal abuse that’s crept into her own relationship. But when her boyfriend turns physically violent, April remembers her mother's pain and refuses to be a victim.

She takes off. , and melts into the crowds of Vegas, fighting to start over. After weeks/months of living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April lands an apartment and roommate. But when her supervisor tries to rape her and she files a report, she's promptly fired. rent money slips through her fingers when she accuses her supervisor of attempted rape and is promptly fired. With the job market is dry and she is out of time to make the no money for the rent, Her desperation to keep that new roof over her head causes her to rethink an the unsavory offer for her “services” she’d recently received at a nightclub. [The abrupt seque here is confusing. Is it John who propositioned her? The "meanwhile" in the next sentence makes me think no.] Not entirely sure she'll follow through, she heads for a crowded bar.

John meanwhile has decideds to end his life and is having a last toast to his memories when . He meets April shows up in the hotel bar while he is basking in his memories one last time. She reminds him so much of his deceased wife that he throws himself willingly into the paid fantasy. He wakes up the next morning to a shattered illusion and profound shame. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms.

In search of a new start, John plants himself in moves to southern California and begins to put down roots. There where he soon meets Jenni.

Jenni’s conversion came as an adolescent struggling with the impending divorce of her parents and a budding habit of self-mutilation. Now, in between job and college and her job at Just Juice, Jenni performs sign language with the worship team at church. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John, and his life experiences are alien to her; still but he captures her heart and she knows from the peace she feels  . John’s life experience causes her to wonder how they can relate to one another. But she and John are flooded by peace that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and the second chance at love. But sin always has consequences. His days of hard living catch up with him when a very pregnant April appears on his doorstep claiming he is the father.

After her night with John, April was had found working in an office. when she discovered she was pregnant. But severe morning sickness leading to too many missed days cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. No way could she support a child when she couldn’t even support herself. Abortion seemed her only option. But once at the clinic, she couldn't can’t bring herself to go through with it the procedure. With no insurance, or other support on her decision to keep the baby, April sets out to find John.

John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip, and risk his relationship with Jenni. When he breaks the news to her, he isn’t surprised she needs some space.

Jenni wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news. She fights to hold onto her faith under these unthinkable circumstances, and in one desperate moment is tempted by her own past of self-mutilation. Instead, she looks to Christ, to hold her together. She knowings the Lord is asking wants her to forgive and to show His love… even to April.

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with his new fiancé. After all, he’s taken her to doctor appointments and given her a place to stay. He’s a different man than the tortured soul she met in Vegas, always talking about God’s love. April had never spared a thought on God; she’d done her best to rely only on herself. So when her medical evaluations uncover that she has leukemia, she decides it must be divine punishment. She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby, However, and when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

Though pained beyond bearing, Jenni’s pain threatens to tear her apart, her heart softens toward April, whom she begins to see April through God’s eyes, and her heart softens. Both With Jenni and John sharinge the message of God’s love and grace, with April, and she opens up to the possibility that He does care love her. In the face of her declining health, April turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.

When April’s baby is born early via uncontrolled fever necessitates an early C-section, and it’s a bittersweet time. Seeing John cradle baby David, Jenni feels the familiar pang of insecurity seeing John cradle April's baby; but she's also as well as happyiness for him John at becoming a father again. David is Small but healthy, baby David and he squirms his way into Jenni’s heart despite the thorny situation.

Grave circumstances mar the celebration- April, though, is dying. Having In the days before her death she’s found salvation and joy, she is ready to let go. She asks only that John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mother to him in her absence.

John and Jenni accept the [onus] April places on them, understanding that it is by  
After April passes away, Jenni reflects on God’s sovereignty in working all things together for good. She has With a new son to love, the love of a man she adores, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord, they look forward to a marriage blessed through love.

26 comments:

LSimon said...

First congrats and good luck :)!

I decided to just concentrate on the areas that I felt I could tighten up so this isn't the whole synopsis, taken fromt the edits tha the splendid Ms. Phoenix already did.

Haunted by vivid nightmares and deep depression, John turns to alcohol and away from God to escape the memories and the pain. He makes his way to Las Vegas where he alternately gives himself over to despair, and drinks himself into oblivion. Defiantly he pushes away the call of Christ, determined to never let go of what happened

(I would actually cut this whole next section.Important to the plot is that she gets there, not why or how. Plus it ends up going backwards in the story line- Just MHO)
**After her night with John, April was had found working in an office. when she discovered she was pregnant. But severe morning sickness leading to too many missed days cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. No way could she support a child when she couldn’t even support herself. Abortion seemed her only option. But once at the clinic, she couldn't can’t bring herself to go through with it the procedure. With no insurance, or other support on her decision to keep the baby, April sets out to find John.**

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with his new fiancé. He’s a different man than the tortured soul she met in Vegas, always talking about God’s love. April had never spared a thought on God; she’d done her best to rely only on herself. So when her medical evaluations uncover that she has leukemia, she decides it must be divine punishment. She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby, However, and when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

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

Hi Michelle,
I tried my hand at a re-write. have to send in 2 parts. Bibi

Jonathan Douglas had it all a beautiful young wife, a new baby, and faith in God. A desperate phone call sends him racing home, he finds his home burned to the ground, ashes. The deaths of his wife and daughter ends life as he knows it.

John turns against God. He spirals down into terrible depression and suffers from vivid nightmares. Alcohol helps him escape. In Las Vegas John gives up. The Lord waits for John but John can't let go of his pain.

A violent confrontration sends April out of a relationship and into the Los Vegas night life, which for her is living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April saves her wages and tips and is able to rent a tiny studio. Her supervisor tries to rape her and when she files a report, she's fired. She has no money for the rent. Desperate, she rethinks an offer she’d received to work at a hotel bar. April heads for the hotel. The money is good if she doesn't mind supplying special services for customers.

John is long beyond reason from heavy drinking when April shows up in the bar. She reminds him so much of his wife that he gladly pays to have her in his bed for a few hours. He wakes up alone, in profound shame. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting for him. His tears wash his shame away and he sees his loss in a different light. He wants a better life.

In search of a new start, John moves to southern California where he meets Jenni.

Jenni’s conversion came when he was an adolescent struggling with the divorce of her parents. She discovered self-mutilation. Now, in between job and college, Jenni helps out at her church. She knows sign language and uses it to support the hearing impaired members. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John. His life is so sad and he touches her heart. Then he captures it and she believes that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and a second chance at love. Sin has consequences however. His days of hard living catch up with him when a very pregnant April appears on his doorstep claiming he is the father of the baby she's carrying.

April left the bar after her first night and only night. She found work in an office. Severe morning sickness led to many missed days and that cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. But at the clinic, she couldn't go through with it. April needed to find John. It's his baby.

John can see April is in trouble and needs help when she bangs on his door. He knows caused her trouble. He takes her in, offering a safe place and a room of her own.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle,
I tried my hand at a re-write. have to send in 2 parts. Bibi

Jonathan Douglas had it all a beautiful young wife, a new baby, and faith in God. A desperate phone call sends him racing home, he finds his home burned to the ground, ashes. The deaths of his wife and daughter ends life as he knows it.

John turns against God. He spirals down into terrible depression and suffers from vivid nightmares. Alcohol helps him escape. In Las Vegas John gives up. The Lord waits for John but John can't let go of his pain.

A violent confrontration sends April out of a relationship and into the Los Vegas night life, which for her is living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April saves her wages and tips and is able to rent a tiny studio. Her supervisor tries to rape her and when she files a report, she's fired. She has no money for the rent. Desperate, she rethinks an offer she’d received to work at a hotel bar. April heads for the hotel. The money is good if she doesn't mind supplying special services for customers.

John is long beyond reason from heavy drinking when April shows up in the bar. She reminds him so much of his wife that he gladly pays to have her in his bed for a few hours. He wakes up alone, in profound shame. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting for him. His tears wash his shame away and he sees his loss in a different light. He wants a better life.

In search of a new start, John moves to southern California where he meets Jenni.

Jenni’s conversion came when he was an adolescent struggling with the divorce of her parents. She discovered self-mutilation. Now, in between job and college, Jenni helps out at her church. She knows sign language and uses it to support the hearing impaired members. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John. His life is so sad and he touches her heart. Then he captures it and she believes that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and a second chance at love. Sin has consequences however. His days of hard living catch up with him when a very pregnant April appears on his doorstep claiming he is the father of the baby she's carrying.

April left the bar after her first night and only night. She found work in an office. Severe morning sickness led to many missed days and that cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. But at the clinic, she couldn't go through with it. April needed to find John. It's his baby.

John can see April is in trouble and needs help when she bangs on his door. He knows caused her trouble. He takes her in, offering a safe place and a room of her own.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Sorry, copy / paste issues.

Well structured and paced and all that good stuff I said before.

723 word version.

Jonathan Douglas had a beautiful young wife, a baby daughter, and a strong faith in God. A desperate phone call sends him racing home to find firemen surrounding the smoldering ruins of his house. His faith dies with his family. He rebels against God and turns to alcohol for escape. In Las Vegas, he alternately gives himself over to despair and fights off the pain with drink. He defiantly pushes away the beseeching call of Christ, determined to never let go of what happened.

As a child, April often hid and waited for help that never came, while her mother jumped from one abusive relationship to another. April doesn’t recognize verbal abuse, but when her boyfriend turns physically violent, she refuses to be a victim. She melts into the crowds of Vegas. At first, she lives out of her car, but finally lands an apartment and roommate. When she is fired after accusing her supervisor of attempted rape, she rethinks the unsavory offer for her “services” she’d recently received at a nightclub.

The night John decides to end his life, he meets April in the hotel bar. She reminds him of his deceased wife and he throws himself into the paid fantasy. In the morning light, the illusion is shattered. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms. In search of a new start, John plants himself in southern California where he meets Jenni.

Jenni’s conversion came as an adolescent struggling with the impending divorce of her parents and a budding habit of self-mutilation. Now, between college and her job at Just Juice, Jenni performs sign language with the worship team at church. She isn’t looking for romance when she meets John, but he captures her heart. Given his life experience, she wonders how they can relate. But they are flooded by peace that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and this second chance at love. His days of hard living catch up with him though when a very pregnant April appears on his doorstep claiming he’s the father. Sin has consequences.

Severe morning sickness had cost April her office job. Abortion seemed her only option, but once at the clinic, she couldn’t bring herself to go through with it. With no insurance or financial support, she set out to find John. John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip, and risk his relationship with Jenni.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Jenni wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news. She fights to hold onto her faith. In one desperate moment, she’s tempted by her own past of self-mutilation. Instead, she looks to Christ to hold her together. She knows the Lord is asking her to forgive and to show His love… even to April.

John’s a different man than the tortured soul April met in Vegas. She feels guilty for damaging his relationship with his new fiancé. April had never spared a thought for God. She’d done her best to rely on herself. When her medical evaluations uncover that she has leukemia, she decides it’s what she deserves. She agonizes over the risk to the baby. When Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

Jenni’s heart softens toward April, whom she begins to see through God’s eyes. Both Jenni and John share the message of God’s love and grace, and April opens to the possibility that He does love her. In the face of her declining health, April turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.

April’s declining health necessitates an early C-section. Seeing John cradle baby David, Jenni feels both the familiar pang of insecurity, and happiness for John. David is small but healthy. He squirms his way into Jenni’s heart. Grave circumstances mar the celebration. But April has found salvation and joy, and is ready to let go. She asks John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mother to him.

After April passes away, Jenni and John reflect on God’s sovereignty. They have a new son, the love of each other, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Oops. 2 "declining health"s in my version and it's a little clunky. But hopefully this can help you pare down what you have.

Awesome job.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 John cannot lie to Jenni. He must tell her about April and risk their relationship. When he tells her of the night with a woman he paid for because he was drunk and she looked like his wife she's deeply hurt and troubled. She thought they were supposed to be together and she's not so sure now. John gives her the space she asks for and backs out of her life.

Jenni wrestles with her emotions. She fights to hold onto her faith and is terrified she'll go back to hurting herself. She looks to Christ, knowing forgiveness is the way to express His love and save her from the torment of self-mutilating.

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with Jenni. He’s taken her to doctor appointments and given her a place to stay. He’s a different man than the one she met in Vegas. He talked about God’s love a lot. April never thought about God much; she relied on herself until her pregnancy forced her to find John. So when tests uncover leukemia, April agonizes over the risk to the baby. There is a vengeful God she believes and He's punishing her. She's terrified, for her and her baby.

Pained and hurting Jenni begins to see April through God’s eyes, and she changes. With Jenni and John sharing the wonder of God’s grace, April starts her spiritual journey. In declining health, April turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.

When April’s baby is born early, it is a bittersweet time. Jenni feels pangs of insecurity seeing John cradle April's baby but she's also happy for him. Small but healthy, baby David squirms his way into Jenni’s heart.

April found salvation and experiened the joy of her little son. She is ready to let go. She asks that John raise their son and Jenni be his mother after she's gone.

John and Jenni promise April they will raise this child together in Christ. John and Jenni find deeper understanding that God’s sovereignty weaves all things together. With a new son to love, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord, John and Jenni look forward to a life together blessed by love.

Michelle Massaro said...

Thanks so much everybody for your input! This is fantastic! =)

I'll work on this some more later today for sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your synops. Phoenix. They are so polished and well constructed. I hope you'll leave them up for a while. I enjoy pouring over them.
Bibi

Anonymous said...

Hey Michelle, after sipping on DMP's synopses, well I had to take keyboard in hand and try again.
sending in 2 parts. Bst, Bibi

Jonathan Douglas loved life with his wife, baby, and the faith in God they shared.. The fire that killed his family almost killed him when he looked upon the ashes, still smoldering. The two he loved so much were carried out in black bags from the smokng skeletel remains of the house as he looked on in disbelief. He sobbed with the intensity of a mortally wounded animal when he saw the black bags. His life, his wife and daughter were in those bags, charred, dead and gone forever from him.

John lost his faith that night. He's the walking dead. The loss is too great. He wakes up crying from nightmares. He can hear them scream although he was assured they died of inhalationg lon before there skin scorched then burned. The caskets had to be closed to hide their hideous toothy grins and charcoal crumbling bodies. Alcohol helps him survive his days and he thinks Las Vegas will be a fitting place to end his torment. John can't let the pain go, as he clings to his pain he clings to his family. His wife, his daughter, gone, their remains buried side by side in the earth that God created. How could, why did God do this to them, and in turn him? He hated God from that day on.

April dippd her toe into Los Vegas night life, thanks a bad boy boyfrind who used his fists on her. That meant she would serve drinks and bad chile to sweaty men at the diner. April diligently saves her wages and tips and finally was able tomove from her car into a tiny studio. The bar manager saw her home every night after closing. She thought he was a nice guy until pinned her to the tiny bed in her apartment violently forcing her legs apart. She fought like a demon, fighting him off with the help of the lamp on her night table. When she filed the police report, she was of course fired. There is no money for her rent. Desperate, she turns over an offer in her mind she’d received to work at a hotel bar. The money was good if she'd serve customers in their rooms upstairs. That's Vegas.

John is slouched over the bar when April starts her shift. He's well lubbed up, tonight is suicide night. He snaps sober as his wife's double comes to his table. She's April how can she help him? Suicide can wait. He misses his wife so much he pays a fortune for her. After, he weeps in her arms. She holds him like a child until he sleeps and she slips out of the room.
John wakes up alone in the shoddy room shamed. Falling to his knees, he finds the Lord waiting for him. His tears wash his shame away and he sees his loss in a different light. He wants a better life. The only way he can honor his dear wife and daughter is to live the life they can not. God forgave him but he can't forgive himself. In the cold realit of morning and sobriety he slept with a woman because she looked like his dead wife. How could any God love him and forgive that?

John sobers now, returns to work and asks for a transfer to southern California. He meets Jenni in church.

Jenni’s converted when she was an adolescent struggling with her parents divorce. She discovered a cure all in self-mutilation. Now, in er spare time between her job and college, Jenni helps out at her church. She learned sign language one summer at camp and uses it to help the hearing impaired members. She meets John at Church. He is so sad he touches her heart. Then he captures it and she believes that God has brought them together. He tells her his story over coffee one night. He hasn't had a drink in a long time. Tears flow as he spills it out. The gas, the spark, the fire ball, the terrible end of his wife and little girl. Jenni takes his hand and says nothing.

Anonymous said...

part 2 BibiJohn is humbled by God’s grace and a fresh chance at love. Sin has consequences however. His dark days of being driven almost out of his mind with grief catch up. April appears on his doorstep. She is pregnant and looks frail and ill. John knows he is the father of the baby she's carrying. She's not lying to him.

April left the hotel after her first night and only night as a professional. She managed to get work in an office until severe morning sickness led to many missed days and that cost her the job. Abortion was her only option. At the clinic, she couldn't go through with it. April needed to find John. It's his baby too. April hoped he wouldn't turn his back on her. She found him with her abortion money.

John takes her in, offering a safe place, her own room and tries to atone for his stupid, drunken behavior. He takes care of her doctor appointments, keeps the house stocked with plenty of food and chalks her growing fatigue up to her pregnancy. He talks about God a lot to April. April, over her morning sickness, has a bluish cast under eyes and John sees she's eating but not with the ravenous appetite his wife had when she was pregnant. April needs an awful lot of sleep.
John can not lie to Jenni.When he tells her of the night he spent with April, Jenny's deeply hurt and troubled. Jenny thought she and John were supposed to be together and she's not sure of anything now. John gives her the space she needs and backs out of her life. They see each other at church. He is so sorry for hurting her. She didn't deserve the agony he sees he caused in her.

Jenni wrestles with her emotions. She struggles to hold onto her faith but is terrified she'll go back to hurting herself. She looks to Christ, knowing forgiveness is the way to express His love and save her from the torment of self-mutilating. She must forgive John or be eaten up by feelings of worthlessness. She knows where that will take her.

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with Jenni. They were engaged before she turned up. As she gets to know John she sees a different man from the one she met that awful night. He talks about God’s love a lot to her. April never had anything to do with God; she relied on herself until her pregnancy forced her to find John. John presses her doctor for tests. Pregnant women shouldn't be this exhausted, look sick and pick at their food. His wife shone when she was pregnant. She was hungry, happy and an hour nap mid day revitalized her. When tests uncover leukemia, April agonizes over her baby and her death. There is a vengeful God and He's punishing her. She's terrified for her baby who will grow up without her. That is worse than dying. Poor little mite, no mommy to love you. She cried herself to sleep nights. What would happen to her baby? She knew what was going to happen to her.

Pained and hurting Jenni begins to see April through God’s eyes, and she changes. With Jenni and John sharing the wonder of God’s grace, April starts her spiritual journey. Weak and sick April turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never had.

When April’s baby is born early it is a bittersweet time. Jenni experiences hurt and longing when John cradles his baby. Small but healthy, baby David squirms his way into Jenni’s heart as she helps April. April is grateful for the care and concern Jenni gives her and her little boy.

April experiences the joy of her little son. She asks John to take good care of their baby and raise him well. April makes Jenni promise to takes her place as David's mom. With assurances and promises made, April lets go.She was tired and ill for along time.

John and Jenni promised April to raise this child together in Christ. John and Jenni find deeper understanding of God and how He weaves his children together. With a new son to love, the knowledge that April is safely in the arms of God, and a much stronger faith in the Lord, John and Jenni look forward to a life together blessed by love.

Phoenix said...

Hey everyone:

Y'all have done an awesome job in rewriting and paring the word count for Michelle! I know she's happy to be getting such excellent advice.

What would be helpful as well, is if you noted why you've rewritten certain parts. Was it a suggestion for a way to cut words or was there something that wasn't clear to you in the original?

My take is that Michelle did a good job in laying out the story very clearly. I only had an issue with the character stories each feeling to be isolated a bit from one another and the synopsis ending with a focus on a different character than it started with.

Would you agree, or were there other parts that needed further explanation/clarification or that you thought simply didn't need to be in the synopsis at all?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Good point, Phoenix.

I think I had an overall structure in mind - 1 para for John, 1 for April, 1 for John and April, etc.

Keeping that in mind, I pared down each person's section to fit that structure.

Then in the final 2 paragraphs, I have John, Jenni and April. The story comes together and includes all of the POV characters.

As for the info I kept in, I think it had more to do with using one thing to show where they were, one for what happened and one for where they are now. I chose a 'where they were' thing that dovetailed with the other two - trying to get a logical sequence with this is why she did that and why she is where she is now.

Not sure if that helps. (or makes sense)

Sarah Laurenson said...

A few specifics:

Paragraph 1:
Repetitious –
smoke and ash, and smoldering
new baby, and infant daughter

When a desperate phone call sends him racing home, he arrives to find the air filled with smoke and ash, while neighbors and firemen surround his smoldering house.

A desperate phone call sends him racing home to find firemen surrounding the smoldering ruins of his house.

Says the same thing with 10 fewer words. The neighbors play no part in the synopsis.

Cliché –
couldn’t be shaken
end life as he knows it

Paragraph 2:
The Lord pleads with him to return to God

Raises questions on if he can hear The Lord, if The Lord is a different entity than God, if The Lord is a POV character.

He eventually makes his way to Las Vegas

Raises the question of what he’s doing before he gets to Vegas. Remove ‘ly’ words as much as possible.

Cliché –
rebels against God
downward spiral into depression
turns to alcohol for escape

I kept some of these as they are necessary. Rewording them may or may not help.

Michelle Massaro said...

Thanks so much you guys! I've been unable to sit at my computer the last couple days due to a homeschooling project, but I can't wait to really dig into these comments and do a revision. Awesome insights and suggestions- you guys ROCK!
=)

Michelle Massaro said...

Hey, remember me? lol. I've gotten my synopsis down to 750!

John Douglas’ faith in God dies with his wife and daughter in a devastating house fire. Haunted by nightmares, he turns to alcohol and spirals into depression. He eventually makes his way from Indiana to Las Vegas, where he alternately gives himself over to despair, and fights off the pain with drink. The voice of the Lord pleads with him, but he defiantly pushes away the call of Christ, determined to never let go of what happened.
Meanwhile, when April’s boyfriend turns violent, she refuses to be a victim. She melts into the crowds of Vegas, fighting to start over. After living out of her car and serving drinks to sweaty, boorish men, April lands an apartment and roommate. But rent money slips through her fingers when she loses her job. She’s out of work and out of time. Desperate to keep that new roof overhead, she rethinks the unsavory offer for her “services” she’d recently received at a nightclub.
John, meanwhile, is ready to end his life. He meets April in the hotel bar while basking in his memories one last time. She reminds him so much of his deceased wife that when she names her price, he throws himself into the paid fantasy. He wakes up the next morning to a shattered illusion and profound shame. Finally repenting, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms.
John moves to California and meets Jenni at a local church, where she performs sign language with the worship team. When she meets John, he captures her heart. His life experience causes her to wonder how they can relate to one another, but they are both flooded by peace that God has brought them together.

John is amazed by God’s grace and the second chance at love. But sin always has consequences. His days of hard living catch up with him when April appears on his doorstep, very pregnant and claiming he’s the father.
April had been working in an office when she discovered she was pregnant. However, severe morning sickness led to too many missed days and cost her the job. Unable to support herself, abortion seemed her only option. But once at the clinic, she couldn’t go through with the procedure. Without insurance or support on her decision to keep the baby, April sets out to find John.
John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip, and risk losing Jenni—who wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news. She fights to hold onto her faith under these unthinkable circumstances, and in one desperate moment is tempted by her own past of self-mutilation. Instead, she looks to Christ to hold her together. She knows the Lord is asking her to forgive and show His love… even to April.
April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with his new fiancé. He’s taken her to doctor appointments and given her a place to stay. He’s a different man than the tortured soul she met in Vegas, always talking about God’s love. She’d never spared a thought on God, doing her best to rely only on herself. So when her medical evaluations uncover she has leukemia, April decides it’s divine punishment. She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby. However, when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

Michelle Massaro said...

Though Jenni’s pain threatens to tear her apart, her heart softens toward April, whom she begins to see through God’s eyes. Both Jenni and John share God’s love and grace with April, and in the face of her declining health, she turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.
April’s uncontrolled fever necessitates an early C-section, and it’s a bittersweet time. Watching John cradle baby David, Jenni feels both the familiar pang of insecurity, as well as happiness for John at becoming a father again. David is small but healthy, and he squirms his way into Jenni’s heart.
Grave circumstances mar the celebration—April is dying. She asks John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mother to him in her absence. After April passes away, John and Jenni reflect on God’s sovereignty in working all things together for good. April is safely in the arms of God, they have a new son, a powerful love, and a much stronger faith in the Lord.

Phoenix said...

I have some ideas for tweaking the first half of the synopsis. The second half is ready to go, IMO.

P1: Delete comma after "despair"

P2:
"Meanwhile, April is having troubles of her own. When her boyfriend turns violent..". Just a little smoother transition and introduction to April.

Delete 'sweaty' and 'and roommate.'

"...the unsavory offer for her "services" she recently received."

P3:
"John comes to a crossroad: Ready to end his life, he meets April ..." (takes out the repetition of "meanwhile")

P4:

Feels a little odd to start out with John then have the focus turned on Jenni. Maybe:

After providing sign interpretation for the latest worship service, Jenni meets John, a new member of the congregation who's just found his way to California. Despite his tragic life experiences so different from hers and her misgivings that they can possibly relate, he captures her heart. The peace that floods them when they're with one another is a sure sign God has brought them together.

Maybe think about moving the paragraph about April to come next and put it in the present tense, which would serve the synopsis better, I think. Having just that one paragraph in past tense is a little jarring.

Then follow April's paragraph with:

John is amazed by God’s grace and the second chance at love. But sin always has consequences. His days of hard living catch up with him when April appears on his doorstep, very pregnant and claiming he’s the father. John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride and endure the gossip, even if it means losing Jenni.

Now, segue into Jenni's POV. That way Jenni can have her own paragraph again.

The rest is great!

Phoenix said...

I hate Blogger.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I only read the beginning of this new one because I lost interest very quickly. I think you've lost the sense of who John is and why we should care about him. It's an easy tweak. Ground us in John, then give us the life changing event. You had that before.

And now I really understand when people say the same thing about my writing. :-)

Michelle Massaro said...

Ok, back to work! I cannot go over 750 for the contest I'm entering, so anything I add must be balanced with removing something else. I'll be back... =)

Michelle Massaro said...

I know this isn't a huge difference, but see if it's fixing the problems you had before...

When a devastating fire consumes his house, John Douglas’ faith in God dies with his wife and infant daughter. Haunted by nightmares, he turns to alcohol and spirals into depression. He eventually makes his way from Indiana to Las Vegas, where he alternately gives himself over to despair and fights off the pain with drink. Though the voice of the Lord pleads with him, he defiantly pushes away the call of Christ, determined to never let go of what’s happened.

Meanwhile, April faces problems of her own. When her boyfriend turns violent, she refuses to be a victim. She melts into the crowds of Vegas, fighting to start over. After living out of her car and serving drinks to boorish men, April lands an apartment. But rent money slips through her fingers when she loses her job. She’s out of work and out of time. Desperate to keep that new roof overhead, she rethinks the recent unsavory offer for her “services”. This could be her answer.

John’s had enough. Ready to end his life, he meets April in the hotel bar while basking in his memories one last time. She reminds him so much of his deceased wife that when she names her price, he throws himself into the paid fantasy. He wakes up the next morning to a shattered illusion and profound shame. Finally repenting, he finds the Lord waiting with open arms.

Jenni, a college student and sign interpreter with her church’s worship team, meets John after he makes his way to California. His life experience causes her to wonder how they can relate to one another, but he captures her heart and they are both flooded by peace that God has brought them together.

April’s working in a respectable office when she discovers she’s pregnant. But morning sickness leads to too many missed days and costs her the job. Unable to support herself, abortion seems her only option. But once at the clinic, she cannot go through with the procedure. Without insurance or support on her decision to keep the baby, April sets out to find John.

John’s amazed by God’s grace and the second chance at love. But sin always has consequences. His days of hard living catch up with him when April appears on his doorstep, very pregnant and claiming he’s the father. John knows that to follow Christ he cannot hide the truth of his past. He must surrender his pride, endure the gossip, and risk losing Jenni.

Michelle Massaro said...

Jenni wrestles with her roiling emotions over the devastating news. She fights to hold onto her faith under these unthinkable circumstances, and in one desperate moment is tempted by her own past of self-mutilation. Instead, she looks to Christ to hold her together. She knows the Lord is asking her to forgive and show His love… even to April.

April feels guilty for damaging John’s relationship with his new fiancé. He’s taken her to doctor appointments and given her a place to stay. He’s a different man than the tortured soul she met in Vegas, always talking about God’s love. She’d never spared a thought on God, doing her best to rely only on herself. So when her medical evaluations uncover she has leukemia, April decides it’s divine punishment. She feels it’s what she deserves, but agonizes over the risk to the baby. However, when Jenni extends the hand of friendship, April realizes she’s not as alone as she thought.

Though Jenni’s pain threatens to tear her apart, her heart softens toward April, whom she begins to see through God’s eyes. Both Jenni and John share God’s love and grace with April, and in the face of her declining health, she turns to Christ for comfort, courage, and the unconditional love she’s never known.

April’s uncontrolled fever necessitates an early C-section, and it’s a bittersweet time. Watching John cradle baby David, Jenni feels both the familiar pang of insecurity, as well as happiness for John at becoming a father again. David is small but healthy, and he squirms his way into Jenni’s heart.

Grave circumstances mar the celebration—April is dying. She asks John to raise their son in the knowledge of God, and Jenni to be a mother to him in her absence. After April passes away, John and Jenni reflect on God’s sovereignty in working all things together for good. April is safely in the arms of God, they have a new son, a powerful love, and a much stronger faith in the Lord.

Phoenix said...

I like this! A happy consequence is also that as the story gets rolling and starts bouncing between characters, paragraphs end with the name of the character featured in the next paragraph. That helps keep everything feel interrelated.

The one last tiny tweak I see is in the paragraph where April is at her job and pregnant. You have two "buts" in that 'graph and one in the sentence before it and one in the sentence after it. Just throw in a "though" and a "however" instead and you're golden. Just in time for your contest!

Michelle Massaro said...

Thank you!! And thanks for catching that problem of the buts, LOL!