Author Topic: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?  (Read 646 times)

Offline johnnyh2

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My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« on: October 28, 2011, 08:29:13 AM »
Okay ... I couldn’t put it off any longer.  Here’s my one page synopsis. It's a middle grane novel, (for 8-12 year olds). I’ve left out loads of characters and plot twists, but I just couldn’t fit the whole 270 pages onto a single page.  :o Naturally, I’m wondering if it works.  ??? Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I only have space for three more words if I'm to keep to one page.  Many thanks in advance.  Johnny x  :-X



THE TWINKLING GREEN[/b]
SYNOPSIS

When spunky, overweight, twelve year old, Gloria Groans, accidentally blows up the family cow, she’s devastated.  Her father takes the blame and is imprisoned.  A bribe of £100 - his only hope of release.  Gloria vows, whatever it takes, she’ll find the money.  Bewildered and alone, she wishes she could cry.  She’s never cried.  She doesn’t know how.  

Gloria and her best friend, Boris, an obese white rabbit, are sent to live in a crumbling mansion with her twisted aunt, the child-hating, Professor Wicket.  While snooping in her aunt’s laboratory, an alien beetle attacks Boris, infecting him.  He weeps twinkling green tears, which Gloria discovers have the power to reverse the aging process.  With the help of her God-fearing cousin, Sandra, Gloria bottles the tears, hoping to sell them and make £100.  

When aunt Wicket finds Boris, unaware of his magical powers, she wants him exterminated.  Gloria grabs him and flees.  A chaotic chase ensues.  Aunt Wicket skids on a rug, cracks her head open and slips into a coma.  Gloria is all for burying her aunt in the back garden, but Sandra, in floods of tears, refuses to help.  Instead they tie her to the bed for safe keeping.  For three days Gloria tortures her semi-conscious aunt, attempting to learn the combination to the safe downstairs, while Sandra dutifully washes, feeds and changes her nappy. During this daily ritual the girls unwittingly grow fond of the old woman. They’re amazed when she wakes from her coma, brain damaged and confused, but blissfully happy.  

One afternoon, while the girls traipse the village in search of customers for their magic tears, Boris and aunt Wicket are kidnapped.  The culprit, the wheelchair bound, Miss Malady; a crazy, old, wannabe scientist, with no medical training – and no legs.  She’s determined to own Boris and patent his magic tears.  

In her makeshift underground laboratory she prepares to transplant Boris’ brain into Mrs Wickets skull, (believing humans shed more tears than rabbits).  After the transplant she will use the tears to regrow her own legs. The girls discover her plan and storm the laboratory, but their botched rescue mission results in their capture.  Once the girls are shackled and caged, Miss Malady explains how lucky they are to be part of such an extraordinary experiment.  Using the girls for practice purposes, she will saw off their legs and attempt to regrow them. If the operation succeeds, only then will she carry out the procedure on her own legs.  The girls escape.  In the battle that follows, they rescue Boris and aunt Wicket.  Miss Malady, bloody and wounded, escapes in her golden helicopter.  She vows revenge.  

Boris, traumatized and injured, can no longer cry.  While Gloria tends his wounds, he winces in pain, accidentally scratching her.  She doesn’t notice the scab on her arm turn green.  All she cares about is finding the money to rescue her father.  The bottles of tears were destroyed in the battle along with her hopes of raising funds.  When her crazy aunt Wicket gives her £2000 in cash, she rushes straight to the prison to pay the guard his bribe.

Gloria visits her father in his cell, on his death bed.  She realises no amount money will save him.  As he breathes his last, she cradles him.  For the first time in her life she cries. Twinkling green tears roll off her cheek onto her father’s lips.  He is revived.  Gloria and her father, reunited, walk hand in hand through the prison gates.  Above, a golden helicopter circles the sky - watching.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 08:37:25 AM by johnnyh2 »
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Offline C.M.

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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2011, 09:06:08 AM »
What is the purpose of your synopsis? Why is it a full page? When I hear the word 'synopsis' I think of a single paragraph on the back cover that tries to convince me to buy the book. In this kind of a synopsis, I do not want all of the plot twists as knowing them before they happen will spoil the story for me. All I need to help me decide to buy the book are: the main character or characters, a short description of them (age, gender, occupation), the quest or challenge they are undertaking, a very brief (one or two sentences) description of the obstacles they must overcome, including the antagonist (don't give me too much or I will know how it turns out), the genre, and a suggestion of the writing style (ie, humorous, serious, fantastic, rich descriptive prose, etc). Hope this helps.    C.M.

Offline johnnyh2

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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 09:43:57 AM »
Hi there CM.

The synopsis must tell the story, including the main characters, main plot and definitely what happens in the end.  It’s not a teaser.  It's not the jacket blurb.  Often agents request a synopsis along with the first three chapters and a covering letter.

This particular agent asked for the synopsis to be less than three pages.  Most ask for one page.  

It's so the agent knows, among other things, the basic story from beginning to end.  Then they can tell if the story works.

Here‘s the advice literary agent, Nathan Brown gives.  (He's a former top agent with mega-literary agents, Curtis Brown).  

So in the synopsis, you definitely want to capture how the novel begins and the hook and include all of the major climaxes and the big climax at the end. Between those points introduce major characters and their relationships, and make sure you're conveying the core of the conflicts between all of these elements...

He goes on to say,

How long should a synopsis be? Unless the agent specifies otherwise or you have found better synopsis-writing advice elsewhere (the odds of that are pretty good, frankly), I'd shoot for two to three pages, double-spaced. If it's longer or shorter than that I don't think anyone is going to be angry, but that should be enough to do what you need to do.

Hey CM, check out any agent’s web page, they all say much the same.

I just wanted to know if through my synopsis, one sees the story. :)

Cheers,
Johnny
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Offline Matt Walker

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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 12:43:04 PM »
CM, you're confusing a synopsis with a blurb. When an agent says to submit a synopsis, they do want to know the major plot details and twists.

Johnny, I have to say this sounds interesting! I'm quite intrigued by it all. I mostly cut out commas and the odd word. I'm guessing it's a children's/Young adult story - was just wondering about the 'torture' element. I presume it's not particularly graphic. Perhaps you could cut it out of the synopsis; it may put an agent off.

THE TWINKLING GREEN[/b]
SYNOPSIS

When spunky, overweight twelve-year-old Gloria Groans accidentally blows up the family cow, she’s devastated.  Her father takes the blame and is imprisoned, a bribe of £100 his only hope of release.  Gloria vows whatever it takes she’ll to find the money.  Bewildered and alone, she wishes she could cry.  She’s never cried.  She doesn’t know how.  

Gloria and her best friend, Boris, an obese white rabbit, are sent to live in a crumbling mansion with her twisted aunt, the child-hating, Professor Wicket.  While snooping in her aunt’s laboratory, an alien beetle attacks Boris, infecting him.  He weeps twinkling green tears, which Gloria discovers have the power to reverse the aging process.  With the help of her God-fearing cousin, Sandra, Gloria bottles the tears, hoping to sell them and make £100.  

When aunt Wicket finds Boris, unaware of his magical powers, she wants him exterminated.  Gloria grabs him and flees.  A chaotic chase ensues.  Aunt Wicket skids on a rug, cracks her head open and slips into a coma.  Gloria is all for burying her aunt in the back garden, but Sandra, in floods of tears, refuses to help.  Instead they tie her to the bed for safe keeping.  For three days Gloria tortures her semi-conscious aunt, attempting to learn the combination to the safe downstairs, while Sandra dutifully washes, feeds and changes her nappy. During this daily ritual the girls unwittingly grow fond of the old woman. They’re amazed when she wakes from her coma, brain damaged and confused, but blissfully happy.  

One afternoon, while the girls traipse the village in search of customers for their magic tears, Boris and aunt Wicket are kidnapped.  The culprit: the wheelchair bound Miss Malady; a crazy old wannabe scientist with no medical training – and no legs.  She’s determined to own Boris and patent his magic tears.  

In her makeshift underground laboratory she prepares to transplant Boris’s brain into Mrs Wicket's skull, (believing humans shed more tears than rabbits).  After the transplant she will use the tears to regrow her own legs. The girls discover her plan and storm the laboratory, but their botched rescue mission results in their capture.  Once the girls are shackled and caged, Miss Malady explains how lucky they are to be part of such an extraordinary experiment.  Using the girls for practice purposes, she will saw off their legs and attempt to regrow them. If the operation succeeds, only then will she carry out the procedure on her own legs.  The girls escape.  In the battle that follows, they rescue Boris and aunt Wicket.  Miss Malady, bloody and wounded, escapes in her golden helicopter.  She vows revenge.  

Boris, traumatized and injured, can no longer cry.  While Gloria tends his wounds, he winces in pain, accidentally scratching her.  She doesn’t notice the scab on her arm turn green.  All she cares about is finding the money to rescue her father.  The bottles of tears were destroyed in the battle along with her hopes of raising funds.  When her crazy aunt Wicket gives her £2000 in cash, she rushes straight to the prison to pay the guard his bribe.

Gloria visits her father in his cell, on his death bed.  She realises no amount money will save him.  As he breathes his last, she cradles him.  For the first time in her life she cries. Twinkling green tears roll off her cheek onto her father’s lips.  He is revived.  Gloria and her father, reunited, walk hand in hand through the prison gates.  Above, a golden helicopter circles the sky - watching.
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Offline johnnyh2

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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 04:12:48 PM »
Hey, hi Matt, and many thanks. 

Yeah, you’re correct.  It’s for 8-12 year olds.

After your corrections I suddenly (I know you’re not meant to use that word, but I’m half drunk - just popped back from the Kasbar and am straight off out again to get fully drunk, so …) I’ve a new understanding of commas.  You made it obvious.  Really I should pay you a couple of hundred pounds for the insight, but my humble, half-drunken thanks will have to suffice.  Thank you.  I see a difference.  Thank you.

As for the torture scene.  Yes, it is violent, but I feel it’s appropriate.  Gloria, though bombastic, bossy and a little bit ‘backward’, has only two things in her life she’s proud of.  Her hair, and a tatty old charcoal sketch of her and her father.  In chapter four, aunt Wicket takes great pleasure in ripping the sketch to sheds.  She also cuts off Gloria’s hair.

While her aunt lies comatose in bed, Gloria takes great pleasure in cutting off her hair.  She slathers make all over her face.  Nail varnish on her eyelids and the bags underneath.  Covers her face in beauty spots, (with the aid of a black felt tip pen) and fills in her lips with red gloss paint. Thing is, I swear if you read it, you’d agree that aunt Wicket had it coming.  Gloria also straddles her unconscious aunt, grabs both her hands in hers, and (even though the back of the old woman’s head is still bleeding and the pillow cases are covered in blood), she forces her to perform a wild, energetic dance. “Dead  lady dancing,” she shouts.  All the while her cousin Sandra keeps suggesting they call an ambulance or a doctor.  Yes, it’s violent, but I believe it’s not gratuitous.  If I cut if from the synopsis, the agent will still read it in the MS.  That said, I’ll certainly consider it.  Still, I believe in this day and age, kids can take it.

Hey, I posted a question on MWC a while back.  "Is it Boris’s book, or Boris’ book?"   I asked.  The answers said - either.  You say Boris’s.  The moment I saw it I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s the way.”  But I’m very easily influenced by other people’s opinion.  Now I’m not sure.  I’ve written Boris’, throughout.  Hmmm. 

Either way, I’m really grateful.  Thank you so much for taking the time.  I shall use your observations to improve my synopsis. 

Thanks Matt.  :)

Johnny
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Offline Matt Walker

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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 05:28:03 AM »
Ah, when you said 'torture' I pictured Gloria inflicting pain on her Aunt to get what she wanted. That's why I was iffy about it - I don't think it's healthy for a protag in a kid's book to be shown torturing someone. However, what Gloria actually does in my opinion is not 'torture', more like kiddy pranks, and I don't have a problem with that. The thing is, I'm pretty sure that if an agent reads 'torture' they'll immediately think inflicting pain - so I do think you should cut the word 'torture' out of your synosis as it's misleading.

Boris' vs. Boris's - I'm not sure if both are acceptable. The first rule in The Element's of Style is:

1). Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
   Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,
   Charles's friend
   Burns's poems
   the witch's malice

Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus'...
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Re: My one page synopsis. How to improve it?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 06:44:05 AM »
Probably best not to go too public with this if you are looking for a publisher.  They prefer (I am told) not to have any previously published work on the internet. I have just completed a 1.5 page synopsis.  You have to tell it as it is. Make it sound exciting too and give the agent/publisher a good reason to want to read more.  I am working on mine at the moment, there is always room for improvement. No more than two pages is the norm, but you must go with what the agent asks for.  No more and no less! Each one is different.

Lin x