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Re: Novel synopsis - Comments Please

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  • Susan Donahue
    Dear Sam: What I am trying to convey to you is that a synopsis is a TOOL. It has a purpose. That purpose is not the same as the purpose of a blurb on the
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 31, 2004
      Dear Sam:

      What I am trying to convey to you is that a synopsis is a TOOL. It
      has a purpose. That purpose is not the same as the purpose of a
      blurb on the back of a book jacket. Is your synopsis doing the job
      you want it to?

      Put yourself in the place of the editor. Can he or she see the
      connections between the start and finish of the book from what you
      have written in the synopsis? Does the synopsis reveal a series of
      connected links from point A to point Z? Is there a premise? Does
      the conclusion of the book prove or disprove the premise? If your
      synopsis does these things, you have accomplished your goal. If it
      does not, you need to rework it.

      As I see it, your synopsis establishes a link between the first and
      last parts, but it is a huge jump, not a progression of related
      actions and reactions of the characters. In fact, the synopsis does
      not indicate that there is any relationship between Zeke and Alcy
      except in the beginning and the end. Is that the impression you
      want to give the editor? If the story is not about them, then you
      have wasted the editor's time by giving their relationship the two
      most important places in the synopsis. Also, your synopsis makes
      much of his ethnicity. Is the amount of space given to it in the
      synopsis proportionate to its importance in the whole story? Your
      synopsis indicates that your book is a story about an interracial
      couple overcoming prejudice. Most of what I read of your manuscript
      does not deal with that issue. Are you leading the editor astray?

      Suzianne





      --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
      wrote:
      > Suzianne,
      > I think you're saying that you don't see how the beginning of the
      book
      > and the end aren't connected. Is that correct? If so, are you
      basing
      > that opinion on the synopsis or on the book itself?
      >
      > Sam
      >
      >
      > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
      > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
      > > Dear Sam: I did mean Zeke and Alcy. If you start the book with
      the
      > > difficulties Zeke and Alcy experienced with her parents, and you
      end
      > > the book with them getting together, that should be the story.
      > > There ought to be unity between the start and finish, and what
      > > happens between should be steps toward the goal which is
      > > accomplished in the end.
      > >
      > > Whoever suggested that the synopsis submitted to publishers
      > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb found
      on
      > > the back cover of the book just didn't understand the reason the
      > > publisher wants a synnopsis. When the time comes, the publisher
      > > will write your blurb.
      > >
      > > What they did get right about a synopsis is that short is good.
      > > However, you should consider the purpose of a synopsis. The
      editor
      > > generally reads the synopsis to determine if there is a point to
      the
      > > book (premise) and if there is sufficient structure to sustain
      the
      > > story. If the editor cannot find these elements in the
      synopsis, he
      > > or she is saved the frustration of reading your sample chapters
      only
      > > to be dissapointed because the story is not going anywhere.
      Many
      > > writers craft wonderful first chapters, then sink into a
      quagmire of
      > > prose without direction. An agent or editor does not want to
      invest
      > > hours of reading without a promise that there will be a payoff.
      > >
      > > Suzianne
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
      > > wrote:
      > > > Hi Suzianne,
      > > > I'm not sure I follow you when you say "you did not keep them
      > > > together." Do you mean Zeke and Alcy, or do you mean the
      beginning
      > > and
      > > > the end as set out in the synopsis? Also, I was striving to
      keep
      > > this
      > > > short. I had read somewhere that the synopsis submitted to
      > > publishers
      > > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb
      found on
      > > the
      > > > back cover of the book.
      > > >
      > > > Sam
      > > >
      > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
      > > > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
      > > > > Dear Sam...When an agent or editor looks at a synopsis of a
      work
      > > of
      > > > > fiction, it is to determine if there is a plot. They want
      to
      > > see
      > > > > evidence of structure...a begining, an end, slowing rising
      > > conflict
      > > > > and a huge climax in between. A plot is not just a series
      of
      > > > > events. The events of the story must have cause and effect
      > > > > relationships, each leading to the next. Your "end" is the
      > > > > reuniting of the couple, but you did not keep them together,
      > > > > struggling against obsticles and resolving conflicts from
      one
      > > > > chapter to the next.
      > > > >
      > > > > Suzianne
      > > > >
      > > > > P.S. Sometimes, writers do themselves a favor by writing
      the
      > > first
      > > > > three chapters of their novel, then writing the synopsis
      before
      > > > > going on with the story. It helps them to create
      a "blueprint"
      > > so
      > > > > they don't wander off the storyline.
      > > > >
      > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam"
      <appalbookworm@y...>
      > > > > wrote:
      > > > > > This is sort of a writing/marketing question. This is the
      > > synopsis
      > > > > > I've written in my attempts to get High is the Mountain
      > > published.
      > > > > I
      > > > > > would appreciate any comments.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Thanks in advance
      > > > > > Sam
      > > > > >
      > > > > > High is the Mountain
      > > > > > By Sam Adams
      > > > > >
      > > > > > COURAGE. HATRED. FORBIDDEN LOVE.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > ADVENTURE BECKONS. DEATH LIES IN WAIT.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Ezekial Minor is a man without a country. Not white, nor
      > > black,
      > > > > nor
      > > > > > red, he is caught in a limbo of racial hatred. The only
      > > people he
      > > > > can
      > > > > > trust are the other Melungeons on Newman's Ridge, and
      Alcy, the
      > > > > > Hessian maiden who has fallen in love with him.
      > > > > > But Alcy's family does not want her to marry a man whose
      > > heritage
      > > > > is
      > > > > > so uncertain. When her relatives try to kill Zeke, he
      flees
      > > > > through
      > > > > > the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky with his only possessions:
      his
      > > > > father's
      > > > > > antique dueling pistols and a stud horse that he raised
      from a
      > > > > colt.
      > > > > > In the course of his travels, Zeke races his horse on
      Henry
      > > Clay's
      > > > > > farm, works as a bouncer in a brothel, and battles with
      the
      > > river
      > > > > > pirates of Cave-In-Rock. Zeke ends up in old Mexico where
      he
      > > > > wagers
      > > > > > his gold — and his life — with the soldiers of the Alamo
      de
      > > Parras,
      > > > > > and nearly loses both to a Creole gambler whose plans
      don't
      > > include
      > > > > > splitting the pot with Zeke.
      > > > > > Along the way, Zeke learns to read and learns that some
      things
      > > in
      > > > > life
      > > > > > are worth fighting for. He leaves Mexico with soldiers on
      his
      > > back
      > > > > > trail, and rides home to Tennessee to claim Alcy's love.
    • Sam
      Suzianne, I see what you mean. I guess I actually see the story more as Zeke s struggle to become respected as a person and become someone worthy of respect as
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 2, 2004
        Suzianne,
        I see what you mean. I guess I actually see the story more as Zeke's
        struggle to become respected as a person and become someone worthy of
        respect as a man. His longing for Alcy is more of a metaphor for that
        struggle than the actual point of the story. I'll work on the synopsis
        to try to convey that.

        Thanks for the help,
        Sam

        --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
        <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
        > Dear Sam:
        >
        > What I am trying to convey to you is that a synopsis is a TOOL. It
        > has a purpose. That purpose is not the same as the purpose of a
        > blurb on the back of a book jacket. Is your synopsis doing the job
        > you want it to?
        >
        > Put yourself in the place of the editor. Can he or she see the
        > connections between the start and finish of the book from what you
        > have written in the synopsis? Does the synopsis reveal a series of
        > connected links from point A to point Z? Is there a premise? Does
        > the conclusion of the book prove or disprove the premise? If your
        > synopsis does these things, you have accomplished your goal. If it
        > does not, you need to rework it.
        >
        > As I see it, your synopsis establishes a link between the first and
        > last parts, but it is a huge jump, not a progression of related
        > actions and reactions of the characters. In fact, the synopsis does
        > not indicate that there is any relationship between Zeke and Alcy
        > except in the beginning and the end. Is that the impression you
        > want to give the editor? If the story is not about them, then you
        > have wasted the editor's time by giving their relationship the two
        > most important places in the synopsis. Also, your synopsis makes
        > much of his ethnicity. Is the amount of space given to it in the
        > synopsis proportionate to its importance in the whole story? Your
        > synopsis indicates that your book is a story about an interracial
        > couple overcoming prejudice. Most of what I read of your manuscript
        > does not deal with that issue. Are you leading the editor astray?
        >
        > Suzianne
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
        > wrote:
        > > Suzianne,
        > > I think you're saying that you don't see how the beginning of the
        > book
        > > and the end aren't connected. Is that correct? If so, are you
        > basing
        > > that opinion on the synopsis or on the book itself?
        > >
        > > Sam
        > >
        > >
        > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
        > > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
        > > > Dear Sam: I did mean Zeke and Alcy. If you start the book with
        > the
        > > > difficulties Zeke and Alcy experienced with her parents, and you
        > end
        > > > the book with them getting together, that should be the story.
        > > > There ought to be unity between the start and finish, and what
        > > > happens between should be steps toward the goal which is
        > > > accomplished in the end.
        > > >
        > > > Whoever suggested that the synopsis submitted to publishers
        > > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb found
        > on
        > > > the back cover of the book just didn't understand the reason the
        > > > publisher wants a synnopsis. When the time comes, the publisher
        > > > will write your blurb.
        > > >
        > > > What they did get right about a synopsis is that short is good.
        > > > However, you should consider the purpose of a synopsis. The
        > editor
        > > > generally reads the synopsis to determine if there is a point to
        > the
        > > > book (premise) and if there is sufficient structure to sustain
        > the
        > > > story. If the editor cannot find these elements in the
        > synopsis, he
        > > > or she is saved the frustration of reading your sample chapters
        > only
        > > > to be dissapointed because the story is not going anywhere.
        > Many
        > > > writers craft wonderful first chapters, then sink into a
        > quagmire of
        > > > prose without direction. An agent or editor does not want to
        > invest
        > > > hours of reading without a promise that there will be a payoff.
        > > >
        > > > Suzianne
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
        > > > wrote:
        > > > > Hi Suzianne,
        > > > > I'm not sure I follow you when you say "you did not keep them
        > > > > together." Do you mean Zeke and Alcy, or do you mean the
        > beginning
        > > > and
        > > > > the end as set out in the synopsis? Also, I was striving to
        > keep
        > > > this
        > > > > short. I had read somewhere that the synopsis submitted to
        > > > publishers
        > > > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb
        > found on
        > > > the
        > > > > back cover of the book.
        > > > >
        > > > > Sam
        > > > >
        > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
        > > > > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
        > > > > > Dear Sam...When an agent or editor looks at a synopsis of a
        > work
        > > > of
        > > > > > fiction, it is to determine if there is a plot. They want
        > to
        > > > see
        > > > > > evidence of structure...a begining, an end, slowing rising
        > > > conflict
        > > > > > and a huge climax in between. A plot is not just a series
        > of
        > > > > > events. The events of the story must have cause and effect
        > > > > > relationships, each leading to the next. Your "end" is the
        > > > > > reuniting of the couple, but you did not keep them together,
        > > > > > struggling against obsticles and resolving conflicts from
        > one
        > > > > > chapter to the next.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Suzianne
        > > > > >
        > > > > > P.S. Sometimes, writers do themselves a favor by writing
        > the
        > > > first
        > > > > > three chapters of their novel, then writing the synopsis
        > before
        > > > > > going on with the story. It helps them to create
        > a "blueprint"
        > > > so
        > > > > > they don't wander off the storyline.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam"
        > <appalbookworm@y...>
        > > > > > wrote:
        > > > > > > This is sort of a writing/marketing question. This is the
        > > > synopsis
        > > > > > > I've written in my attempts to get High is the Mountain
        > > > published.
        > > > > > I
        > > > > > > would appreciate any comments.
        > > > > > >
        > > > > > > Thanks in advance
        > > > > > > Sam
        > > > > > >
        > > > > > > High is the Mountain
        > > > > > > By Sam Adams
        > > > > > >
        > > > > > > COURAGE. HATRED. FORBIDDEN LOVE.
        > > > > > >
        > > > > > > ADVENTURE BECKONS. DEATH LIES IN WAIT.
        > > > > > >
        > > > > > > Ezekial Minor is a man without a country. Not white, nor
        > > > black,
        > > > > > nor
        > > > > > > red, he is caught in a limbo of racial hatred. The only
        > > > people he
        > > > > > can
        > > > > > > trust are the other Melungeons on Newman's Ridge, and
        > Alcy, the
        > > > > > > Hessian maiden who has fallen in love with him.
        > > > > > > But Alcy's family does not want her to marry a man whose
        > > > heritage
        > > > > > is
        > > > > > > so uncertain. When her relatives try to kill Zeke, he
        > flees
        > > > > > through
        > > > > > > the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky with his only possessions:
        > his
        > > > > > father's
        > > > > > > antique dueling pistols and a stud horse that he raised
        > from a
        > > > > > colt.
        > > > > > > In the course of his travels, Zeke races his horse on
        > Henry
        > > > Clay's
        > > > > > > farm, works as a bouncer in a brothel, and battles with
        > the
        > > > river
        > > > > > > pirates of Cave-In-Rock. Zeke ends up in old Mexico where
        > he
        > > > > > wagers
        > > > > > > his gold — and his life — with the soldiers of the Alamo
        > de
        > > > Parras,
        > > > > > > and nearly loses both to a Creole gambler whose plans
        > don't
        > > > include
        > > > > > > splitting the pot with Zeke.
        > > > > > > Along the way, Zeke learns to read and learns that some
        > things
        > > > in
        > > > > > life
        > > > > > > are worth fighting for. He leaves Mexico with soldiers on
        > his
        > > > back
        > > > > > > trail, and rides home to Tennessee to claim Alcy's love.
      • Susan Donahue
        Dear Sam....You did it! This synopsis tells the story and will help sell the manuscript. Well done. Suzianne ... Zeke s ... of ... that ... synopsis ... It
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 2, 2004
          Dear Sam....You did it! This synopsis tells the story and will help
          sell the manuscript. Well done.

          Suzianne


          --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
          wrote:
          > Suzianne,
          > I see what you mean. I guess I actually see the story more as
          Zeke's
          > struggle to become respected as a person and become someone worthy
          of
          > respect as a man. His longing for Alcy is more of a metaphor for
          that
          > struggle than the actual point of the story. I'll work on the
          synopsis
          > to try to convey that.
          >
          > Thanks for the help,
          > Sam
          >
          > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
          > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
          > > Dear Sam:
          > >
          > > What I am trying to convey to you is that a synopsis is a TOOL.
          It
          > > has a purpose. That purpose is not the same as the purpose of a
          > > blurb on the back of a book jacket. Is your synopsis doing the
          job
          > > you want it to?
          > >
          > > Put yourself in the place of the editor. Can he or she see the
          > > connections between the start and finish of the book from what
          you
          > > have written in the synopsis? Does the synopsis reveal a series
          of
          > > connected links from point A to point Z? Is there a premise?
          Does
          > > the conclusion of the book prove or disprove the premise? If
          your
          > > synopsis does these things, you have accomplished your goal. If
          it
          > > does not, you need to rework it.
          > >
          > > As I see it, your synopsis establishes a link between the first
          and
          > > last parts, but it is a huge jump, not a progression of related
          > > actions and reactions of the characters. In fact, the synopsis
          does
          > > not indicate that there is any relationship between Zeke and
          Alcy
          > > except in the beginning and the end. Is that the impression you
          > > want to give the editor? If the story is not about them, then
          you
          > > have wasted the editor's time by giving their relationship the
          two
          > > most important places in the synopsis. Also, your synopsis
          makes
          > > much of his ethnicity. Is the amount of space given to it in
          the
          > > synopsis proportionate to its importance in the whole story?
          Your
          > > synopsis indicates that your book is a story about an
          interracial
          > > couple overcoming prejudice. Most of what I read of your
          manuscript
          > > does not deal with that issue. Are you leading the editor
          astray?
          > >
          > > Suzianne
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam" <appalbookworm@y...>
          > > wrote:
          > > > Suzianne,
          > > > I think you're saying that you don't see how the beginning of
          the
          > > book
          > > > and the end aren't connected. Is that correct? If so, are you
          > > basing
          > > > that opinion on the synopsis or on the book itself?
          > > >
          > > > Sam
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
          > > > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
          > > > > Dear Sam: I did mean Zeke and Alcy. If you start the book
          with
          > > the
          > > > > difficulties Zeke and Alcy experienced with her parents, and
          you
          > > end
          > > > > the book with them getting together, that should be the
          story.
          > > > > There ought to be unity between the start and finish, and
          what
          > > > > happens between should be steps toward the goal which is
          > > > > accomplished in the end.
          > > > >
          > > > > Whoever suggested that the synopsis submitted to publishers
          > > > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb
          found
          > > on
          > > > > the back cover of the book just didn't understand the reason
          the
          > > > > publisher wants a synnopsis. When the time comes, the
          publisher
          > > > > will write your blurb.
          > > > >
          > > > > What they did get right about a synopsis is that short is
          good.
          > > > > However, you should consider the purpose of a synopsis. The
          > > editor
          > > > > generally reads the synopsis to determine if there is a
          point to
          > > the
          > > > > book (premise) and if there is sufficient structure to
          sustain
          > > the
          > > > > story. If the editor cannot find these elements in the
          > > synopsis, he
          > > > > or she is saved the frustration of reading your sample
          chapters
          > > only
          > > > > to be dissapointed because the story is not going anywhere.
          > > Many
          > > > > writers craft wonderful first chapters, then sink into a
          > > quagmire of
          > > > > prose without direction. An agent or editor does not want
          to
          > > invest
          > > > > hours of reading without a promise that there will be a
          payoff.
          > > > >
          > > > > Suzianne
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam"
          <appalbookworm@y...>
          > > > > wrote:
          > > > > > Hi Suzianne,
          > > > > > I'm not sure I follow you when you say "you did not keep
          them
          > > > > > together." Do you mean Zeke and Alcy, or do you mean the
          > > beginning
          > > > > and
          > > > > > the end as set out in the synopsis? Also, I was striving
          to
          > > keep
          > > > > this
          > > > > > short. I had read somewhere that the synopsis submitted to
          > > > > publishers
          > > > > > should be written as though it were the promotional blurb
          > > found on
          > > > > the
          > > > > > back cover of the book.
          > > > > >
          > > > > > Sam
          > > > > >
          > > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Susan Donahue"
          > > > > > <suzianne411@y...> wrote:
          > > > > > > Dear Sam...When an agent or editor looks at a synopsis
          of a
          > > work
          > > > > of
          > > > > > > fiction, it is to determine if there is a plot. They
          want
          > > to
          > > > > see
          > > > > > > evidence of structure...a begining, an end, slowing
          rising
          > > > > conflict
          > > > > > > and a huge climax in between. A plot is not just a
          series
          > > of
          > > > > > > events. The events of the story must have cause and
          effect
          > > > > > > relationships, each leading to the next. Your "end" is
          the
          > > > > > > reuniting of the couple, but you did not keep them
          together,
          > > > > > > struggling against obsticles and resolving conflicts
          from
          > > one
          > > > > > > chapter to the next.
          > > > > > >
          > > > > > > Suzianne
          > > > > > >
          > > > > > > P.S. Sometimes, writers do themselves a favor by
          writing
          > > the
          > > > > first
          > > > > > > three chapters of their novel, then writing the synopsis
          > > before
          > > > > > > going on with the story. It helps them to create
          > > a "blueprint"
          > > > > so
          > > > > > > they don't wander off the storyline.
          > > > > > >
          > > > > > > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Sam"
          > > <appalbookworm@y...>
          > > > > > > wrote:
          > > > > > > > This is sort of a writing/marketing question. This is
          the
          > > > > synopsis
          > > > > > > > I've written in my attempts to get High is the
          Mountain
          > > > > published.
          > > > > > > I
          > > > > > > > would appreciate any comments.
          > > > > > > >
          > > > > > > > Thanks in advance
          > > > > > > > Sam
          > > > > > > >
          > > > > > > > High is the Mountain
          > > > > > > > By Sam Adams
          > > > > > > >
          > > > > > > > COURAGE. HATRED. FORBIDDEN LOVE.
          > > > > > > >
          > > > > > > > ADVENTURE BECKONS. DEATH LIES IN WAIT.
          > > > > > > >
          > > > > > > > Ezekial Minor is a man without a country. Not white,
          nor
          > > > > black,
          > > > > > > nor
          > > > > > > > red, he is caught in a limbo of racial hatred. The
          only
          > > > > people he
          > > > > > > can
          > > > > > > > trust are the other Melungeons on Newman's Ridge, and
          > > Alcy, the
          > > > > > > > Hessian maiden who has fallen in love with him.
          > > > > > > > But Alcy's family does not want her to marry a man
          whose
          > > > > heritage
          > > > > > > is
          > > > > > > > so uncertain. When her relatives try to kill Zeke, he
          > > flees
          > > > > > > through
          > > > > > > > the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky with his only
          possessions:
          > > his
          > > > > > > father's
          > > > > > > > antique dueling pistols and a stud horse that he
          raised
          > > from a
          > > > > > > colt.
          > > > > > > > In the course of his travels, Zeke races his horse on
          > > Henry
          > > > > Clay's
          > > > > > > > farm, works as a bouncer in a brothel, and battles
          with
          > > the
          > > > > river
          > > > > > > > pirates of Cave-In-Rock. Zeke ends up in old Mexico
          where
          > > he
          > > > > > > wagers
          > > > > > > > his gold — and his life — with the soldiers of the
          Alamo
          > > de
          > > > > Parras,
          > > > > > > > and nearly loses both to a Creole gambler whose plans
          > > don't
          > > > > include
          > > > > > > > splitting the pot with Zeke.
          > > > > > > > Along the way, Zeke learns to read and learns that
          some
          > > things
          > > > > in
          > > > > > > life
          > > > > > > > are worth fighting for. He leaves Mexico with
          soldiers on
          > > his
          > > > > back
          > > > > > > > trail, and rides home to Tennessee to claim Alcy's
          love.
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