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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Synopsis Feedback

    To anyone who has the time to help!

    I'm trying to get my synopsis finalized (Will be working on query afterward), and I was hoping some of you might be able to provide me with some feedback. I have written more than ten novels and intend to publish five of them, but this is my first time preparing to query and actually get my work "out there", so any feedback you can provide would be excellent! Thank you very much in advance.

    Best,
    Matt

    1)

    When their penal colony rebels against its oppressors and invades another country to found a kingdom of the free, the young Gendorn and Bendoraun join the effort. Finding themselves separated after the first battle, Bendoraun and Gendorn lose their way in the snowy wilderness and find refugee in the most unlikely of places: under the roof of two kind villagers whose village has been destroyed by Gendorn and Bendoraun's own army. Their dilemma forces the questions of right and wrong upon the young boys. When they leave the village, they find that they are behind enemy lines and privy to secret information, and realize that they are the only ones who can save their own army from a planned ambush, and for better or worse they return to save the army and their fellow escapees—but Gendorn and Bendoraun will never again be just another two boys in the Army of the Free.

    Once reunited, the two boys soon find themselves again separated after Gendorn suffers a severe injury. The army moves onward to the final battle, but is on a quick clock: They must end the war before the nation of Laen can send aid to the Skaelin—otherwise all is lost. At the end of the story we revisit Meiln, Gendorn's lover, and find that she and the other Gaolnians have been abducted and are being held hostage by Laen—the demand is simple: Gendorn and his countrymen must renounce everything they have won, and surrender to imprisonment once more. When Gendorn and Bendoraun arrive in their old penal colony, they find it deserted, and they themselves remain ignorant of these developments, while the army is left struggling over what to do next. The first book ends with the official establishment of the Kingdom of the Free—but our three main characters find themselves lost and without hope, far from the site of the final victory—and far from each other.

    This 80,000-word low fantasy adventure is the first installment in the three-part series which takes two young boys and forces them to become leaders among men, while exploring every problem they encounter on that journey. This first book is intensely personal and engaging, featuring a host of relatable characters who exist both in cooperation and conflict with one another. The political setting of book one is developed enough to understand fully what is occurring, while at the same time leaving some mysteries which are not ultimately resolved until books two and three.

    This three-part series is, in turn, one series among a set of series which feature characters who, whether they know it or not, are all connected to one another. Gendorn is ignorant of the story of his parents and grandparents, or of the previous wars and revolutions leading to his predicament of being born into a penal colony without a family, but by the end of The Kingdom of the Free series, he knows enough that he is willing to go on an adventure to uncover the secrets that his parents and grandparents died with.

    (That first synopsis explores a little bit of the other books related to this one, whereas this next synopsis does not)

    2)

    To Be Free begins with the story of three children who were born as prisoners in the penal colony of Gaoln. When the Governor of Gaoln joins the rebellion and appoints himself king, the two boys (Gendorn and Bendoraun) join the war of rebellion, while the girl (Meiln), who loves Gendorn, remains behind. The two boys' fascination with the new world of Skaen, the target nation of their invasion, is quickly brought down to reality by the cruelty of war and the short-tempered Captain Luncas. After the first battle, the two boys are knocked unconscious, and when they wake up they find the army has gone.

    Their quest to find the army leaves several of their companions lost in the wilderness, and Gendorn and Bendoraun end up in a village somewhere in the forests of Skaen. Disguising themselves as refugees of that nation, they become sympathetic toward the very people they have killed, as they become a part of the village. When it comes time for them to leave, they begin to struggle with all the questions of this war.

    They find their friend Nolor, who they thought lost in the wilderness, at Fort Gatsesilli, which becomes the focal point of the story. As the Army of Gaoln marches to take Gatsesilli, the enemy army prepares to ambush them, and, being behind enemy lines and in disguise, Gendorn, Bendoraun, and Nolor find that they are the only ones who can alert the army of the ambush and save their own country—but Gendorn and Bendoraun, who lived in the village, still struggle with what is the right thing to do.

    After it all comes crashing down at Gatsesilli, the Army of Gaoln marches to the final battle at Seun Bastion. Along the road, Gendorn is injured in another ambush, and Bendoraun, who befriends the self-appointed King of Gaoln, gets them both a ship so they can sail back to Gaoln to visit Meiln before Gendorn dies. The two-sided twist comes at the very end. Gendorn and Bendoraun arrive at the old penal colony to find it completely deserted, and they have no idea as to where Meiln might be. The story ends with the final victory of Gaoln at Seun Bastion, but leaves our two main male characters lost in the emptiness of the deserted colony, while Meiln finds herself immersed in an entirely different sort of adventure in the city of Laeoiln, where our sequel begins.



  2. #2
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    All of the blather about how this is just the beginning of a series and how that series is just one of a set of series's is just that: blather that doesn't belong here. Your book must stand on its own two feet and come to a satisfying conclusion so that nobody feels cheated if the other planned books never get published. And, many agents won't even touch a book from a new writer it it's presented as part of a series for exactly that reason as well as because publishers feel the same way. If you're serious about getting published, present this book as a stand-alone because it's the only way you're going to have the slightest chance of success.

  3. #3
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    Should I even mention the other books at all, or even mention the fact that it is part of a series?

  4. #4
    Member Lawrence Tabak's Avatar
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    How about "this is a stand alone book with series potential"

    I didn't make this up, I read it about 5 times in a Q the Agent forum at Absolute Writer. Makes sense to me.

    However, your synopses had me lost. My concern is if this writing is indicative of the manuscript, then it might not be ready for submission. (I think premature submission is endemic in these parts, and a cause of needless disappointment for both the pitcher and catcher, so to speak.) Although I do kind of like the part where the two main characters are knocked unconscious -- which I imagine as mutual head butting. I saw this once on The Three Stooges.

  5. #5
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    Matthew,

    First, I agree with Joe. In answer to your question, no, don't mention anything other than the book you're pitching. You can mention your broader plans/hopes if you get an agent interested. Having said that, I don't think it's a "rule" set in concrete, but...

    Let's take a look at part of your synopsis. My comments are in CAPS. Not yelling at you, just makin' 'em easy to see. (Something to keep in mind, there are conventions regarding synopses. Look for an on-line source to spin you up on those conventions. One is, or used to be, the first time you use a name put it in caps. There are other folks here who are smarter than I about synopsis conventions. Mebbe they'll chime in.)

    When their penal colony rebels against its oppressors and invades another country to found a kingdom of the free, the WHEN I FIRST READ THIS, YOUR USE OF "THE" MADE ME THINK GENDORN AND BENDORAUN WERE TWO RACES OF BEINGS. DELETE "THE." I'VE ONLY READ THE FIRST SENTENCE, BUT I WONDER IF THIS IS A SUMMARY INSTEAD OF A SYNOPSIS. A SYN TELLS THE ENTIRE TALE FROM BEGINNING TO END. SO, AS AN EXAMPLE, WHO ARE THE OPPRESSORS? WHY ARE G AND B IN A PENAL COLONY? I'M MAKING A MINOR POINT HERE, BUT JUST TELL THE TALE. SYNOPSES ARE AS DREADED AS A QUERY 'CUZ YOU GOTTA TELL THE TALE IN A VERY ABBREVIATED FASHION. young Gendorn and Bendoraun join the effort. Finding themselves separated after the first battle, Bendoraun and Gendorn lose their way in the snowy wilderness and find refugee BETCHA A NICKEL REFUGEE IS A TYPO. PROOFREADING IS YOUR FRIEND. GIVE HER A NAME. CALL ON HER OFTEN. in the most unlikely of places: under the roof of two kind villagers whose village has been destroyed by Gendorn and Bendoraun's own army. Their dilemma forces the questions of right and wrong upon the young boys. When they leave the village, they find that CONSIDER DELETING "THAT." IT'S ONE OF THE MOST OVERUSED WORDS IN A WRITERS ARSENAL. they are behind enemy lines and privy to secret information, and realize that they are the only ones who can save their own army from a planned ambush, and for better or worse they return to save the army and their fellow escapees—but Gendorn and Bendoraun will never again be just another two boys in the Army of the Free. BETCHA ANOTHER NICKEL YOU CAN'T READ THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE ALOUD WITHOUT STOPPING TO TAKE A BREATH. YOU'VE USED GENDORN AND BENDORAUN THREE TIMES IN A SHORT PARAGRAPH. FIND ANOTHER WAY TO REFER TO THEM AFTER THE FIRST USE. THE "FRIENDS/COUSINS/BROTHERS/LEGENDARY JEWEL THIEVES.

    AW, JEEZ. I JUST SCANNED THE REST OF THE SYNOPSIS. SAW YOUR LAST LINE THAT IT INCLUDES REFERENCES TO OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES. I WON'T COMMENT FURTHER ON THE FIRST SYNOPSIS. TOSS IT. YOUR SYNOPSIS NEEDS TO DEAL WITH THE BOOK YOU'RE PITCHING, NOTHING BEYOND THAT.

    NOW I'LL TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIRST PART OF YOUR SECOND VERSION.

    To Be Free begins with the story of three children who were born as prisoners in the penal colony of Gaoln. When the Governor of Gaoln joins the rebellion and appoints himself king, the two boys (Gendorn and Bendoraun) join the war of rebellion, while the girl (Meiln), who loves Gendorn, remains behind. The two boys' fascination with the new world of Skaen, the target nation of their invasion, is quickly brought down to reality by the cruelty of war and the short-tempered Captain Luncas. After the first battle, the two boys are knocked unconscious, and when they wake up they find the army has gone. LIKE YOUR FIRST VERSION, THIS READS MORE LIKE A SUMMARY THAN A SYNOPSIS. OTHERS MAY DISAGREE. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T OPEN WITH "TO BE FREE BEGINS WITH THE..." JUST TELL THE TALE. YOU REFER TO "THE" REBELLION. THAT SUGGESTS YOUR READER IS ALREADY AWARE A REBELLION IS BREWING. THIS MAY SEEM LIKE AN EENSY POINT. IN SOME WAYS IT IS. BUT WRITING IS ALL ABOUT CHOICE OF WORDS. "QUICKLY BROUGHT DOWN TO REALITY" IS AWKWARD. HOW IS IT THAT THE TWO BOYS ARE KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS "AFTER" THE FIRST BATTLE? ISN'T IT MORE LIKELY THEY GOT THE SHOUT KICKED OUT OF THEM DURING THE BATTLE, NOT AFTER. YOU REFER TO THEM AS "BOYS." THEY COULD BE SIX OR SIXTEEN. GIVE YOUR READER AN IDEA HOW OLD THEY ARE.

    THIS READER THINKS YOU MAY NOT BE READY TO WORK ON YOUR SYSNOPSIS, MUCH LESS A QUERY. I MAY BE WRONG.

    IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO FULL BODY ARMOR AND IF YOU'RE MATURE ENOUGH TO KNOW CRITIQUE ISN'T ALWAYS FUN, CONSIDER POSTING THE FIRST PAGE OR TWO OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT IN THE WRITING CRAFT FORUM. DON'T DO SO, THOUGH, IF YOU DON'T WANT HONEST CRITIQUE.

    CAPS off. Hope this is useful. Feel free to ignore.

    Cur

  6. #6
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    JUST MY OPINION, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE:

    Should I even mention the other books at all, or even mention the fact that it is part of a series?

    No. Not in a Q letter. Pitch one book. After an agent reads your manuscript and shows interest in your work, you can talk about the other stuff if you want to.

    "this is a stand alone book with series potential"

    Says who? Trust me, you don't want to put that in your letter. It's lame. That's the kind of statement you want an agent to tell you, not you telling the agent.

    Series potential. Cracks me up.
    Last edited by leslee; 08-26-2011 at 08:48 PM.

  7. #7
    Debbi Voisey
    Guest
    "this is a stand alone book with series potential"

    This reminds me of the phrase I have often read in a potential employee's CV: "I work well on my own or as part of a team!"

    LOL. Bet hedging, and also a redundant phrase cuz, ya know, of course you are gonna say it to please people.

  8. #8
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    Feedback

    Thanks everyone! There have been a lot of good ideas in this thread-- I've been working on this for the past two months trying to get it just right (haven't been ignoring you, just haven't posted!), and I think I've found a much better piece.

    Thanks again for your help!

    I think I will go ahead and post the first two pages or so of the book in the forums-- I've been working on them a lot, so hopefully you can all tell me why they're still terrible :P
    Matthew Bishop, Writer
    Fiction: Fantasy Adventure/Political Thriller
    Academic: Historical, Political

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