Monday, September 9, 2013

Help please?

I have a synopsis due sometime in the next week or two.  I've only ever written one synopsis before so I'm afraid it sounds a little more like a query.  Or maybe it's just lame. But I'm pretty sure it's one of the two.  Anyway, I'm posting it below and if anyone is willing to give me some feedback I will be forever in your debt and mention you in the acknowledgements if and when I get published. 

I'm well below the max word count so are there places that need more details?  Places that are confusing?  Does it sound like a stupid story? I really don't like the last line but can't figure out how to end it.  I'm not sure if the first paragraph should stay or if I should just start with the second.  How's that for some insecurities?  Hmmm, maybe I should have posted this on the first Wednesday of the month.


Feel free to leave comments or email me if it needs more help that can be summed up in a comment box. Thank you so much!


I don't actually have a title yet but here it goes.



Seventeen year old Raisa has had only one goal in life; stay alive.  Now that the twenty year war over her country has ended, her goal might be achievable.  She also might be able to eat on a regular basis, which is life goal number two.  All in all her prospects for a long and happy life look good. Until the soldiers come for her.  

Annexed by the winner, her small country doesn’t exist anymore.  But the history and bloodline of the people do. And it’s that bloodline the king wants.  To breed an heir of both nations the king chooses Raisa to marry his son, Sergei.  As the future queen Raisa will be fed, clothed and taught.  All she must do is leave her family and home, travel to the capital and marry a stranger.  Something she is willing to do if it will bring peace to her over burdened people and food to their empty tables.
At the palace she finds a new life, one she’s never dreamed existed, pretty clothes, as much food as she can eat, a handsome prince, not to mention butter. She also finds people are judged not by what they do, but by who they were born, and she was born a no one. Her bloodline is her only redeeming quality which doesn’t leave her much of a future once an heir is born.  

But there’s one thing Raisa inadvertently brought from her country home; Rusalka, who is known for mesmerizing men. Demanding their worship she ensnares them in a spell until they drown themselves trying to reach her, and she is after Sergei.  Now, Raisa must figure out how to reclaim her bewitched husband-to-be, in-between learning about her duties as a princess, preparing for her official engagement, and trying to bring together a country that has been too long at war, that is. If she can’t break the spell then Sergei will drown, and with no heir, the country will erupt into civil war.  

Skipping out of her own betrothal ceremony she confronts Rusalka. Raisa breaks the spell over Sergei with a kiss but Rusalka escapes. She doesn’t go far, and she isn’t giving up Sergei  without a fight.  Sergei and Raisa search out Rusalka’s weakness.  As a water elemental she can leave the river, but only if her hair stays wet.  They plan to lure her out of the water and keep her there until she evaporates. Their plans are ruined when word comes of the mysterious happenings up and down the river bank; men, drowning themselves for no reason, women telling tales of husbands that are bewitched.  It can only be Rusalka. She is coming for Sergei, and she is destroying everything in her way.  

Seeing it as an attack by a neighboring kingdom the king prepares for a war the country it too weak to win.  Sergei and Raisa must confront Rusalka quickly or watch their country ruin itself. As the only heir Sergei is never without body guards. Neither is the mother of the future heir, Raisa. But they can’t let anyone else suffer for them.  They sneak out of the palace at night and find Rusalka waiting at the river.  They lure her from the water and distract her from noticing her drying hair. When the sun comes up Rusalka evaporates.  Finally free of her pull Sergei and Raisa are left to bring peace to their country, and find happiness with each other. 



And if anyone actually made it through that here is a link to a hilarious video about a day in the life of a writer.  So. Funny.

 

16 comments:

  1. OK. I'll bite!

    I think you could explain the world the story is set in a little better. Rusalka kind of pops up out of the blue and that is the only hint there is something otherworldly going on. And how did Raisa inadvertently bring Rusalka along? And if there is one Rusalka, are there more? Why is she the only one?

    I would like a little more information on the relationship between Raisa and Sergei. It seems like the forced marriage is not what Raisa would choose but by the end of the synopsis the two are working together and looking forward to finding happiness with each other... at what point do they fall in love?

    I also feel there is a contradiction in that you say she is born a no one, but her bloodline is her only redeeming quality. Doesn't your bloodline relate to how you were born? Why would the king want her bloodline so badly if she is a no one? This confused me.

    Maybe end the synopsis with bringing it full circle back to Raisa's own family... do they flourish and get more food on the table?

    Hope this helps a little...

    I think this sounds like an interesting story and I wish you good luck with whoever requested the synopsis!

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  2. This sounds like a great story. I do agree with what Julie said. I was confused about the bloodline thing and how she can be a nobody with a bloodline. Are her parents royalty or leaders of her non-country?

    I also think you should explain about how Russalka comes with Raisa better and tell us right away what she is. I at first thought she was a servant or friend of Raisa's. Also I got confused as to how she entrapped Sergei and how the betrothal ceremony would be happening if Sergei is being ensnared by Russalka.

    In the second paragraph, you might not need the sentence about her being fed, etc.. They seem like something we would assume would happen. Also you may not need the part about the bodyguards. Just say they're sneaking out. Maybe try to heighten the climax drama.

    Except for the first paragraph that sounded like a query (but I was okay with it), this sounds like a synopsis, not a query. Hope this helps. Good luck with it because it sounds like a great story.

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  3. Hey Sara, it sounds like you've already received some awesome advice. I just thought I'd pass along a link on "How To Write a One-Page Synopsis" by Susan Dennard. I've used her method twice now and have received good feedback from my peers. Good luck with your story - I can't wait to read it!

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    1. I was unable to post the link on your blog...I'll e-mail it to you. ^_^

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  4. Yup, you've already received some great advice. I'd also take out the semi-colons.

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  5. I don't have anything to contribute but thanks for sharing your synopsis and allowing some of us to learn along with you. Sounds like a great story, by the way.

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    1. Thanks Julie. I'm more than happy to let others learn from my mistakes, especially when I get so much great advice at the same time.

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  6. I think the story has potential. I'm a little confused as to why her bloodline is so important if she's really a "nobody." I also don't understand the magical quality of Russalka, and how she comes with Raisa and ensnares Sergie. Do Raisa and Sergie become lovers? If it's an arranged marriage, I'm wondering how that happened. Also, here's a little something to think about: "Raisa" and "Russalka" both begin with the letter "R." I had to read the story twice to make sure I got the characters straight in my head. Perhaps it would be helpful to have a different name for one of the characters that did not begin with the letter, "r." I hope this helps a little. Good luck!

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    1. Sara... I was going to mention the same thing about the "R" names but then didn't. I have been frustrated in a few books when there are main characters with similar names, and especially here where the pronunciations are not familiar in the first place it can be confusing to the reader. That's a big thing to change though if you chose the names for a reason or have a particular attachment to the names.

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    2. I'll have to think about the names. Rusalka is the name of the folk lore/legend that she is based on. To change her name would be to change the name "Ogre" or "Cinderella" That is what she is. Raisa was chosen because it means rose, which plays into the plot. That can be written out but I would have to think carefully about what is best. Something I will do. I've seen that in books too and I don't want to cause confusion.

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  7. Well. I made it to the end. The names thing came to my mind, too, but name changing is game changing so you gotta do (or not) what you gotta do on that one.

    The thing that makes me most interested to read this is knowing the author is 'Penelope Clearwater.' Raisa's story before Russalka is the most compelling bit for me, but then I tend to be a reader who vastly prefers subtle interpersonal dynamics to epic complications, and that's what's enormously vogue these days, so that's purely subjective. Still, as I read on, my interest level was sustained so, overall, you have a pretty clean presentation here. There were a couple of dings ('that is' sorta sticks out a little) but that's super nit-picky--as feedback tends to be. So don't allow yourself to get tied up into knots with inessentials. I'd say, well done with this. Going over it a few more times with the feedback of others and your own editorial eye should certainly suffice.

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    1. I'm very flattered that you remember Penelope Clearwater. Honestly, writing the first part was my favorite too. Maybe I need to think about what the story should really be.

      Thanks for the feedback. I'll go over the dings and the names and try to shine things up a bit. I truly appreciate the time everyone has taken to help me with this.

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  8. Sara, Writing a synopsis is basically a blow by blow chapter summary with beginning, middle and end. What's at stake, how the learning or growing is achieved, and told by the character using one character's view point (which you did). Names are usually left out except for the main character.

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  9. First, thank you for sharing your synopsis with us. We all know how frickin hard they can be to write. You've received some excellent points already. I agree that you should explain a bit more how Raisa inadvertently brought Rusalka along. Also, having both names beginning with R could create some confusion. I just finished beta reading an epic where several characters had names beginning with the same letter and it got me confused and a bit frustrated at times. Just something to think about. As for the bloodline thing, that really didn't bother me. I'm assuming the king is only trying to unify his country by joining the two bloodlines. But what I want to know is why her, why Raisa. Is she magical by chance? Other than that, I'm not sure what else I can add, except that this sounds like a great story! I really like the water element you created in Rusalka and makes me wonder if there is another element out there... Anyway, sounds like a book I'd love to read. Good luck with this!

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  10. I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you yet Sara! I scribbled a lot of notes on the printed version of this, but a lot of them boil down to requests for more specifics - if you can giver her country/people a name, it'll help differentiate it from the prince's country, especially when you start talking about the back and forth wars.
    Also, the very beginning sets it up in a tone that makes it sound as though she won't want the marriage - but then she *is* willing.
    Otherwise, though, I can't tell you how excited I am to read this story!!

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