Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Synopsis...

Okay friends, I have put together an official synopsis. I have read many blogs, books, and other material to put this together, but after reading so much on the subject, it seems to confuse me more. Am I alone in this? Nonetheless, I am seeking your assistance once again to guide me, more or less, towards editing my work.

Like everyone else I am seeking to put my best foot forward. I know I have a great story, but I need to convey that idea to the agents. And a great query followed by a good synopsis is the only way to do this. Therefore, please provide me with your honest and help suggestions. Your critiques are greatly appreciated. I carefully take all that you guys suggest under consideration. I think you have helped me put together a great query. Now let's see if we can do the same with the synopsis. Here goes:


Orlando Ramos/Spirits of The Unknown/Synopsis

Spirits of The Unknown

            Tilva's family governs three quarters of the planet Suvino. Hilvax, the current leader of the East Lands, has threatened war. The Family Government has come up with a plan to kill Hilvax to prevent a full scale war, but they have been betrayed. A bomb in his father's jet went off killing Aniuval his father along with his entire crew. Shortly after, they found his youngest brother shot to death in a hotel room with his wife Nishta.
            His second brother Sanaido attempts to escape, with his wife and children, in a ship. The murderer hides inside the ship hacking his wife and two children with a sword. Prior to his death, Sanaido sets a course for the nearest livable planet to seek help. This planet is Earth. However, the hidden assassin escapes planet-side.
            The American government has possession of the ship, but is contacted by Tilva, and a dictator called the New Sun from the alien planet. They must make an alliance to capitalize from the scientific knowledge the ship contains. Not knowing who to trust, they realize the wrong choice can begin an interplanetary war involving them.
            Hilvax, who Tilva thought started this war, is announced dead. Tilva must face a brutal civil war which is devastating his planet, brought on by the NS trying to conquer the planet. There is conspiracy around every corner, as his government crumbles.
            Tilva realizes someone from within has betrayed the Family, but he can't figure out who. The torment of losing his family is clouding his judgment. His paranoid behavior is causing everyone to believe he has killed his own family to gain control of the entire planet. Treak, the woman he loves warned them of the possibility of such an attack. The murders happened almost exactly as she described them making Tilva wonder if she has committed treason. Distraught with rage, distrust, and fear for his own life, Tilva struggles to uncover the assassin and stop the New Sun.
            The U.S. betrays Tilva handing him over to the New Sun. When the NS arrives, she finds a hoax to ensnare her. Tilva faces this NS for the first time, but tormented by the deaths in his family, he is unable to take her life, and the ghosts must step in.


Please let me know if it is too long. I'm not sure how many words there should be on a synopsis. Double spaced as it is, it is just a bit over one page at 385 words. And of course, anything else you see that needs changing.

And remember… Always stay in your write mind.


  1. for a synopsis, this is definitely not too long. from what i've learned, the average length for a synopsis is 3-5 pages (some say single spaced, others say double).

    On the writing: to be blunt, you have a lot of passive verbs going on here (i.e. has/is). Declare war on these words. Short, concise sentences when done well have greater impact than long, flowery prose (unless you're writing literary, but thats the exception.)

    the first sentence is great, it interests me. the next sentence, eh, not so much. simply changing, 'has threatened' to 'threatens' transforms the sentence for me.

    as always, my opinion, but i think if you go through this with a critical eye, and rewrite this to match the style with which your book has, you will be great shape.

  2. Orlando, when an agent asks for a synopsis, he/she will usually specify a 1-page synopsis or a 2-page synopsis. (I've had requests for both.) If the agent doesn't specify, send the 2-page version, as it generally contains more details.

    As for this synopsis, be careful of the pronouns, since the referent is not always obvious. ex: "his father's jet" -- I had to read backwards to find Tilva's name (and since it is unusual, I had to assume it was a man). "They must make an alliance" -- do you mean the American government or Tilva and the dictator? "She finds a hoax" -- who is she? New Sun or Treak or are they the same person?

    Just as an aside, I know this isn't easy!! You don't want to repeat the names over and over, because that sounds awful. But you have to make sure that the referent for each pronoun is obvious. Writing a synopsis makes me grind my teeth in frustration! But a little tweaking of the sentences will probably help.

  3. As a synopsis goes I don't think this is too bad but it missing some major things. (Not having read the book I can't be sure)
    As a general rule what you want from a synopsis is your entire story condensed to its key points. Your characters should be introduced. Your plot should be drawn out and visible and you need to have all the key points show. The parts of the story that make the reader refuse to put down your book and just read one more chapter. You seem to have some of that except the ending. You have left the last sentence as a hook. An agent wants a synopsis to see if the story holds up. The first page can be killer if re-written 100 times that is why they ask to see the story in its entirety; but only in 2 pages.
    Synopsis = The devil

  4. This is a great synopsis, I was interested the whole time. I agree with Karla, there were a lot of passive verbs. The wording of the third sentence in the first paragraph confuses me. "A bomb goes off in his father Aniuval's jet killing him along with his entire crew." might sound better. I suggest focusing on tightening everything up and making it clearer. It's a fantastic synopsis though!

  5. I have had a crazy day today taking away my time to respond to your comments. Please, forgive me, and I also want to thank you all for the great suggestions. They all sound right on, and as soon as I'm able I will continue to tighten up this synopsis. Thank you again.

  6. Maybe this will help?


  7. You need to make sure sentences don't run on like - A bomb in his father's jet went off killing Aniuval his father along with his entire crew - you need separation there. . . commas or something. Tell the story - leave out the ending and summarize the whole book in 3-5 pages. If your synopsis is beautifully written, agents will assume the book is too and will be more likely to request pages.

    Saying that, while it's not my genre, I may read it because you made it sound interesting and complex enough to keep me intrigued.

  8. Orlando,

    You are not alone. Almost everyone struggles with the synopsis, and many writers, including professionals, say that it's almost harder to write a two-page synopsis than the novel itself!

    An important thing to remember is that, like the query, the synopsis is a marketing tool, not fiction itself. It's best written as if it were spoken by Mister Dramatic Guy, voiceover artist, but there's no trailer, so he has to tell the whole thing. It might also help to read a million other synopses (you can often find them on the web) and come to a sense of what you like and don't like about them - like any other writing, it helps to be well read in the field.

    I found the story described in this synopsis to be interesting, and clearly action-packed, with lots of emotion.

    Much of that emotion is stolen by the passive language of the synopsis. It's also a little confusing because there are missing commas, so that phrases in the sentence that should be set off are not, making the reader flounder.

    The biggest problem I found with this synopsis is that it's character soup. By that, I mean that I found so many character names to be confusing. The characters themselves are too many - the synopsis should focus on three or four main characters at most. Side ones don't need to be mentioned by name. We should know who the main characters are (I wasn't sure if Tilva or Sanaido was more of a main char) and what problems they face. Then what they do about it and what the consequences are, then finally what the resolution of the problems turns out to be.

    It helps to consider that most novels, like most screenplays, break down into three acts. Act one is establishment, discovery of problem. Act two is attempts to do something, consequences, gaining knowledge and resources, usually failing and/or creating more problems. Act three is finally facing the true challenge, resolving the problem, and winding up. Your synopsis can be written with this in mind.

    The original question you asked on Twitter that caught my eye was whether the synopsis should be in present tense. Read the guidelines for the individual person you're sending it to, of course, but frequently they don't request a specific tense. I think it usually is in present tense, but one thing's for sure: if the synopsis is compelling, beautifully written and clearly shows what happens to the main character, the tense will not be a deal breaker.

    Best of luck! There is also an article or two on my site about writing a synopsis, if you're interested. http://www.kathleendale.com


  9. Thank you both Kim and Kathleen. Your suggestions are great and I'm making notes of them all to make the necessary adjustments. I can't thank you enough for your willingness to help.

  10. I would definately read this book. I was interested through the whole synopsis. I am most interested in the ghosts and would like to know more about that. The comments above are excellent. ~Ranae

  11. I felt a little more detail was needed, and found the last paragraph especially confusing - 'a hoax to ensnare her' and 'the ghosts'? And most agents/publishers will list the length of synopsis they require. I've been asked for anything from a half-page up to five pages.
    Personally I hate writing a synopsis, but I think it's part of a test on your flexibility and writing skills that's as important as having a good book and a striking query letter.