Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Your Thoughts?

I'm so tired right now, I don't honestly know how bad the synopsis over there >>>> actually is.  So here is tonight's re-work.  If you aren't more tired than I am right now, and feel like reading both ... your feedback is most welcome!

At the age of fifteen, Clovis I is hoisted on his shield and acclaimed king of the sea-dwelling Franks.  It is 481, and Rome still rules in Gaul.  Fighting beside his steward Cholwig, and two cousins, Ragnachar and Pharamond, by the age of twenty, he has deposed Roman rule.

This is only the beginning.

Clovis falls in love with Evochilde, who becomes his concubine.  Dying in childbirth, she leaves behind the sickly prince Theuderic.  He battles—and negotiates—for ever-greater territory, and negotiates, too, the treacherous course of a growing court, full of intrigues … and disappointments.  Ragnachar, his first friend, slowly becomes his greatest burden.

In 493, he takes a wife, the Catholic princess Clotilde.  Clotilde becomes Clovis’ queen and his passion.

She makes a formidable mate, but importunes him constantly to accept her Church and her God.

At last, in battle once again, struck by the power of spiritual fervor, gaining a difficult victory … Clovis converts to Christianity on the field.  Because of this moment of inspiration and political savvy, he prospers beyond even his own ambitious hopes.

And yet, as he rises before God and his ever growing peoples, Clovis cuts down his own kinsmen one by one—including, at last, his former commander, Ragnachar.  He unites all the Frankish kingdoms, and the Gallo-Roman populations from Burgundy to the kingdom of the Visigoths.  Theuderic and Clovis’ three sons with the Queen will inherit as patrimony the territory we know today as the nation of France.

He sets down the code of the famous, infamous, long-lived Salic Law, and is the first Catholic king ever to call a Council of the Church.

At last, his legacy immortalized, Clovis dies at forty-five.  He has ruled thirty years, and set a course beyond even his own comprehension.

Clovis’ demonstrations of authority—and revenge—become legend, a tool of his provocative power and charisma.
He was the founder, the first king, of France.


TCW said...

I'm seriously bad at synopses. I got a lot of help on Absolute Write. Have you put this up there? It's worth sticking stuff in Historical SYW, where crits are often on the cruel side but a lot of posters really know their stuff. I think you can also put synopses in QLH - I can't quite remember all I did with mine.

The advice I got was to keep cutting out the redundancy. So I'd lose lines like: "This is only the beginning." You don't have time for any flim-flam or nice effects.

An agent once told me how many submissions they got (and that they read every one). I was staggered. Basically, you've got about one minute to grab their attention. Pare it down, pare it down, pare it down.

And, while I'm here, thanks for your comment on my blog.

Happy New Year!

DLM said...

My relationships at AW are not good, unfortunately. I do use the site and comment here and there, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone there for a reader. I do appreciate *your* advice!

My pitch is indeed very much pared, but the pitch is the attention-getter and the synopsis is where you lay out all the characters and explain the action. Submission guidelines for the agency to which I submitted last night specified a one-page Syn, and this does at least fit in one page, but I'm not sure either one is much good. We'll see. Cheers!

Jeff S. said...

I like it, but since fiction is outside my area, I have a question: Do fiction synopses typically give so many character names? You could delete some of them without harming the overall summary.

The reason I mention this is that when I pitched my nonfiction book, editors sometimes glazed over before a litany of exotic early-medieval names. We find this stuff cool, but even a fairly open-minded editor could be put off by names like Cholwig, Ragnachar, and Evochilde.

TCW said...

I'd message you, but this is the only contact I can find, so I'm posting here.

My (very limited) experience and the advice that I've been given suggests the difference between pitch and synopsis isn't as great as you might imagine. The pitch has a VERY limited time to persuade the agent to read the synopsis, but then the synopsis has to grab him/her immediately to persuade them that they want to read a sample of your work.

The synopsis goes beyond the pitch in that it has two show that you do have a plot that will carry people write to the novel and that it has a beginning, middle and an end. Beyond that, my understanding is that the synopsis is basically as much of a sales pitch as the pitch itself.

It's not something that I'm good at and, like most writers, I hate the whole business of reducing my work to a few sales oriented paragraphs. But I do seem to have made a sale on the basis of a synopsis and I have taken a lot of advice. This doesn't mean I'm right.

Best of luck

DLM said...

Well now I'm in a bit of a quandary - but, as to the query already sent, the damage is done. From interviews, agency websites, and quite a few live agents I've met at Conferences and even emailed with, my understanding has been that indeed the synopsis is not the sexy piece, but the summary - so it does have to list all major characters (I left out only one commander), and hit the highlights of events.

This particular agent's site/interviews did not address the question specifically, but as my pitch and my query share a lot in common in terms of being more marketing oriented, the synopsis, no, isn't particularly cute. It does feel like I've heard and read enough agents and seen enough submissions guidelines regarding synopses to at least hope what I did sent hasn't gone outrageously *wrong* - get the characters in there, get the action in there, are the basics I know I've seen quite a lot. While some synopses I've written are as short as half a page, this one did specify a one-page length so at least I know I won't lose them on that.

In the end, my writing has to stand for itself, and I am quite confident in that much at least! If my query's good, maybe she'll overlook a dry synopsis and try a page, which is all I'll need ...

Also, thank all the gods and blarney lasses, NOT that many agents actually want a syn. at all. Most specify query and pages, and in that (marketing!) material I do feel pretty good.

And THEN my plans for world domination will begin!

For now, a sigh - and to contemplate supper.