12.27.2005

#22 Crapometer

Fantasy novel synopsis:

A telepathic Elf child has a premonition of danger and unknowingly activates a device that brings four Humans to his world. Not knowing how they arrived, they enlist the aid of the Elves to search for a way home while adjusting to life in the foreign world. Telepathy is rare among the Elves and Elsie (who?) is discovered to have telepathic power of her own and is trained in accordance with Elven customs. Elsie falls in love with another telepath and is soon spending all her free time with him. The child insists Kenny (who?) is skilled with the sword and has him accepted by the swordsbearers, a group dedicated to keeping alive the art of the sword to honor their ancestors. Matt (who?) researches Elven technology to find the key to their transport; the Elves hope he holds the key to rediscovering their own lost knowledge.

Who are these people? When you just start throwing out names with no organizational framework, I can’t keep track of them even within a paragraph. Is Elsie the Elf Child? Who is Kenny? And Matt?

When the child is taken from his bed under cover of darkness, the Humans join the efforts to rescue him. The Trolls behind the kidnapping demand an exchange of land in ransom for the child. The Elven council refuses to make the trade and sends a small squad to rescue the child while the majority of the Troll force is on the battlefield. A Troll hunting party ambushes the rescue mission and Elsie's lover is fatally injured. Amber transitions from errands and deliveries to field medic, collecting injured Elves from the battlefield. Kenny's size and skill make him a target of the Trolls and he is finally captured. The Trolls torture him for information about the Elves' battle plans and the involvement of Humans. Matt joins Elsie and Amber on the team to rescue Kenny and the child. Elsie loses an arm to a Troll warrior as she passes the battlefield but insists on continuing. After freeing the captives, the team finds the leaders of the attack and captures one. Kenny and Elsie are taken to the healers to treat their injuries while the rest wait for the Troll's next move. Having lost their hostages and leaders, the Trolls do not attack again. Within days, the Humans find themselves at their parents' homes on Earth.


Talk about great essay material for What I Did on My Summer Vacation.
This brings out my snarkiness because the way you’ve described things here is just a series of events with no context. What are the stakes?

Back at college with their physical wounds healed, the four continue the friendship started among the Elves. Elsie has a new prosthetic arm courtesy of Elven healers and uses painting for therapy, physical and emotional. Some of her paintings trigger new nightmares when Matt sees them and sleeplessness is added to his depression over his inaction during the battle and his inability to find the way home. Kenny's mother is disappointed that the others hadn't told their families the whole story of their adventure and insists that they do. Elsie hadn't really allowed herself to grieve for her lost lover since her return home, but telling her parents reawakens her despair. The others support her and keep her from being too alone, but nothing but time will help.

no cliche left unmentioned here.

Kenny and Amber share a ride home from school and realize they've fallen in love. Elsie's reluctance to use her telepathy to contact the Elves is reversed when Kenny finds an Elven artifact in a second-hand store near campus. The first attempt ends in a headache and dizziness, but a week later, her Elfen teacher responds with the news that her lover survived his injuries with the aid of a hermit and has been searching for her. Elsie communicates with the Elves weekly as they search for answers to the artifact and her mental powers slowly return to her previous strength. The Elves find an ancient text that identifies the artifact as one used for interdimensional transportation. Elsie aids Kenny with his proposal to Amber while she makes plans to leave Earth to marry her lover. Elsie is alone when the instructions for the artifact arrive. She leaves a note for the others and rejoins her lover.

You may have a rollicking good novel here, but this synopsis doesn’t reflect it. Who are the main characters? The elves or the humans? How did the four humans arrive together if they didn’t know each other? Were they transported from he line at Starbucks? did the coffee make the trip?

A synopsis is more than a recitation of events; you have to let us know who’s important in the story and why. Don’t get trapped by following the chronology of the book. A synopsis is a free standing document, NOT an outline.

1 comment:

jwebb said...

Thank you Miss Snark for the critique and the 'assignment' to boil the plot down to 1000 words or less. No sending this out until I add more character to it!