12.29.2005

#51 Crapometer

GENRE: Magical Realism (magical realism is a device, not a genre. What you have here is fantasy)

TITLE: BROTHERS


"It's about dragons. Those who pursue and those who protect. Those from whom we run and those whom we seek, the ones bequeathed us and those of our own manufacture. Bane or balm, we decide what role each plays."

-- Excerpt from THE DRAGON BROTHERS by PHILIPPE BIJOUTIER, first lieutenant to TRISTIN CONSEILLE, Captain of the Gendarme of MONTMAR.

(WTF?)

In a forest, on winter solstice, Tristin faces down those dragons yet again. Ambushed, unable to maneuver, he listens as members of his patrol are killed. While he searches out their escape he mentally composes the letters of condolence he must send to each family.


At age twenty-three, Tristin is a veteran of six years of service, and five broken marriage engagements. (yea those divorce engagements are so much worse) He's an expert chess player, an accomplished artist and abrasive as hell. Skilled in warfare, unskilled in life, Tristin escapes the daily circus of political pandering and military strategy sessions by illustrating his friend, Philippe's, stories or getting drunk.

BENARD, Tristin's brother and his commander, is a veteran of thirteen years. (floridization alert) He escapes his nightmares by playing hide and seek with his conscience and does what he can to keep Tristin and their young cousin, GUY, a sergeant, in one piece.

hide and seek with his conscience? oh man.

Scions of Montmar's ruling family, top officers in Montmar's defense, the brothers weary of a conflict they feel helpless to control.

Montmar wars with its neighbor BARCELA over the forest and the river which divides them. After years of drought, Barcela faces famine of catastrophic proportions. Desperate for water and the forest's resources, Barcela plans a decisive offensive to wrest back control. Lacking the numbers and expertise to eject Montmar from the forest on its own, Barcela forms a brittle alliance with its neighbor to the north, the Dahkarin empire.

DAHKAR, the realm caught in the middle, needs the river passage to transport its textiles to Montmar's port, but must have the dyes produced by Barcela to manufacture those textiles. A surprise attack by the combined Dahkarin and Barcelan armies kills hundreds on all sides.

Benard petitions the Montmarin council and his father to consider negotiation with Barcela. Two of Tristin's best friends died in the battle. Unwilling to negotiate with their murderers, Tristin opposes Benard, instead suggesting Montmar negotiate with Dahkar, that Montmar
cut Barcela out of the picture entirely. His poignant plea seems reasonable to a council reeling from the loss of so many of their sons.

A dragon, once injured, is unpredictable. Trisin's uncle, Guy's father, travels to Dahkar seeking terms for peace. The King of Dahkar has him killed. Tristin blames himself for his uncle's death. He cringes to see Guy adapt his own hard edge in the wake of his father's death.

wait...these are dragons?

During a maneuver, Tristin climbs a tree to seek a better vantage. He takes an arrow and plummets to earth to land in the middle of a goat herd in a place far removed from the battle. There, a beautiful woman tends to his wounds. A man who seems to know him is belligerent to
him. Tristin ignores the man, but asks the woman to marry him.

yea, nothing like the smell of goat to bring on love.

Tristin wakes in his own world, upset to learn the girl is his own manufacture. His road back to normalcy is torturous. Trapped by the sequelae (the what?) of his injuries and the drugs required to ease his pain, he seeks refuge in his art. Dragons dominate his creations, haunt his dreams and his waking hours. They creep out of their corners to take on form and substance. His friends and family watch Tristin's transformation in dismay, doubting his sanity, uncertain what to do.

Another realm enters the fray. Traditional enemies of Dahkar, CABUL worries Dahkar will gain a stranglehold on the river and the forest. They throw in their lot with Montmar. Heartened, Benard plans another offensive, one meant to sweep the enemy from the forest.

Both sides play dirtier. The body count rises, Tristin's humanity slips away. He reconsiders his stance, goes to his brother and father, begs them to push negotiation with Barcela, to keep the Cabul out of it. In his own turnaround Benard fights him, certain Montmar finally has what it needs to gain victory.

At the northern end of the river, ALBATIA, a peaceful country that does not maintain an army sends an envoy with offers to negotiate a truce, their hope to prevent the war from creeping further up the river. The envoy is headed by Albatia's Steward, ANYON KAMBUJ. Anyon is the man Tristin met in the goat field. The woman Tristin proposed to is Anyon's sister. The Albatians are pragmatists, uncomfortable with the deceit and intrigue typical of more sophisticated realms. Their offers to help are met with suspicion and hostility. Every opportunity for advancement is met by a setback which pushes all sides closer to the brink.

Unknown to all is the truth that Philippe's story of the dragon brothers is real. Players who set this conflict in motion, the dragon brothers use the combatants as pawns for their own amusement. One sets the humans' shortcomings against themselves, the other seeks to use the humans' strengths to their advantage. Their machinations set the stage for disaster, a fire, then a flood which devastates the forest and the four armies.

!!alien alert!! WTF is this?

Though the dragon brothers debate the outcome of their game, the humans lose their stomach for war. Negotiations begin in earnest. An uneasy equilibrium is reached as all parties struggle to gather the pieces. Though crippled by his injuries and grief-stricken over Philippe's death, Tristin decides to make himself a hopeful future and asks the Albatian's permission to make a proper introduction to his sister.

I have no idea what you’re doing here.

A synopsis is not the place for florid writing. Just tell me what the F happens, who’s important and what the pivotal moments are.

You start out quoting a book that’s part of the story to explain a story I haven’t read. That’s the very definition of circular reasoning.

Your prose looks like rococo furniture, no flourish left furled.

Then it turns out to be a story within a story (I think...I’m not quite sure).

You’ve gotten trapped into a common mistake...the synopsis follows the chronology of the book. When you do that here, the reveal comes out of left field and makes me wonder WTF are you doing.

This kind of thing CAN word on the page, but in a synopsis you want to lead with format, not surprise the hell out me with it at the end.

And goats really stink by the way.

13 comments:

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Oh. My. God.

I know this story. It's a wonderful story, and the original synopsis that went with it is NOTHING like this one. The one I read actually made sense - it was around 600 words.

I blame it on the author's nervousness at submitting her work to Miss Snark.

I hope the author gets the synopsis right because the manuscript itself is a very, very entertaining read.

SAND STORM said...

"And goats really stink by the way."

Hmmm I wonder.....nah

http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsindex/29-ds1.htm

M. G. Tarquini said...

And goats really stink by the way.

They do. I know. and that's definitely mentioned. And this is poorly put together. Unlike the mss. So back it goes to be beaten into submission. Thanks, Miss Snark. I"m going to get this thing figured out, if it kills me. I can't do any worse than I did just now. Your an ace. Back to the drawing board with this one!

kathie said...

love your attitude MG...inspiring.

Bernita said...

I always thought dragons got excited by stinking goats...

Anonymous said...

you're = you are
your = personal pronoun

Anonymous said...

Well, I think magical realism is a genre of fiction, but whatever. This isn't even magical realism as a device. Magical realism is the combination of fantastical *elements* in an otherwise very realistic, real-world setting. A mingling of the mundane with the fantastic.

This is otherworldy fantasy.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

What Dana said.

I'm learning so much here.
Thanks, Miss Snark.


**ahem**
But do you mind if I sell Extra Strength Bactine to the wounded?

M. G. Tarquini said...

Magical realism is the combination of fantastical *elements* in an otherwise very realistic, real-world setting. A mingling of the mundane with the fantastic.

This is otherworldy fantasy.


This world is as mundane as the world outside your door, right down to the septic wounds, smell of piss and blood, a sun that rises in the east and sets in the west, a moon that works on a 28 day cycle, complete lack of magical objects, secret runes, forbidden caves and obscure codes that if they could just figure out would be the salvation of everybody and everything.

It's as real as people who say and do all the wrong things at all the wrong times because they are scared or nervous or just plain acting like dorks. It's made up of lots of cultures with their own ways of doing things and other lands exist beyond the borders of this particular history. The laws of physics, geography and gravity exist in this world and except for the fantastical elements of a their religion which is as real or not real as any of us make any of religions today. These guys are hopelessly mundane and mired in a war that gets more complex with every dispatch that crosses their desks. They aren't looking for a guy on a white horse to come riding over the hill to save their day, there's no Dark Evil Overlord who needs vanquishing and no spunky, but honest peasant boy who's going to pull THE sword from THE stone and bring peace to the land.

How poorly I wrote this synopsis bears out that none of this comes across. Thanks to Miss Snark, I shall endeavor to get it right next time.

And thanks for correcting my contraction or lack thereof. Feel free to edit this comment as well. Feel free to leave a name as well.

M. C. Pearson said...

I wouldn't mind reading this one.

Anonymous said...

"This world is as mundane as the world outside your door, right down to the septic wounds, smell of piss and blood, a sun that rises in the east and sets in the west, a moon that works on a 28 day cycle, complete lack of magical objects, secret runes, forbidden caves and obscure codes that if they could just figure out would be the salvation of everybody and everything.

It's as real as people who say and do all the wrong things at all the wrong times because they are scared or nervous or just plain acting like dorks. It's made up of lots of cultures with their own ways of doing things and other lands exist beyond the borders of this particular history. The laws of physics, geography and gravity exist in this world and except for the fantastical elements of a their religion which is as real or not real as any of us make any of religions today. These guys are hopelessly mundane and mired in a war that gets more complex with every dispatch that crosses their desks. They aren't looking for a guy on a white horse to come riding over the hill to save their day, there's no Dark Evil Overlord who needs vanquishing and no spunky, but honest peasant boy who's going to pull THE sword from THE stone and bring peace to the land."

That may be the case, but a) you've certainly got some incredibly outmoded ideas about what comprises the modern fantasy genre and b) what you have here is undeniably a fantasy. The fact that your world is "realistic" does not make it any less of a fantasy. I'd suggest reading some of the authors associated with the existing subgenre of magical realism before deciding that you've written it.

Anonymous said...

"It's as real as people who say and do all the wrong things at all the wrong times because they are scared or nervous or just plain acting like dorks."

I really like this sentence. That is REAL!

Anonymous said...

I hate contradicting Miss Snark, but Magic Realism is most definitely a genre. My favorite genre, in fact. Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, John Crowley, and Haruki Murakami are celebrated practitioners. However, this synopsis does not describe a prospective work of Magic Realism.