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YA Contemp/Magical Realism THE SYMPTOMS OF DYING


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#1 anathebookworm

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 07:20 PM

Hey! This is a first draft and very rough. It's really mostly what I used as my outline before sitting down to write the actual manuscript. I wanted to know if this makes sense, if I'm heading into the right direction...

 

Yeah, I think it's kinda long, too. If you have suggestions on what to cut, that'd be awesome! <3

 

Also, please tell me if you want me to critique back your own synopsis! :)

 

Seventeen-year-old OLIVIA TAYLOR lives in an empty coffee shop and is forbidden to go out by her aunt. The shop is the only living place she knows, since she’s been locked there since she was two. However, Olivia hears a boy inside her head, telling her about his miserable life and his desire to kill himself. Upon trying to answer him, she discovers he can hear her too.

 

Determined, she tries to convince her aunt to let her go, seek whoever is speaking to her. She gets help from the twins that work at the coffee shop, explaining that she hears a voice inside her head. When she brings the issue with her aunt, the woman tells her she has no brother and starts locking the door of the shop. Olivia spends a few days looking for the keys with the twins, but to no use. When she is close to trying to crack open the windows with sheer force, the twins find the key inside a fake book.

She says goodbye to the twins and exits the shop in the middle of the night. The twins make Olivia promise to look for their mother, with whom they were separated from when they were two-months-old, though.

 

However, when Olivia gets outside, it’s to find a dark place, with no lights and no stars and nothing at all.

 

She spends hours there, regretting her choices and trying to find a way back to the shop. Just when it's unbearable, she hears singing from the boy’s voice again, and the world starts becoming colorful and beautiful.

 

After fainting in her world, she wakes up in another, confused, disoriented and with an IV connected to her arm. In a hospital. She is told she was in a coma, and the doctors promise to get her family there as soon as possible.

 

Soon, another one of her aunts appears, along with a cousin—who is actually JACOB ALLEN, the boy inside her head. Surprisingly, she still hears him humming inside her head.

 

When she asks about her other aunt, she is told that woman is dead for a long time. Olivia doesn't remember anything, but she is also told she has been in a coma since she was two, where her aunt died in a car crash and she got in the hospital. Her father died there, too, but her mother ran away after everything that happened.

 

After she’s released from the hospital, Jacob invites Olivia to go with him graffiti the city along with two friends, and Olivia adores one of them. The other, Jacob tells her, is someone he has feelings for.

 

However, despite what Olivia believes, Jacob is still unhappy and still wishes to end his life. He tries it using his mother’s sleeping pills, but Olivia and her aunt are able to save him. For months, Olivia accompanies Jacob in therapy, trying to make him see that life is worth it. With the help of Jacob’s closest friends, Olivia manages to put him back on his feet.

 

Later, a journalist comes to Olivia, interested in her story. Olivia tells her all about it, and soon it’s in the news. But to her surprise, Olivia learns that Jacob was in the car as well, but survived without a scratch. They assume this why they have a connection, why they can hear each other’s thoughts.

 

Unfortunately, she also learns that the twins who lived with her in the coffee shop are dead, killed in the car crash that got her in a coma. With the help of one of Jacob’s friends, she finds the twins’ mom and tells the woman about her time with her daughters. The woman is frightened, and runs away from her.

 

On the day of her accident, the twins’ mom comes to see her again, though, and the two grieve together. After speaking with the woman, Olivia decides to forgive her aunt for killing the twins.

 

Along with Jacob, Olivia finds a happy life. They start a routine, working at the gym and graffitiing the city. Olivia gets a job in an ice cream parlor. Jacob, on the other hand, starts dating the boy he loves, with the support and approval of his family and friends.



#2 Sreid

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 08:22 AM

Hi ana,

 

I agree with you that this is far too long and unfocused to be an effective one page synopsis, and even for a longer one, I find it a bit too unfocused. I'm far from an expert at this, but as I understand it, this is not the time to show all your significant plot twists, because that will confuse even the best of readers. I appreciate that you capitalized the names when first mentioned, and that you kept them to a bare minimum. That helped to keep it from being overwhelming.

 

It's more important that your synopsis convey a sense of excitement for your story than that it cover all the twists and turns. What you want to do is set the scene, then describe the inciting incident (the thing at the books beginning that sets your main character on the journey that is your story), cover a couple of setbacks, describe the story's climactic moment, and end with showing how the situation resolves itself. I used the following method to build my synopsis http://www.publishin...-page-synopsis/ (the key is to build a synopsis, not chop away at what you have, because all you'll be left with then in a bloody mess).

 

I think you have an interesting story, though I didn't understand at first that there was nothing outside the coffee shop until your fifth and sixth paragraphs. Might I suggest that in your new, more focused synopsis, you also make your setting clearer from the start.

 

All the best with your writing, and please take a look at my synopsis and tell me what you think.



#3 anathebookworm

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:59 PM

Actually, I never aimed for it to be a one-page synopsis. Most of the agents I want to query say that they prefer a synopsis to be two pages, which this one is. Regarding the "nothing outside the coffee shop," this is something that is explained better in the query--where I state in the first line that Olivia is a coma. Since an agent who'll read the synopsis will also have the query, I didn't see the need to repeat myself.

 

I actually had read the article you mentioned in PubCrawl some time ago, back when I was querying my previous manuscript. I appreciate your input either way. :)



#4 Sreid

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 01:35 PM

I didn't read your query before writing my comments on your synopsis :(. Having done so now, I better understand the setting. Notwithstanding, I still found the synopsis less focused, but not critically so. I still got the gist of the story.

 

One thing struck me. Isn't it true that if someone goes into a coma at the age of two, their mental and social development will have been put on hold, meaning they wake up a two-year-old with an older body? How do you tackle that in your story?



#5 Nonicks

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 01:51 AM

Hi!

I just read this because I remember you, and here is what I think:

The beginning was really interesting, but somewhere in the middle, when she discovers what's happened to her and there was no mystery anymore, I lost interest. I think it's because there weren't any questions left for the reader, so what drove me towards the end (the mystery of why she's hearing voices and why she can't get out and who is the boy) was gone. I'd try to change the order of the events so the mystery is solved in the end.






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