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#1 Cyath

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 08:04 PM

I'm about to start shipping to agents. Would appreciate if someone could take a look!

 

 
The Journey So Far : A Transcultural Tale of Giant Robots, Abuse, Mental lllness, Spirituality and How Video Games and Anime Saved a Young Man's Life. 
 
Comparison Titles : Dave Eggers "You Shall Know Our Velocity", Alison Bedchell "Are You My Mother?"
 
---
 
The book follows a free-flowing narrative spanning a four book structure. It is not in strict chronological detail, but events proceed in a linear fashion.
 
Book 1 :
 
The author is born. This section details his early life in Singapore and introduces his family members. All seems well in the world as he frolics with friends and is first exposed to the video games and anime that will later shape his life. His family moves to the USA to facilitate his mother's PhD studies. There is some time spent adjusting to a new life and culture, but on the whole it is an enjoyable experience. In Los Angeles, the first cracks in the fabric of his seemingly normal family situation start to show.
 
Book 2 :
 
The author moves back to Singapore and experiences great difficulty in adjusting back to life and society there. The specter of mental illness looms in the background as his parents' divorce tears his family apart. The loss of his best friends and dropping out of school add fuel to the fire, and the author collapses into a severe depression which almost causes him to take his life. All is not lost though, for in his depths of despair the author finds hope in watching the anime that gives him the strength to survive even this desperate anguish - Neon Genesis Evangelion.
 
Attempting to pick up the pieces of his life, the author learns Japanese and begins going to see a therapist. He also meets friends and compatriots who help him in his struggle. As he attempts to be a surrogate father to his beloved younger sister in the wake of his parents' abandonment, he journeys deeper into the virtual realms of anime and video games in order to gain the strength to survive and slowly build understanding and compassion. A search for employment proves largely fruitless given his condition, but still he shoulders on. 
 
Book 3 :
 
The author's family situation continues to deteriorate. The battle against mental illness is often two steps forwards and three steps back, but the passions that brought such joy and succor to his younger self prove more than sufficient to the task of fighting the demons that threaten to destroy his life, sanity and family. A budding romance with three very different girls adds a different texture to the situation. 
 
The author's younger sister, Meimei, continues to be a focal point of his life. The author becomes more involved in the local cosplay scene as well as trying his hand at altogether new pursuits, like singing. New insights come in the form of greater psychological knowledge and the understanding of the transcultural nature of his identity - a young man caught between many worlds. 
 
These experiences and more shine a light on the pathology of his dysfunctional family, and the realization dawns that his troubles may have begun even before he was born. With the guidance of his counselors and the lessons learnt from video games and anime, the author begins to realize with growing compassion that everyone is indeed fighting their own battles.
 
As the years pass, the PhD that has become an obsession for his mother for more than a decade is finally completed. The author's family home is sold, which gives his family some much-needed resources with which to begin the next phase of their lives. 
 
Book 4 :
 
About to embark on either further studies or a new career, the author is once more plunged back into living hell by a recurrence of OCD. A not-so-chance meeting with friends of similar spiritual beliefs helps greatly, and with the assistance of a psychospritual retreat and a short stint in Australia that births new perspectives, he is able to prepare himself for half a year of intense self-reflection and healing that culminates in the writing of this book. In a final act of reconciliation and forgiveness, the author chooses to absolve of all sin all those who have done him wrong, and begins a new journey - to meet everyone he has ever known in his life once more, and then see what happens from then on. And as to that...who knows?
 
 


#2 Springfield

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 02:11 PM

 

I'm about to start shipping to agents. Would appreciate if someone could take a look!

 

 
The Journey So Far : A Transcultural Tale of Giant Robots, Abuse, Mental lllness, Spirituality and How Video Games and Anime Saved a Young Man's Life. 
 
Comparison Titles : Dave Eggers "You Shall Know Our Velocity", Alison Bedchell "Are You My Mother?"
 
---
 
The book follows a free-flowing narrative spanning a four book structure. It is not in strict chronological detail, but events proceed in a linear fashion.
 
Book 1 :
 
The author is born. This section details his early life in Singapore and introduces his family members. All seems well in the world as he frolics with friends and is first exposed to the video games and anime that will later shape his life. His family moves to the USA to facilitate his mother's PhD studies. There is some time spent adjusting to a new life and culture, but on the whole it is an enjoyable experience. In Los Angeles, the first cracks in the fabric of his seemingly normal family situation start to show.
 
Book 2 :
 
The author moves back to Singapore and experiences great difficulty in adjusting back to life and society there. The specter of mental illness looms in the background as his parents' divorce tears his family apart. The loss of his best friends and dropping out of school add fuel to the fire, and the author collapses into a severe depression which almost causes him to take his life. All is not lost though, for in his depths of despair the author finds hope in watching the anime that gives him the strength to survive even this desperate anguish - Neon Genesis Evangelion.
 
Attempting to pick up the pieces of his life, the author learns Japanese and begins going to see a therapist. He also meets friends and compatriots who help him in his struggle. As he attempts to be a surrogate father to his beloved younger sister in the wake of his parents' abandonment, he journeys deeper into the virtual realms of anime and video games in order to gain the strength to survive and slowly build understanding and compassion. A search for employment proves largely fruitless given his condition, but still he shoulders on. 
 
Book 3 :
 
The author's family situation continues to deteriorate. The battle against mental illness is often two steps forwards and three steps back, but the passions that brought such joy and succor to his younger self prove more than sufficient to the task of fighting the demons that threaten to destroy his life, sanity and family. A budding romance with three very different girls adds a different texture to the situation. 
 
The author's younger sister, Meimei, continues to be a focal point of his life. The author becomes more involved in the local cosplay scene as well as trying his hand at altogether new pursuits, like singing. New insights come in the form of greater psychological knowledge and the understanding of the transcultural nature of his identity - a young man caught between many worlds. 
 
These experiences and more shine a light on the pathology of his dysfunctional family, and the realization dawns that his troubles may have begun even before he was born. With the guidance of his counselors and the lessons learnt from video games and anime, the author begins to realize with growing compassion that everyone is indeed fighting their own battles.
 
As the years pass, the PhD that has become an obsession for his mother for more than a decade is finally completed. The author's family home is sold, which gives his family some much-needed resources with which to begin the next phase of their lives. 
 
Book 4 :
 
About to embark on either further studies or a new career, the author is once more plunged back into living hell by a recurrence of OCD. A not-so-chance meeting with friends of similar spiritual beliefs helps greatly, and with the assistance of a psychospritual retreat and a short stint in Australia that births new perspectives, he is able to prepare himself for half a year of intense self-reflection and healing that culminates in the writing of this book. In a final act of reconciliation and forgiveness, the author chooses to absolve of all sin all those who have done him wrong, and begins a new journey - to meet everyone he has ever known in his life once more, and then see what happens from then on. And as to that...who knows?

 

 

A memoir should be queried and presented like a novel. Your synopsis should follow that format. It should detail the basic 'plot' of the book.



#3 Cyath

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 01:55 PM

This is the basic plot of the book. I'm not sure what you mean? 



#4 Springfield

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 06:26 PM

This is the basic plot of the book. I'm not sure what you mean? 

 

What you've got is vague discussion about a direction, not the plot. 

 

You're saying like, 

 

'A girl fights against heavy odds to do what she promised.'

 

vs. 

 

'Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a .... she arrives for training, where she meets... she wins the bow-shooting competition.... in the arena, she faces off against... and must decide whether to...'



#5 smithgirl

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 07:25 PM

You should read other synopses. Write your synopsis like a story. Don't refer to yourself as "the author." Tell the story as if you are the main character in a story you're telling. Be very specific as to the essential elements; you will have to omit a lot to do this. Shoot for 600-700 words.

 

Cyath is born in Singapore in an ordinary family, but when he discovers video games, he finds them anything but ordinary. 



#6 Cyath

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 11:26 PM

I really like your lead-in sentence, so I stole it. Hope you don't mind.

 

I did read other synopses and based mine off them, but they were for fictional works. 

 

Anyway I retooled mine. It's 471 words - do you think I need more? I was under the impression that shorter was better.

 

---

 
The book follows a free-flowing narrative spanning a four book structure. It is not in strict chronological detail, but events proceed in a linear fashion.
 
I am born in Singapore in what seems to be an ordinary family, but when I discover video games, I find them anything but ordinary. What starts out as a childhood love blossoms into 
a deepening fascination as my mother uproots the family to pursue further studies in the United States. There friends are made and horizons broadened, but the first cracks in the fabric
of my home life start to show.
 
Upon returning to my country of birth, my parents divorce tears my life apart. I drop out of school and almost lose my life to a crippling depression, but hope shines anew in the 
unlikest of places - the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Watching that is the turning point of my existence, and I pull myself together enough to learn Japanese and become a 
surrogate father to my younger sister as my parents almost completely abandon us. 
 
I begin to see a therapist regularly, and find the science of psychology to be of great use as other mental illnesses - among them OCD and anxiety - begin to surface. My childhood love of
video games and newfound love of anime become a bulwark against the ever-increasing tides of despair that threaten to engulf me daily. I recover enough to regain some modicum of function
and find friends in realms both virtual and real. Attempts to find meaningful employment are largely thwarted by the severity of my condition. 
 
I try out a variety of things in an attempt to escape the daily dysfunction that is my reality. Singing lessons are a much-needed respite from my pain, and teach valuable life lessons besides. There are forays into other forms of gaming, and our mutual love of anime and games leads my sister and I to enter the cosplay community, where becoming someone else for
a time, no matter how brief, provides a window into a safer space. My therapy takes me deeper into myself, and from there I discover insight and awareness as to the underpinings of 
the illnesses that tore my family apart. Understanding dawns, and with it compassion. 
 
After many years, my mother finishes the PhD that has hung like an albatross around our necks for so long, and that and the sale of our family home looks like it may be the way to a new tomorrow.
 
My hopes are dashed by the recurrence of my most hated of foes - OCD, this time so strong that it threatenes to destroy all sense of reality. Two psychospiritual retreats hosted by my
therapists provide the impetus for a most profound transformation of the self, and I begin writing this book in a final act of forgiveness and reconciliation with my abusers. As things
come to a close, new horizons open and the past is set aside. As for what comes next...who knows? 


#7 Springfield

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 12:58 AM

 

I really like your lead-in sentence, so I stole it. Hope you don't mind.

 

I did read other synopses and based mine off them, but they were for fictional works. Memoirs are queried like novels.

 

Anyway I retooled mine. It's 471 words - do you think I need more? I was under the impression that shorter was better. Not necessarily.

 

---

 
The book follows a free-flowing narrative spanning a four book structure. It is not in strict chronological detail, but events proceed in a linear fashion.
 
I am born in Singapore in what seems to be an ordinary family, but when I discover video games, I find them anything but ordinary. What starts out as a childhood love blossoms into 
a deepening fascination as my mother uproots the family to pursue further studies in the United States. There friends are made and horizons broadened, but the first cracks in the fabric
of my home life start to show. This is all distant and I have no idea how much it covers. Is this 250 words, 1000, 10,000? There's no characterization, no inciting incident, no problem, it's just, again, a vague series of events with no specificity or seeming connections.
 
Upon returning to my country of birth, my parents divorce tears my life apart. I drop out of school and almost lose my life to a crippling depression, but hope shines anew in the 
unlikest of places - the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Watching that is the turning point of my existence, and I pull myself together enough to learn Japanese and become a 
surrogate father to my younger sister as my parents almost completely abandon us. You don't even say when this stuff happens. Same problems as above.
 
I begin to see a therapist regularly, and find the science of psychology to be of great use as other mental illnesses - among them OCD and anxiety - begin to surface. My childhood love of
video games and newfound love of anime become a bulwark against the ever-increasing tides of despair that threaten to engulf me daily. I recover enough to regain some modicum of function
and find friends in realms both virtual and real. Attempts to find meaningful employment are largely thwarted by the severity of my condition. 
 
I try out a variety of things in an attempt to escape the daily dysfunction that is my reality. Singing lessons are a much-needed respite from my pain, and teach valuable life lessons besides. There are forays into other forms of gaming, and our mutual love of anime and games leads my sister and I to enter the cosplay community, where becoming someone else for
a time, no matter how brief, provides a window into a safer space. My therapy takes me deeper into myself, and from there I discover insight and awareness as to the underpinings of 
the illnesses that tore my family apart. Understanding dawns, and with it compassion. 
 
After many years, my mother finishes the PhD that has hung like an albatross around our necks for so long, and that and the sale of our family home looks like it may be the way to a new tomorrow.
 
My hopes are dashed by the recurrence of my most hated of foes - OCD, this time so strong that it threatenes to destroy all sense of reality. Two psychospiritual retreats hosted by my
therapists provide the impetus for a most profound transformation of the self, and I begin writing this book in a final act of forgiveness and reconciliation with my abusers. As things
come to a close, new horizons open and the past is set aside. As for what comes next...who knows? 

 

 

There's no ending? 

 

See above -- it's just.. vague and without any hint of the plot, or the character. The synopsis has no voice whatsoever; a synopsis is normally dry and that's fine but there's usually something to grab onto, and here there's just not. It's all very distant and unemotional. I don't know your essential problem, what actually happens (stuff is so glossed over and everything is treated in the exact same manner), etc. 

 

It also feels, the way this is written, as if it's unfathomably long, because there's no indication as to when things happen, and everything is treated the same, so it seems like it's all described.



#8 Cyath

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 12:40 PM

There is no real ending, my life continues on past the ending in the book :) 

 

Well the book is really long (more than 160,000 words) so in order to compress it I have cut away a great deal. I am to the best of my ability writing what actually happened in the order it happened.

 

Please don't get me wrong, I appreciate you taking the time to read over my post and I don't mean to come off as defensive. It reads alright to me though, and similar to the other synopses I have read on the Net. 



#9 Springfield

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 04:35 PM

There is no real ending, my life continues on past the ending in the book :) 

 

Well the book is really long (more than 160,000 words) so in order to compress it I have cut away a great deal. I am to the best of my ability writing what actually happened in the order it happened.

 

Please don't get me wrong, I appreciate you taking the time to read over my post and I don't mean to come off as defensive. It reads alright to me though, and similar to the other synopses I have read on the Net. 

 

I don't know what to tell you -- that's like twice as long as a memoir should be. You're going to get rejections on length alone, and that the query reads as vague and sort of inspecific is not going to help the wordcount issue at all. Memoirs, like novels, should have an ending. Many are written by living people, but the story arc has an ending. That's a big part of what's missing from your synopsis -- an arc, a plot. Obviously stuff keeps happening, but memoirs are a part of a life, not an entire life birth to death or whenever, that's an autobiography, and even those usually (unless they're about very important figures for whom people feel everything in their lives contributes to the importance of their contribution and generally those are historical so the time is removed and thus mysterious by its nature -- like Chernow's Hamilton, for example) follow a novel-like format, with a plot focusing on an arc of some kind that gives short shrift to many things in order to focus on what's important to the narrative.



#10 MICRONESIA

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 05:27 PM

Alison Bedchell

 

It's Alison Bechdel.

 

This alone would be an instant-reject for many agents.



#11 smithgirl

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 12:18 PM

First of all, you will need to cut your length in half. 160K words is too long even for a novel.

 

A memoir isn't just the story of your life. It generally encompasses some slice of your life as relates to a specific person or thing or event. For instance, your spouse was diagnosed with cancer and died. Your memoir follows this experience from the beginning (diagnosis) through the middle (deals with fear, becomes sick, slow decline) then to death (the end). Maybe the memoir includes your recovery from the event, so continues after the death. How you learn to live again. But the memoir tells a story, with a story arc (beginning, middle, end). Yes, you keep living but the particular story you are telling (illness and death of your spouse) is over.

 

I think what you've written is more of an autobiography, just a description of your life. It will be difficult to get an agent for a autobiography. For an autobiography to be popular, then the details of your life must have wide appeal (you are a rock star, you worked in the mob, etc).  With a memoir, you try to make your life interesting in the sense that it appeals to other people who can relate to your specific experience (death of spouse). The length also suggests that what you've written is more of an autobiography.

 

I would recommend reviewing your life for its most defining moment. Then go back and tell the story of that event. Infuse the story with with real passion, with everything that made it so powerful.  When this new book is finished, then revisit the publishing process.



#12 BadgerFox

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 08:42 AM

 

Well the book is really long (more than 160,000 words)

 

I just want to second that there is no way in hell this length of book will be accepted by an agent. It's probably physically too big to actually be bound into book form. 160,000 is way over the limit for virtually any genre. The biggest word-count (around 110,000) is usually only acceptable in fantasy or classic science-ficion, or very rarely in historical sagas. A good wordcount for a memoir would be about 80,000 - 100,000 . I don't want to come off as mean here, I just want to encourage other authors to learn from my mistakes. I've had a lot of good material rejected in the past few years because I didn't take advice about word-count seriously enough or hoped I could just get away with 115,000+ wordcounts. I think I would have ended up with fewer rejections early on, if I had been honest with myself and solved some basic issues with wordcount (and a few other things). It's a shame to get turned down by an agent when what you've written is actually pretty interesting, just because of a number. :(

 

I also want to say that I think it's brilliant you want to write about overcoming OCD. I've suffered with severe OCD and managed to largely recover from it, and make a far better recovery than anyone thought was possible, and I agree that we need to write and talk about mental health awareness like this A LOT. There are so many people who don't even know what OCD is and can't recognise it even when they or a loved one is showing clear symptoms. It causes so much suffering, going undiagnosed with such a debilitating illness! So I really applaud that you want to write about this topic as part of your story :)

 

Have you considered maybe editing down the focus of the novel so it's much shorter, and modelling it on some of the recent OCD-themed memoir books that have come out? Rose Bretecher's 'Pure' is a brilliant OCD autobiography that just came out a year or two ago, and agents would probably be interested in a book that's comparable to hers. There's also David Adams' 'The Man Who Couldn't Stop', which was his OCD memoir plus some science and historical facts about OCD - again, this was a popular book that sold well, and really helped to educate the public about what OCD is. Two more are also Bryony Gordon's 'Mad Girl' and Lily Bailey's 'Because We Are Bad'. OCD memoirs are big news in publishing at the moment!

 

It's just my opinion of course, I can't tell you what to write. But it's an angle that has recently produced several successful memoirs on mental illness and it might help focus down your themes.

 

And yes, Alison Bechdel is pretty famous - especially amongst literary agents, who tend to be feminist-leaning women with a lot of education, as it's Alison Bechdel that invented the well-known Bechdel-Wallace test for women in media - and misspelling her name would probably get you automatically rejected.


Spare a little feedback, if you have a moment? :)

My AU historical novel query: here. Thank you!


#13 Cyath

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 02:44 PM

Thanks a lot for everyone's input on this. I really appreciate it!

 

I have no excuse for misspelling Alison Bechdel except that in the last year two family members went to hospital, I moved country once and house three times, I wrote 2 more books and got severely ill as well. It's been kind of tough to say the least. Thanks to all for catching it.

 

The length was a concern to me right from the start. I could conceivably cut it down to 120,000 words or so? But most of my pre-readers said that the length was a non-issue because the content was interesting.

 

I took a very long shot in writing it in the way that I did...my initial draft focused only on mental illness and video games, but I felt the focus was too narrow. The title reflects all the areas that the text encompasses. 

 

I am not that familiar with all the companion texts in my field, I am sorry to say. Thank you for bringing them to my attention. It has been a tough time for me the last year. And yes it is indeed more of an autobiography than a memoir. 

 

My query letter did get me a less than half a day's response from an agent, I can't remember which one at the moment though. 



#14 Cyath

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Posted 02 March 2018 - 07:49 PM

Bump? Just out of curiosity. 



#15 Springfield

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Posted 02 March 2018 - 11:37 PM






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