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Violet's on the Train - YA Romance (Third Try)


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#1 Arait

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 01:58 AM

So as not to bog down this thread with really long posts, I've deleted the original synopsis (If anyone really wants to read it, there are still people's revisions below). My original questions were all about how to cut things out to make it shorter, but now that it's close to the right size, I think I'm ready for readability (and likeability) advice. Thanks to everyone. The new synopsis is in #10.

Also, I'm getting ready to query an agency that requires a "full synopsis." Since they specify repeatedly that it should be "full," I'm curious what that means. Are they expecting one longer than the average 2 pages? Or is it just a reminder that a synopsis should not leave out important details?

#2 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 11:07 AM

I realize this needs to be fairly significantly trimmed. But when I started hacking away at what seemed least relevant to the plot to me, I realized I was removing all the romantic elements. But I can't call the story a YA Romance and then cut all the romance out of the synopsis. So I'm hoping you can help me figure out what can go without causing confusion. Over on the query thread, there seemed to be a lot of confusion from left out details, so I probably over compensated here. Oh, also the male MC is introduced three different times as three different people, and I can't decide which of the names to capitalize for clarity's sake. Extremely sorry for the excessive length.

Every day VIOLET and her older sister SARAH run to the back fence to watch the train pass by their farm. It's a pattern as consistent as Sarah having a fable with a lightly concealed moral for every situation. Even the violets that grew along the tracks each spring could be explained by one of her stories: a group of troublemaking boys come down to the plains every winter, but in the spring they must flee back to the mountains. They hitch a ride on the train leaving wildflowers behind in their wake.

To Violet, adventurous boys planting her namesake was like a trail leading the way to uninhibited freedom. Realizing she had overstepped a line, Sarah never spoke of that story again, but every word of it was deeply engrained in Violet's soul. (After reading over the fable bit two times I understand it, but the first time was a little confusing.)

The next spring when they go to see the train one afternoon, there's a boy across the tracks. Looking wild and entirely unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is absolutely certain they just met one of the boys from Sarah's story.

Exactly one year later, the same boy appears at the tracks again. Afraid that he'll disappear, Violet rushes across the tracks as soon as the train passes to find that he waited just to invite her to see the night train. Sarah urges her to accept the invitation, knowing this will be Violet's last chance for quite some time.  The family has just decided to send Violet to live with their grandparents in the city where she could be better educated than at their town's one room schoolhouse.

Violet sneaks out to meet the boy, who is waiting for her with a handful of violets. When Violet introduces herself, he mockingly calls himself "Plum." The train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his real name. He shoves her back to her side of the tracks and disappears again.

While living with her grandparents in the city, Violet receives many letters from her family. Her brother writes her about the murder of the local store owner in a house fire. The leading suspect, Mr. Jamison, is widely distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Even if evidence can only prove he was in the vicinity of the crime around the time the blaze began, rumors spread accusing him of every little thing that has recently gone wrong. After someone else confesses and is convicted of the murder, public opinion of Jamison still does not improve; damage to his reputation is already done. (At this point I'm assuming this is not set in our current time.  At the beginning of the query, you should specify what time period this is set in.)

(After reading further down, I realized a large chunk of time has passed.  Here you should write "X amount of years later") One day Violet receives a letter from her mother explaining that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. Violet rushes back to the farm, expected to mend Sarah's heart with her upbeat nature. 

Violet would do anything if it would help to help improve improve Sarah's condition, so she doesn't hesitate to go into town at her request to meet someone named Jonah. That evening Violet discovers that Jonah, Jamison, and Plum are all the same person when he pulls his vanishing act again at the station where she was told she could find him. (To answer your question above, I would put all three names in the synopsis in capitals.) (Also, I'm confused.  Her sister tells her to go and meet a Jonah without explanation, and then he just disappears before they can talk?)

Whereas the average couple of their time would spend their dates at the cinema or ice cream parlor,​ (I don't know if this is necessary, it would cut down on the length to omit it) Violet and Jonah spend an enjoyable evening boulder hopping at the creek that runs through town. Their time together is cut short by an unexpected thunderstorm, but Jonah asks to see her again the next evening, nostalgically by the railroad where they first met.

Violet returns to her disheartened sister with exciting events to retell. Sarah helps her plan her escape for the second time so their parents won't know she is sneaking out to see a boy the whole town dislikes. (Why would Sarah be helping her sneak around with a shifty guy? This needs to be explained better) Jonah has arranged a picnic in the woods with smoked fish and venison jerky. Not necessarily a gourmet, candlelight dinner but romantic in its own way.

At nightfall Violet returns home, but when she sneaks inside, the whole family is awake in the living room. Thomas, a family friend was attacked at the bookstore he manages by a gang of Chinese bootleggers. Only a few hours before the attack, Jonah had been spotted arguing with Thomas.

Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she had has been sneaking around with and the eyewitness account of a long trusted family friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah. She doesn't want to discourage Sarah with bad news, but she needs her sister's advice. Sarah can hardly speak, managing a hoarse whisper, "Only you can uncover the truth of Jonah Jamison."

In the eight years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered exactly who Jonah is and that he isn't nearly as bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own, so she does her best to guide Violet to the answer. 

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah, this time in riddles. She follows his clues along the railroad to a boulder in the forest where he serenades her on harmonica and offers her spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. (Okay, so I'm going to assume this is set in the Prohibition era.  This really needs to be said at the very beginning because I was going "Say whaaa?") That particularly awkward moment feels like the right time to ask Jonah what happened at the bookstore.

Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. Earnestly wanting to believe him, Violet let's (no comma) him get away with the vague answer. A little while later, they climb a hill to watch the night train go by, and Jonah surprises her with a kiss.

Violet's faith is restored until she talks to Thomas, who asserts that Jonah was certainly more involved than he claimed. The contradiction distresses her for days. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the confusion.

Then, Violet catches Jonah sneaking into Sarah's room through the window. She finds out the two know each other, and that Sarah has been hiding a chronic illness from the family for years. Furious about the lies, Violet runs from the room, refusing to listen to either.

When Sarah reveals her intentions to tell Violet the truth, Jonah panics. He rushes into his boss at the local speakeasy and asks to leave the gang. (Okay, so he's in a gang? What gang? The Chinese bootleggers? This needs to be clarified) His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save Thomas (again, this needs to be better clarified.  I'm guessing he was arguing the Thomas earlier to help him). Viewed as a traitor, he is punished severely (how was he punished?) then left to freeze overnight in a spring blizzard. The harsh treatment crushes any hope he ever had of cleaning up his life. (This whole paragraph needs to be reconstructed to explain the events better.  I get it, but I had to fill in big gaps myself and I'm just hoping I guessed correctly.  Rewrite and clarify)

Violet is unaware of events in town, going through daily life on the farm in a distraught haze. When her cousins get drunk and rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with some friends, Jonah gets dragged into a fight trying to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, frantically describing what had happened and that Jonah was shot.

(I think this paragraph could be reconstructed so it doesn't jump around everywhere.  Maybe something like "X amount of days later, when Sarah's cousins get drunk and rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with some friends, Jonah gets dragged into a fight trying to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Sarah has been going about her daily life, distraught and unaware of the events in town.  Her cousin says what happened and that Jonah was shot." Obviously, I just swapped the lines around, so it doesn't sound that great, but you get the idea.)

Instantly Violet's animosity toward Jonah seems petty. Worried for his life, she hurries into town. She finds Jonah at the train station, taken there by the girl (so the coworker? Keep the title of the person the same so it's less confusing.) he had fought to save. She asks Violet to help her sneak him into a boxcar. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side. Along the ride, Jonah seems to be trying to explain the situation but can't muster the strength. He has them jump off the train outside a nearby town, after which they limp their way to the home of a Chinese family in the slums. (Okay, so the gunshot wasn't fatal.  Maybe describe where he was shot, that whole time I was picturing him bleeding out with a giant hole in his belly and dying.  Unless that's exactly what happened, then describe that too.)

The family ushers them in urgently. While Violet understands none of what they say, she watches intently as they treat Jonah using traditional Eastern medicine. Slowly she begins to piece together the dark secret he shares with her sister: opium.

The next morning, word reaches the family harboring them that Jonah was trying to run away from the gang. Even though that was far from his reason for running, Jonah can't deny the rumor is founded in truth. The family hides them as long as possible.

While they are hiding, Violet decides to finally tell Jonah who she thought he was all along, disguising the fable in a series of other stories her sister invented. Jonah responds by telling his life story in a fictionalized tale about the rich family that lives at the end of town. The father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man of ill-repute who offered him a job smuggling.   (The way they explain everything is worded very confusingly) Just as it seems they are finally able to sort through all that they had kept from one another, the mob's hitmen bust into town, dragging people out of houses one by one in search of them.

Jonah and Violet take to the run, across rooftops, in and out of houses, through underground tunnels. Violet is thrust suddenly into the reality that her fairy tale boy lives in. (You need to go back earlier and explain she is attracted to Jonah because he's her fairy tale boy) It's too late for her to back out. Even when her older brother bails them out of a pinch between a hitman and a doberman and peels out of town as fast as his old clunker can go, Violet can't return home. (She has a brother now? How did he find them?) (Also, this is the climax of the story.  It needs to be said in more detail what happens, especially with the hitman and whatnot.)

She and Jonah can be safe, since Sarah arranged haven for them at the distant house of her late fiance's family, but they can't go home.

 

This is a good start, but there were lots of things that needed to either be explained much earlier on, or in more detail.  I think it would really help to drive home the point about Jonah being her fairy tale earlier when they start going out, because I would understand her attraction to him much better.

If you're struggling with adding in all the details in a good order, what I did when I was writing my synopsis and query was write out everything important in bullet points, move the bullet points around so that they were in the best order possible for people to understand, and then construct my sentences around that.  When I did that, I could see more easily what could be omitted or bulked up more.  Don't know if that will help, but it might :)



#3 smithgirl

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 02:46 PM


Every day VIOLET and her older sister SARAH run to the back fence to watch the train pass by their farm. It's a pattern as consistent as Sarah having a fable with a lightly concealed moral for every situation. Even the violets that grew along the tracks each spring could be explained by one of her stories: a group of troublemaking boys come down to the plains every winter, but in the spring they must flee back to the mountains. They hitch a ride on the train leaving wildflowers behind in their wake.

To Violet, adventurous boys planting her namesake was like a trail leading the way to uninhibited freedom. I don't understand what this sentence means. I assume it has some sexual connotation, but I don't understand what. You need to state this clearly. Realizing she had overstepped a line, Sarah never spoke of that story again, but every word of it was deeply engrained in Violet's soul.

The next spring when they go to see the train one afternoon, there's a boy across the tracks. Looking wild and entirely unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is absolutely certain they just met one of the boys from Sarah's story.

Exactly one year later, the same boy appears at the tracks again. Afraid that he'll disappear, Violet rushes across the tracks as soon as the train passes to find that he waited just to invite her to see the night train. Sarah urges her to accept the invitation, knowing this will be Violet's last chance for quite some time. The family has just decided to send Violet to live with their grandparents in the city where she could be better educated than at their town's one room schoolhouse.

Violet sneaks out to meet the boy, who is waiting for her with a handful of violets. When Violet introduces herself, he mockingly calls himself "PLUM." The train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his real name. He shoves her back to her side of the tracks and disappears again.

While living with her grandparents in the city, Violet receives many letters from her family. Her brother writes her about the murder of the local store owner in a house fire. The leading suspect, Mr. JAMISON, is widely distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Even if evidence can only prove he was in the vicinity of the crime around the time the blaze began, rumors spread accusing him of every little thing that has recently gone wrong. After someone else confesses and is convicted of the murder, public opinion of Jamison still does not improve; damage to his reputation is already done.

One day Violet receives a letter from her mother explaining that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. Violet rushes back to the farm, expected to mend Sarah's heart with her upbeat nature.

Violet would do anything if it would help improve Sarah's condition, so she doesn't hesitate to go into town at her request to meet someone named  JONAH. That evening Violet discovers that Jonah, Jamison, and Plum are all the same person when he pulls his vanishing act again at the station where she was told she could find him.

Whereas the average couple of their time would spend their dates at the cinema or ice cream parlor, Violet and Jonah spend an enjoyable evening boulder hopping at the creek that runs through town. Their time together is cut short by an unexpected thunderstorm, but Jonah asks to see her again the next evening, nostalgically by the railroad where they first met.

Violet returns to her disheartened sister with exciting events to retell. Sarah helps her plan her escape for the second time so their parents won't know she is sneaking out to see a boy the whole town dislikes. Jonah has arranged a picnic in the woods with smoked fish and venison jerky. Not necessarily a gourmet, candlelight dinner but romantic in its own way.

At nightfall Violet returns home, but when she sneaks inside, the whole family is awake in the living room. THOMAS, a family friend was attacked at the bookstore he manages by a gang of Chinese bootleggers. Only a few hours before the attack, Jonah had been spotted arguing with Thomas.

Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she had been sneaking around with and the eyewitness account of a long-trusted family friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah. She doesn't want to discourage Sarah with bad news, but she needs her sister's advice. Sarah can hardly speak Why can she barely speak? , managing a hoarse whisper, "Only you can uncover the truth of Jonah Jamison."

In the eight years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered exactly who Jonah is and that he isn't nearly as bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own, so she does her best to guide Violet to the answer.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah, this time in riddles. She follows his clues along the railroad to a boulder in the forest where he serenades her on harmonica and offers her spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. That particularly awkward moment feels like the right time to ask Jonah what happened at the bookstore. 

Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. Earnestly wanting to believe him, Violet let's him get away with the vague answer. A little while later, they climb a hill to watch the night train go by, and Jonah surprises her with a kiss.

Violet's faith is restored until she talks to Thomas, who asserts that Jonah was certainly more involved than he claimed. The contradiction distresses her for days. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the confusion.

Then, Violet catches Jonah sneaking into Sarah's room through the window. She finds out the two know each other, and that Sarah has been hiding a chronic illness from the family for years. Furious about the lies, Violet runs from the room, refusing to listen to either.

When Sarah reveals her intentions to tell Violet the truth, Jonah panics. He rushes into his boss at the local speakeasy and asks to leave the gang. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save Thomas. Viewed as a traitor, he is punished severely then left to freeze overnight in a spring blizzard. The harsh treatment crushes any hope he ever had of cleaning up his life.

Violet is unaware of events in town, going through daily life on the farm in a distraught haze. When her cousins get drunk and rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with some friends, Jonah gets dragged into a fight trying to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, frantically describing what had happened and that Jonah was shot.

Instantly Violet's animosity toward Jonah seems petty. Worried for his life, she hurries into town. She finds Jonah at the train station, taken there by the girl he had fought to save. She asks Violet to help her sneak him into a boxcar. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side. Along the ride, Jonah seems to be trying to explain the situation but can't muster the strength. He has them jump off the train outside a nearby town, after which they limp their way to the home of a Chinese family in the slums.

The family ushers them in urgently. While Violet understands none of what they say, she watches intently as they treat Jonah using traditional Eastern medicine. Slowly she begins to piece together the dark secret he shares with her sister: opium.

The next morning, word reaches the family harboring them that Jonah was trying to run away from the gang. Even though that was far from his reason for running, Jonah can't deny the rumor is founded in truth. The family hides them as long as possible.

While they are hiding, Violet decides to finally tell Jonah who she thought he was all along, disguising the fable in a series of other stories her sister invented. Jonah responds by telling his life story in a fictionalized tale about the rich family that lives at the end of town. The father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man of ill-repute who offered him a job smuggling. Just as it seems they are finally able to sort through all that they had kept from one another, the mob's hitmen bust into town, dragging people out of houses one by one in search of them.

Jonah and Violet take to the run, across rooftops, in and out of houses, through underground tunnels. Violet is thrust suddenly into the reality that her fairy tale boy lives in. It's too late for her to back out. Even when her older brother bails them out of a pinch between a hitman and a doberman and peels out of town as fast as his old clunker can go, Violet can't return home.

She and Jonah can be safe, since Sarah arranged haven for them at the distant house of her late fiance's family, but they can't go home.

 

Hi Arait. So I didn't read this all the way through or make a lot of comments, because your synopsis is much too long. I put it into Word, and it's 1588 words. Your synopsis should be 600-700 words. Make it one page, single-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. That will be ~ 600 words. The first thing you have to do is cut this dramatically in length. Of course that means you will have to cut a lot of details, a lot of the story. Your synopsis has be to short and concise, longer than your query but still short. This is challenging because you have to cover important points without always being able to explain them. If you can't make something clear, then leave it out. But once you start cutting things, you'll be surprised how much you can cut and still have a good story.

 

Re the names, I would just omit the name Plum entirely. You don't need it for the story. You can also omit the name Jamison -- just refer to him as the store owner until you get his real name (Jonah). Then write that the boy, the store owner and Jonah are the same person. You don't want more than 3-4 names in your synopsis. Choose the name you want to call him (I think Jonah) and keep that one.

 

Your synopsis has a lovely flow to it. The first paragraph is quite beautiful. But you have to curb your desire to write long and lovely in a synopsis. You have to make it short and lovely. Good luck!



#4 Arait

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 03:08 PM

I know it's way too long. I said that from the start. But I was hoping for help figuring out what other people thought was non-essential that I could cut. Because what I would cut are the same exact things that people kept asking me to explain more clearly. I would cut the descriptions of their dates because they seem less essential to plot to me. But that's the evidence that this story is romance, and everyone keeps asking where's the proof that these two even like each other.

After I wrote this, I went through and cut out what I thought was non-essential. And those are the very lines that both of you asked me to explain better. I really really need help knowing what can come out without confusing people. Because every time I take anything out, someone says a missing explanation is confusing them.

I do kinda like the idea of just calling Jonah "the suspect" until Violet learns who he is, to cut out the name Jamison. I was also considering just replacing Thomas with "the bookstore manager" but I thought that was a bit cumbersome to say each time, and it certainly doesn't help me get my word count lower...

#5 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 03:36 PM

I'm going to go through this again, and try to highlight the parts that could use some paring down.  I realize I didn't help doing that the first time around, but I was more focused on just trying to get everything in a good order.

I realize this needs to be fairly significantly trimmed. But when I started hacking away at what seemed least relevant to the plot to me, I realized I was removing all the romantic elements. But I can't call the story a YA Romance and then cut all the romance out of the synopsis. So I'm hoping you can help me figure out what can go without causing confusion. Over on the query thread, there seemed to be a lot of confusion from left out details, so I probably over compensated here. Oh, also the male MC is introduced three different times as three different people, and I can't decide which of the names to capitalize for clarity's sake. Extremely sorry for the excessive length.

Every day VIOLET and her older sister SARAH run to the back fence to watch the train pass by their farm. It's a pattern as consistent as Sarah having a fable with a lightly concealed moral for every situation. Even the violets that grew along the tracks each spring could be explained by one of her stories: a group of troublemaking boys come down to the plains every winter, but in the spring they must flee back to the mountains. They hitch a ride on the train leaving wildflowers behind in their wake.

To Violet, adventurous boys planting her namesake was like a trail leading the way to uninhibited freedom. Realizing she had overstepped a line, Sarah never spoke of that story again, but every word of it was deeply engrained in Violet's soul.

The next spring when they go to see the train one afternoon, there's a boy across the tracks. Looking wild and entirely unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is absolutely certain they just met one of the boys from Sarah's story.

Exactly one year later, the same boy appears at the tracks again. Afraid that he'll disappear, Violet rushes across the tracks as soon as the train passes to find that he waited just to invite her to see the night train. Sarah urges her to accept the invitation, knowing this will be Violet's last chance for quite some time. The family has just decided to send Violet to live with their grandparents in the city where she could be better educated than at their town's one room schoolhouse.

Violet sneaks out to meet the boy, who is waiting for her with a handful of violets. When Violet introduces herself, he mockingly calls himself "Plum." The train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his real name. He shoves her back to her side of the tracks and disappears again.
 This part here could be omitted or refined.  I know that this introduction shows him in a bit more detail, but it doesn't seem necessary after reading the rest of the synopsis.  And don't worry about leaving out a second meeting, etc.  When  was writing my synopsis, I had to cut out huge sections just to keep it concise and not bog it down.  An agent isn't looking for an exact play-by-play in the synopsis, they just want to see the story structure, if it's going somewhere and if it has a decent ending.

While living with her grandparents in the city, Violet receives many letters from her family. Her brother writes her about the murder of the local store owner in a house fire. The leading suspect, Mr. Jamison, is widely distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Even if evidence can only prove he was in the vicinity of the crime around the time the blaze began, rumors spread accusing him of every little thing that has recently gone wrong. After someone else confesses and is convicted of the murder, public opinion of Jamison still does not improve; damage to his reputation is already done.

One day Violet receives a letter from her mother explaining that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. Violet rushes back to the farm, expected to mend Sarah's heart with her upbeat nature.

Violet would do anything if it would help improve Sarah's condition, so she doesn't hesitate to go into town at her request to meet someone named Jonah. That evening Violet discovers that Jonah, Jamison, and Plum (instead of Plum, just refer to him as the boy at the train tracks)  are all the same person when he pulls his vanishing act again at the station where she was told she could find him.

Whereas the average couple of their time would spend their dates at the cinema or ice cream parlor, Violet and Jonah spend an enjoyable evening boulder hopping at the creek that runs through town. Their time together is cut short by an unexpected thunderstorm, but Jonah asks to see her again the next evening, nostalgically by the railroad where they first met.

Violet returns to her disheartened sister with exciting events to retell. Sarah helps her plan her escape for the second time so their parents won't know she is sneaking out to see a boy the whole town dislikes. Jonah has arranged a picnic in the woods with smoked fish and venison jerky. Not necessarily a gourmet, candlelight dinner but romantic in its own way.  
You could omit one of these dates, so therefore you cut down the synopsis without losing the romantic element.  We don't need to know the details of the boulder hopping, or what they ate, or what the average couple of their time was doing.  I would just say something like she snuck out for a picnic in the woods with the boy from her fairy tale and when she returned home, the family was in the living room.  You can omit the part about Sarah helping her plan the escape and whatnot, because it is superfluous.

At nightfall Violet returns home, but when she sneaks inside, the whole family is awake in the living room. Thomas, a family friend was attacked at the bookstore he manages by a gang of Chinese bootleggers. Only a few hours before the attack, Jonah had been spotted arguing with Thomas.

Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she had been sneaking around with (it's mentioned she's already sneaking around so this is redundant) and the eyewitness account of a long trusted (don't need to know for the sake of word count) family friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah. She doesn't want to discourage Sarah with bad news, but she needs her sister's advice. Sarah can hardly speak, managing a hoarse whisper, "Only you can uncover the truth of Jonah Jamison." (So, Sarah is getting sicker? You could just say that, forget about the hoarse whisper and the quotations of what she says.  Something like "Sarah has fallen more ill, can barely speak, and can only tell her she can uncover the truth" or something, but obviously make it sound more eloquent.) 

In the eight years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered exactly who Jonah is and that he isn't nearly as bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own, so she does her best to guide Violet to the answer. 

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah, this time in riddles. She follows his clues along the railroad to a boulder in the forest where he serenades her on harmonica (this is all info we don't need.  The spiked hot chocolate is the important bit so go straight to that.) and offers her spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. That particularly awkward moment feels like the right time to ask Jonah what happened at the bookstore.

Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. Earnestly wanting to believe him, Violet let's him get away with the vague answer. A little while later, they climb a hill to watch the night train go by, (Again, jump straight to the kiss because it's the important part) and Jonah surprises her with a kiss.

Violet's faith is restored until she talks to Thomas, who asserts that Jonah was certainly more involved than he claimed. The contradiction distresses her for days. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the confusion.

Then, Violet catches Jonah sneaking into Sarah's room through the window. She finds out the two know each other, and that Sarah has been hiding a chronic illness from the family for years. Furious about the lies, Violet runs from the room, refusing to listen to either.

When Sarah reveals her intentions to tell Violet the truth, Jonah panics. He rushes into his boss at the local speakeasy and asks to leave the gang. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save Thomas. Viewed as a traitor, he is punished severely then left to freeze overnight in a spring blizzard. The harsh treatment crushes any hope he ever had of cleaning up his life.

Violet is unaware of events in town, going through daily life on the farm in a distraught haze. When her cousins get drunk and rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with some friends, Jonah gets dragged into a fight trying to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, frantically describing what had happened and that Jonah was shot.

Instantly Violet's animosity toward Jonah seems petty. Worried for his life, she hurries into town. She finds Jonah at the train station, taken there by the girl he had fought to save. She asks Violet to help her sneak him into a boxcar. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side. Along the ride, Jonah seems to be trying to explain the situation but can't muster the strength. He has them jump off the train outside a nearby town, after which they limp their way to the home of a Chinese family in the slums.

The family ushers them in urgently. While Violet understands none of what they say, she watches intently as they treat Jonah using traditional Eastern medicine. Slowly she begins to piece together the dark secret he shares with her sister: opium.

The next morning, word reaches the family harboring them that Jonah was trying to run away from the gang. Even though that was far from his reason for running, Jonah can't deny the rumor is founded in truth. The family hides them as long as possible. 
(All of this could be condensed into half of what it is with some work)

While they are hiding, Violet decides to finally tell Jonah who she thought he was all along, disguising the fable in a series of other stories her sister invented. Jonah responds by telling his life story in a fictionalized tale about the rich family that lives at the end of town. The father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man of ill-repute who offered him a job smuggling. (I know that fables are a large part of this story, but again, for the sake of word count, condense) Just as it seems they are finally able to sort through all that they had kept from one another, the mob's hitmen bust into town, dragging people out of houses one by one in search of them.

Jonah and Violet take to the run, across rooftops, in and out of houses, through underground tunnels. Violet is thrust suddenly into the reality that her fairy tale boy lives in. It's too late for her to back out. Even when her older brother bails them out of a pinch between a hitman and a doberman and peels out of town as fast as his old clunker can go, Violet can't return home. (Again, I think this needs to be expanded.)

She and Jonah can be safe, since Sarah arranged haven for them at the distant house of her late fiance's family, but they can't go home.

 

I hope I sort of helped.  Cutting down a synopsis is a bitch and a half.  Also, you may want to do search for redundant words and phrases.  Those can really eat up word count, and when you take them out, it won't affect anything you've written.  Words like had, that, just, etc. are redundant words that can usually be omitted.  I write very wordy and I found this helped loads with cutting words out of my manuscript and synopsis without sacrificing anything important.

Here's a good website I found that can tell you redundant words: https://dianaurban.c...ing-immediately and here's another one: https://julietmadison.com/2013/05/15/editing-tip-10-words-to-search-for-in-your-manuscript/



#6 Arait

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 07:25 PM

After removing the words mentioned in those links, and eliminating or consolidating all the parts you mentioned, I have successfully reduced my word count by ~150 because I also had to add in rather lengthy suggested clarifications. Not much result for the work. I know it doesn't make sense to post something so huge again, even if I've changed a lot. Just letting y'all know.

#7 PureZhar3

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Posted 03 February 2018 - 07:20 PM

Overall it's good. I think if you are to cut anything, you should shorten the earlier bits (particularly about the fairytale stuff). Consider (if you're able to) using the start of your query, which sums that bit up quickly. I would also take some of the intermediate stuff (dates are good, but you can cut the descriptions of them down). Also be vary of adjectives... you use a lot, which can be good, but ensure they're absolutely necessary.

 

Try writing it less detailed, and then, with the remaining available words, go more into detail. Sorry if I'm not helping much.


If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at my query: http://agentquerycon...-realismsci-fi/


#8 Arait

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 01:08 AM

Well, I cut this by 1/3. Still not near short enough. Just want to check to make sure it still makes sense and that I'm not starting to leave big question marks all over the place. And again, what might be able to come out without 1) causing confusion, or 2) making people forget this is a romance story. Please and thank you.

Every day VIOLET and her older sister SARAH watch the train pass by their farm. It's a pattern as consistent as Sarah having a fable for every situation. To Violet, the freedom and adventure of the stories is irresistible. Her favorite tells of troublemaking boys who hitch a ride on the train while fleeing to the mountains. Realizing she has caused Violet to fall in love with someone imaginary, Sarah never speaks of that story again, but every word was engrained in Violet's soul.

Then, a boy appears across the tracks. Looking wild and unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is convinced they just met one of the boys from Sarah's story.

The next time Violet sees him, he invites her to watch the night train. Sarah urges her to accept the invitation, knowing Violet will soon be sent to live with their grandparents to attend school in the city. Violet sneaks out to meet the boy, who is waiting for her with a handful of violets. She introduces herself, but the train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his name. He shoves her back to her side of the tracks and disappears again.

While living with her grandparents from 1923 to 1931, Violet receives many letters from her family. Her brother writes her about the murder of the local store owner in a house fire. The leading suspect is widely distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Evidence can only prove he was in the vicinity of the crime, yet rumors spread accusing him of every little mishap. After someone else confesses to the murder, public opinion of him still does not improve.

One day Violet receives a letter explaining that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. When Violet rushes back to the farm to mend Sarah's heart, she trips over the acquitted suspect at the station. He retreats skittishly, especially when he hears her name.

Violet would do anything to improve Sarah's condition, so she doesn't hesitate to meet someone named JONAH at the mercantile. There, she encounters the suspect, who leads her on a goose chase until sunset. At last, he reveals himself to be not only the Jonah she was sent to meet, but also the boy she loved from years ago. Jonah asks to see her again the next evening by the railroad where they first met. He has arranged a picnic in the woods which is neither gourmet nor fancy. To Violet, it's perfect.

When she returns home, the family is gathered around a longtime friend—and bookstore manager—who was attacked by a gang of Chinese bootleggers. A few hours before the attack, Jonah had been spotted arguing with him. Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she has been seeing and the eyewitness account of a trusted friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah.

In the years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered Jonah isn't nearly as bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own. Instead, Sarah urges Violet to uncover the truth herself.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah, where he serenades her in the forest and offers her spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. When Violet asks what happened at the bookstore, Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. The vague answer restores her faith until she talks to the bookstore manager, who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

Sarah informs Jonah she intends to tell Violet the truth: she has been hiding a chronic illness for years, self-medicating it with black market remedies he delivers. In a panic, Jonah tells his boss at the local speakeasy he wants to leave the gang. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save the bookstore. Viewed as a traitor, he is beat, soaked, and left to freeze overnight in a blizzard.

When Violet's cousins get rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with friends, Jonah is dragged into a fight to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Violet has been going through daily life, distraught and unaware of events in town. Her cousin frantically describes what happened and that Jonah was shot.

Worried for his life, Violet hurries into town. She finds Jonah at the train station, brought there by the coworker he fought to save. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side, helping him to the home of a Chinese family in the slums. The family ushers them in urgently and treats Jonah's wounds using traditional Eastern medicine. Though Violet can't understand what's happening, she begins to piece together the dark secret Jonah shares with her sister: opium.

While they are hiding with the family, Violet tells Jonah of the fairy-tale character she always thought he was. Jonah responds by telling his life story: the father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man who offered him a job smuggling. During their belated honest conversation, the mob's hitmen bust into town in search of them. Mistakenly believing Jonah has run from them, the mob intends to ensure he doesn't escape.

Violet is thrust suddenly into a reality far more dangerous than any fairy tale, and it's too late to back out.

Jonah and Violet flee across rooftops, in and out of houses, and into a sweatshop. The supervisor directs them through a secret, underground tunnel which opens out on the lavish property of Jonah's estranged mother.

The familial relation proves to be meaningless when she stands idly by as her husband turns Jonah over to the mob. Violet's older brother bails them out by plowing into the hitmen's car, and they race out of town as fast as his old clunker can go.

Sarah has arranged haven for Violet and Jonah at the distant house of her late fiance's family. They are safe, but they can't go home.

#9 VSChapman

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Posted 06 February 2018 - 09:15 AM

Well, I cut this by 1/3. Still not near short enough. Just want to check to make sure it still makes sense and that I'm not starting to leave big question marks all over the place. And again, what might be able to come out without 1) causing confusion, or 2) making people forget this is a romance story. Please and thank you.

Every day VIOLET and her older sister SARAH watch the train pass by their farm. It's a pattern as consistent as Sarah having a fable for every situation. (this confused me. Maybe a different way to word it. 'As consistent as the train are Sarah's stories for every situation'?) To Violet, the freedom and adventure of the stories is irresistible. Her favorite tells of troublemaking boys who hitch a ride on the train while fleeing to the mountains. Realizing she has caused Violet to fall in love with someone imaginary, Sarah never speaks of that story again, but every word was engrained in Violet's soul.

Then, a boy appears across the tracks. Looking wild and unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is convinced they just met one of the boys from Sarah's story.

The next time Violet sees him, (how long has passed? What age are they now?) he invites her to watch the night train. Sarah urges her to accept the invitation, knowing Violet will soon be sent to live with their grandparents to attend school in the city. Violet sneaks out to meet the boy, who is waiting for her with a handful of violets. She introduces herself, but the train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his name. He shoves her back to her side of the tracks and disappears again. (So, he shoves her across the tracks right before a train goes by? I didn't quite understand why he's shoving her. Did they get to spend any time together?)

While living with her grandparents from 1923 to 1931, (I wonder if you could move the time period up to the first paragraph to give us the surroundings better)Violet receives many letters from her family. (if you need to cut words this could easily be cut out to make it flow better)Her brother writes her about the murder of the local store owner in a house fire. The leading suspect is widely distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Evidence can only prove he was in the vicinity of the crime, yet rumors spread accusing him of every little mishap. After someone else confesses to the murder, public opinion of him still does not improve.

One day Violet receives a letter explaining that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. When Violet rushes back to the farm to mend Sarah's heart, she trips over the acquitted suspect at the station. He retreats skittishly, especially when he hears her name.

Violet would do anything to improve Sarah's condition, so she doesn't hesitate to meet someone named JONAH at the mercantile. (why would this improve her condition? 'Violet agrees to meet someone named JONAH, to make her sister happy, hoping it'll improve her condition') There, she encounters the suspect, who leads her on a goose chase until sunset. (huh? This needs to be expanded on. Is she chasing him? Are they running from someone?) At last, he reveals himself to be not only the Jonah she was sent to meet, but also the boy she loved from years ago. Jonah asks to see her again the next evening by the railroad where they first met. He has arranged a picnic in the woods which is neither gourmet nor fancy. To Violet, it's perfect. (again something to cut if you want to shop down on words)

When she returns home, the family is gathered around a longtime friend—and bookstore manager—who was attacked by a gang of Chinese bootleggers. A few hours before the attack, Jonah had been spotted arguing with him. Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she has been seeing and the eyewitness account of a trusted friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah.

In the years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered Jonah isn't nearly as bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own. Instead, Sarah urges Violet to uncover the truth herself.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah, where he serenades her in the forest and offers her spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. When Violet asks what happened at the bookstore, Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. The vague answer restores her faith (vagueness shouldn't restore faith. It should do the opposite) until she talks to the bookstore manager, who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

Sarah informs Jonah she intends to tell Violet the truth: she has been hiding a chronic illness for years, self-medicating it with black market remedies he delivers. In a panic, Jonah tells his boss at the local speakeasy(what is this? I'm not familiar) he wants to leave the gang. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save the bookstore. Viewed as a traitor, he is beat, soaked, and left to freeze overnight in a blizzard.

When Violet's cousins get rowdy celebrating at the speakeasy with friends, Jonah is dragged into a fight to protect a coworker. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Violet has been going through daily life, distraught and unaware of events in town. Her cousin frantically describes what happened and that Jonah was shot.

Worried for his life, Violet hurries into town. She finds Jonah at the train station, brought there by the coworker he fought to save. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side, helping him to the home of a Chinese family in the slums. The family ushers them in urgently and treats Jonah's wounds using traditional Eastern medicine. Though Violet can't understand what's happening, she begins to piece together the dark secret Jonah shares with her sister: opium. (I think you could move the secret up)

While they are hiding with the family, Violet tells Jonah of the fairy-tale character she always thought he was. Jonah responds by telling his life story: the father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man who offered him a job smuggling. During their belated honest conversation, the mob's hitmen bust into town in search of them. Mistakenly believing Jonah has run from them, the mob intends to ensure he doesn't escape.

Violet is thrust suddenly into a reality far more dangerous than any fairy tale, a dangerous world and it's too late to back out. 

Jonah and Violet flee across rooftops, in and out of houses, and into a sweatshop. The supervisor directs them through They find a secret, underground tunnel which opens out on the lavish property of Jonah's estranged mother.

The familial relation proves to be meaningless when she stands idly by as her husband turns Jonah over to the mob. Violet's older brother bails them out by plowing into the hitmen's car, and they race out of town as fast as his old clunker can go.

Sarah has arranged haven for Violet and Jonah at the distant house of her late fiance's family. They are safe, but they can't go home.

So, I didn't read the first one. Yes, this is a good start. But I believe you still have too many details in here that don't really matter. Like for example; go ahead and tell what the secret is instead of keeping us guessing. I think that'll cut things a bit. And if you rearrange a lot of the sentences you could chop a lot of words. Honestly, I'm just starting to learn about how to write a synopsis myself so we can learn together. But, from what I have read is that you still have too much detail in here. Look at every sentence and see if you need everything in it. I crossed out a few things here and there to try to make it flow better. Good luck! I know it's hard. ;)



#10 Arait

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 01:13 PM

Third try. 832 words. I think this reads choppy and boring as hell, like my voice vanished along with Jonah and the train... Hopefully I'm wrong.

Also, I'm getting ready to query an agency that requires a "full synopsis." Since they specify repeatedly that it should be "full," I'm curious what that means. Are they expecting one longer than the average 2 pages? Or is it just a reminder that a synopsis should not leave out important details?

Every day, sisters VIOLET and SARAH watch the train pass their farm. The tradition is as consistent as Sarah having a story for every situation. To Violet, the freedom and adventure of the fables is irresistible. Her favorite tells of troublemaking boys who hitch a ride on the train while fleeing to the mountains. Realizing she has caused Violet to love someone imaginary, Sarah never repeats that story, but every word was engrained in Violet's soul.

Then, a boy appears across the tracks. Looking wild and unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is convinced they met a boy from Sarah's story. When Violet is eight, she sneaks out to see the night train. He's there, but the train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his name. He disappears again.

While living with her grandparents, from 1923 to 1931, to attend school in the city, her brother writes her about the arson which killed the mercantile owner. The leading suspect is distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Evidence only proves he was at the crime scene, yet rumors spread accusing him of every little mishap. After someone else confesses to the murder, public opinion of him still does not improve.

One day Violet hears that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. When Violet rushes back to the farm to mend Sarah's heart, she trips over the acquitted suspect at the station. He retreats skittishly, especially when he hears her name.

Violet agrees to meet JONAH at the mercantile to make her sister happy, hoping it will improve her condition. There, she encounters the suspect, who tells her Jonah will be at the station at sunset. As dusk falls, the suspect demonstrates a familiar vanishing act, revealing he is, not only the Jonah she was sent to meet, but also the boy from Sarah's story. Jonah asks to see her again the next evening.

When she returns home from the date, the family is gathered around a longtime friend—and bookstore manager—who was attacked by Chinese bootleggers. Hours before the attack, Jonah was seen arguing with him. Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she has been seeing and the eyewitness account of a trusted friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah.

In the years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered Jonah isn't so bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own. Instead, Sarah urges Violet to uncover the truth herself.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah. When she asks him what happened at the bookstore, Jonah says he was only there to pick something up. Her faith is restored until she talks to the bookstore manager who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

Sarah informs Jonah she intends to tell Violet the truth: she has been hiding her illness for years, self-medicating with the opium he delivers. In a panic, Jonah tells his boss he wants to quit. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save the bookstore. Viewed as a traitor, he is beat, soaked, and left to freeze overnight in a blizzard.

When Violet's cousins get rowdy celebrating with friends, Jonah is dragged into a fight. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Violet has been going through life unaware of events in town, and he describes what happened.

Hearing Jonah was shot, Violet rushes into town. She finds Jonah at the station trying to escape. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side, and they hide out at his friends' house in a nearby town. Violet finally tells Jonah of the fairy-tale character she always thought he was. Jonah responds by telling his life story: the father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man who offered him a job smuggling. During their belated honest conversation, the mob's hitmen bust into town in search of them. Believing Jonah has run from them, the mob intends to ensure he doesn't get away.

Jonah and Violet flee across rooftops, through houses, and into a sweatshop. There a secret, underground tunnel leads them to the lavish property of Jonah's estranged mother. The familial relation proves meaningless when she idly lets her husband turn Jonah over to the mob. Violet's brother rescues them, plowing into the hitmen's car and driving them far away.

Sarah has arranged haven for Violet and Jonah with her late fiance's family. They are safe, but they can't go home.

#11 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 02:50 PM

Third try. 832 words. I think this reads choppy and boring as hell, like my voice vanished along with Jonah and the train... Hopefully I'm wrong.  I feel you.  I don't understand how we are supposed to "use our own voice and SHOW not tell" in a synopsis, when you literally are telling your plot points, in the driest, most crusty form to ever exist WITH A WORD LIMIT.  But I digress...

Also, I'm getting ready to query an agency that requires a "full synopsis." Since they specify repeatedly that it should be "full," I'm curious what that means. Are they expecting one longer than the average 2 pages? Or is it just a reminder that a synopsis should not leave out important details? By full, I'm assuming they mean the full story, beginning to end.  A lot of people send these things in like they're a query and don't put in the ending.  This is also going to go against what everyone says, but I wouldn't worry about word count, just keep it to 1 -2 pages.  That's what most agencies ask for.  I wouldn't worry about getting it under X amount of words, unless an agency specifies it.  Especially since your novel has a lot of mysteries to reveal, you might need those extra words.

Every day, sisters VIOLET and SARAH watch the train pass their farm. The tradition is as consistent as Sarah having a story for every situation. To Violet, the freedom and adventure of the Sarah's fables is irresistible. Her favorite tells of troublemaking boys who hitch a ride on the train while fleeing to the mountains. Realizing she has caused Violet to love someone imaginary, Sarah never repeats that story, but every word was engrained in Violet's soul.

One day? Then, a boy appears across the tracks. Looking wild and unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is convinced they met a boy from Sarah's story. When Violet is eight, she sneaks out to see the night train. He's there, but the train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his name. He disappears again. This is way better than the previous one I read.

While living with her grandparents, from 1923 to 1931, to attend school in the city, her brother writes her about the arson an act of arson? which killed the mercantile owner. The leading suspect is distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Evidence only proves can only prove? he was at the crime scene, yet rumors spread accusing him of every little mishap. After someone else confesses to the murder, public opinion of him still does not improve.

One day Violet hears that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. When Violet rushes back to the farm to mend Sarah's heart, she trips over the acquitted suspect at the station. He retreats skittishly, especially when he hears her name. 

Violet agrees to meet JONAH at the mercantile to make her sister happy, hoping it will improve her condition. There, she encounters the suspect, who tells her Jonah will be at the station at sunset. As dusk falls, the suspect demonstrates a familiar vanishing act, revealing he is, not only the Jonah she was sent to meet, but also the boy from Sarah's story. Jonah asks to see her again the next evening. Okay, these last two paragraphs left me a bit confused.  I think this version tells TOO little.  You need to meet it halfway with the other versions.

When she returns home from the date eh? there was a date?, the family is gathered around a longtime friend—and bookstore manager—who was attacked by Chinese bootleggers. Hours before the attack, Jonah was seen arguing with him. Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she has been seeing and the eyewitness account of a trusted friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah.

In the years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered Jonah isn't so bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own. Instead, Sarah urges Violet to uncover the truth herself.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah. When she asks him what happened at the bookstore, Jonah says he was only there to pick something up. Her faith is restored until she talks to the bookstore manager who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

Sarah informs Jonah she intends to tell Violet the truth: she has been hiding her illness for years, self-medicating with the opium he delivers. In a panic, Jonah tells his boss he wants to quit. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save the bookstore. Viewed as a traitor, he is beat, soaked, and left to freeze overnight in a blizzard.

I think you need to establish time has passed here.  When Violet's cousins get rowdy celebrating with friends, Jonah is dragged into a fight and shot. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Violet has been going through life unaware of events in town, and he describes what happened.

Hearing Jonah was shot, Violet rushes into town. She finds Jonah at the station trying to escape. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side, and they hide out at his friends' house in a nearby town. You need to add back in something about his friends helping to heal his shotgun wound, or omit the part about being shot entirely and just say he was trying to escape town injured. Violet finally tells Jonah of the fairy-tale character she always thought he was. Jonah responds by telling his life story: the father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man who offered him a job smuggling. During their belated honest conversation, the mob's hitmen bust into town in search of them. Believing Jonah has run from them, the mob intends to ensure he doesn't get away.

Jonah and Violet flee across rooftops, through houses, and into a sweatshop. There a secret, underground tunnel leads them to the lavish property of Jonah's estranged mother. The familial relation proves meaningless when she idly lets her husband turn Jonah over to the mob. BITCH!!!! Violet's brother rescues them, plowing into the hitmen's car and driving them far away. Does Violet's brother have a bigger role in this story, where he can be mentioned more than just the one time above? I still don't understand how her brother found them, and his appearance seems very sudden.

Sarah has arranged haven for Violet and Jonah with her late fiance's family. They are safe, but they can't go home.

 

I think the intro when they are young is good.  It's much shorter, but we don't need a whole bunch of info, so it works.  I think the final three paragraphs are good, too, apart from the brother bit.  It was much clearer from the first time I read it.  But the parts when she meets Jonah... I feel like it's lacking now.  There was too much stripped away.  There needs to be a happy medium between the dates you showed us in the first version and this one.  This is a romance story, after all, so we need to hear some of that.  



#12 Arait

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 03:37 PM

Yeah, her brother, his wife, and the bookstore manager are all important characters, but alas! there's no room for them here.

*takes out this sentence as suggested*
He has arranged a picnic in the woods which is neither gourmet nor fancy. To Violet, it's perfect. (again something to cut if you want to shop down on words)
*now no one knows there was a date.* Sigh. I knew those things had to be in there. But if I put them back in, what will I take out that won't lead to confusion? I'm still a paragraph longer than 2 pages.

#13 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 04:52 PM

Okay, so maybe a middle ground for that would be: Jonah asks to see her again the next evening by the railroad where they first met. He has arranged a picnic in the woods which to Violet, is perfect.

 

OR, another paragraph: Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah.  They meet in the forest and he offers her a spiked hot chocolate. Violet is shocked, especially when he nearly admits that it was smuggled in from Canada. When Violet asks what happened at the bookstore, Jonah promises he had only gone there to pick something up. Her faith in him is restored until she talks to the bookstore manager who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

 

Or something along the lines of that.  I'm just copying and pasting stuff together from what you have, but you get the idea  :tongue:

 

Are you single or double spacing your pages? Like I said earlier, I would try not to stress too much about length and try more to get everything in while still painting a nice picture (which seems impossible, I know.)



#14 Arait

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:09 PM

These days I write pretty much everything in web format, but instructions seem pretty clear that a synopsis should be double spaced, paragraph form, like old school.

I also don't know how to explain how her brother found them without putting "the coworker" back in who I had just finally thought was irrelevant enough to take out -.-'

#15 DisgruntledWriter

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Posted 09 February 2018 - 05:29 PM

What the yotz have I been reading online then?! I've seen web pages that say anything from one page to twenty-five pages for a synopsis.  I guess what I was trying to say was, try not to stress out too much on length, just try to get the content right.



#16 VSChapman

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 10:44 AM

Third try. 832 words. I think this reads choppy and boring as hell, like my voice vanished along with Jonah and the train... Hopefully I'm wrong.

Also, I'm getting ready to query an agency that requires a "full synopsis." Since they specify repeatedly that it should be "full," I'm curious what that means. Are they expecting one longer than the average 2 pages? Or is it just a reminder that a synopsis should not leave out important details?

Every day, sisters VIOLET and SARAH watch the train pass their farm. The tradition is as consistent as Sarah having a story for every situation. To Violet, the freedom and adventure of the fables is irresistible. Her favorite tells of troublemaking boys who hitch a ride on the train while fleeing to the mountains. Realizing she has caused Violet to love someone imaginary, Sarah never repeats that story, but every word was engrained in Violet's soul.

Then, a boy appears across the tracks. Looking wild and unrefined, he grins at the girls and vanishes when the train passes. Violet is convinced they met a boy from Sarah's story. When Violet is eight, she sneaks out to see the night train. He's there, but the train whistle interrupts them before she can learn his name. He disappears again.

While living with her grandparents, from 1923 to 1931, to attend school in the city, her brother writes her about the arson which killed the mercantile owner. The leading suspect is distrusted around town as shifty and lurking. Evidence only proves he was at the crime scene, yet rumors spread accusing him of every little mishap. After someone else confesses to the murder, public opinion of him still does not improve.

One day Violet hears that Sarah has fallen ill, bedridden and heartbroken from the accidental death of her fiance. When Violet rushes back to the farm to mend Sarah's heart, she trips over the acquitted suspect at the station. He retreats skittishly, especially when he hears her name.

Violet agrees to meet JONAH at the mercantile to make her sister happy, hoping it will improve her condition. There, she encounters the suspect, who tells her Jonah will be at the station at sunset. As dusk falls, the suspect demonstrates a familiar vanishing act, revealing he is, not only the Jonah she was sent to meet, but also the boy from Sarah's story. Jonah asks to see her again the next evening. (I think this paragraph is confusing. I'd chop it down.) There, she learns that Jonah is not only the suspect but the boy from Sarah's story.

When she returns home from the date, the family is gathered around a longtime friend—and bookstore manager—who was attacked by Chinese bootleggers. Hours before the attack, Jonah was seen arguing with him. Torn between the sweet but mischievous boy she has been seeing and the eyewitness account of a trusted friend, Violet reluctantly confides in Sarah.

In the years Violet was gone, Sarah discovered Jonah isn't so bad as people think. To speak up and redeem him, however, would expose a dark secret of her own. Instead, Sarah urges Violet to uncover the truth herself.

Trusting Sarah's judgement, Violet accepts another invitation from Jonah. When she asks him what happened at the bookstore, Jonah says he was only there to pick something up. Her faith is restored until she talks to the bookstore manager who asserts Jonah was certainly more involved than that. While Jonah is nowhere to be found, Sarah's health worsens suddenly, and Violet has no one to help her sort out the contradictions.

Sarah informs Jonah she intends to tell Violet the truth: she has been hiding her illness for years, self-medicating with the opium he delivers. In a panic, Jonah tells his boss he wants to quit. His request is not accepted kindly, nor is the fact that he tried to save the bookstore. Viewed as a traitor, he is beat, soaked, and left to freeze overnight in a blizzard.

When Violet's cousins get rowdy celebrating with friends, Jonah is dragged into a fight. One of the boys makes it out to the farm, where Violet has been going through life unaware of events in town, and he describes what happened.

Hearing Jonah was shot, Violet rushes into town. She finds Jonah at the station trying to escape. When the train starts to move, Violet has only seconds to decide whether she will stay with her family and let Jonah bleed to death, or run away as a fugitive with the boy she loves.

She chooses to stay by Jonah's side, and they hide out at his friends' house in a nearby town. Violet finally tells Jonah of the fairy-tale character she always thought he was. Jonah responds by telling his life story: the father who stopped working when he was seven; the night he spent on the street; the con man who offered him a job smuggling. During their belated honest conversation, the mob's hitmen bust into town in search of them. Believing Jonah has run from them, the mob intends to ensure he doesn't get away.

Jonah and Violet flee across rooftops, through houses, and into a sweatshop. There a secret, underground tunnel leads them to the lavish property of Jonah's estranged mother. The familial relation proves meaningless when she idly lets her husband turn Jonah over to the mob. Violet's brother rescues them, plowing into the hitmen's car and driving them far away.

Sarah has arranged haven for Violet and Jonah with her late fiance's family. They are safe, but they can't go home.

I don't think it reads boring. Like Disgruntled said- it's hard to tell the story without sounding a bit dry. I think you've got all the points in here. That one paragraph was confusing but that was it. 






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