Synopsis Support thread

I’m drafting my pitch for traditional publishing and I’m trying to pull together a 1-page synopsis. Any support greatly appreciated!

Particually it’s the ending that’s giving me greif…

Summary

The first of five fantasy novels, The Fool focuses on the internal struggle of Clarence O’Leary the Leprechaun. Clarence is intentionally avoiding his past, but he can only avoid the barrage of letters from somebody back at home for so long. Every letter he receives sends Clarence spiraling into a pattern of destructive risk taking, leading to him bringing home an illegal immigrant from the banned world Earth.

Throughout Clarence’s narrative, the world expands in the interactions he has with others. Fred the kind, gentle landlord who is unable to read acts as Clarence’s moral compass and anchor, and with his death, Clarence is set adrift. Beatrix, who came from a world which destroyed itself, is quick to criticise justice and morality because her view of such notions is thoroughly jaded but her own internal pessimism leads to her exploitation. Bobbin a Humanist and a Pirate has dreams of Human Equality that lead to extremism and genoside, and Rosa, a Witch who suffers from premonitions and lives under her brother Bobbins shadow, longs to learn to use her powers and is eventually destroyed by them. Injustice, inequality and social hierarchy form a narrative backdrop in The Fool which is later expanded into the thematic plot points of the later books.

Our story opens following the receipt one of the dreaded letters which spurs Clarence into an adventure to visit a banned world known as Earth. Earth is very similar to his own world Joining Earth, being once so closely linked, but for over two thousand years it has been punishable by death to visit it. Very few people remember it exists at all, but of those who do they say it is a barbaric world devoid of magic. When Clarence is given the opportunity to visit, he does it knowing that they are facing self destruction, though he has little comprehension of what this means.

The horrors he experiences on Earth leave a deep and resounding mark on Clarence, and when he manages to return to his world, Joining Earth, he finds he has brought back an immigrant, Beatrix. Unable to kill her he saves her and finds that through her he is able to craft the mirage of a life he has always wanted, one where he is happy and feels he has a version of ‘family’ he always desired.

But the letters continue to come, and his allowance is restricted as his past tries to reclaim him. A year after his journey to Earth his distant ‘real’ family is assassinated and people come for him. Clarence runs, his life shattered and his illusion of happiness torn apart. Now the very person who made him happiest causes him the most pain as he reluctantly journeys back to his family home, knowing that he must face a tyrant who made his childhood unbearable. He goes because he feels he must honour his dead friend Fred, but in doing so he spirals into a depression so dark he attempts to end his life on more than one occasion. Each time he tries he is prevented from it, first by hounds belonging to the aloof and secretive mercenary known as Sausage and later by his mother’s Elemental blood. But Clarence is crippled by fear, knowing what he will face when he returns makes death a pleasant option, but nobody apart from Beatrix really seems to care, in fact many believe he is selfish. Clarences suffering is a private thing, he shuts out his friends and his erratic behaviours force them away from him right up to the point that he’s standing at the gates to his home, at which point he has to make a choice. Can he face his fear and can he allow his friends to help him?

You use up almost half your word count before you get to “our story starts.” They goal here is to show the reader that you know how to plot/organize a novel. Focus on this story.

I read this article yesterday. I might actually rewrite my own synopsis using this template.

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Time to rewrite! haha This resource is really helpful. Thank you!

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Ok…so second attempt seems to be a bit more punchy but the ending is still not…as impacting as it is in the book.

Summary

The Mighty Council of the Light preside over thousands of worlds stretching from the Central world of Joining Earth to the farthest reaches of the fringe planets, but they are under attack. Clarence O’Leary, a Leprechaun with an abusive past, wishes he would stop receiving letters from home. Following the receipt of a dreaded letter, Clarence embarks on a foolish and dangerous excursion to the banned planet Earth. Bringing back an illegal immigrant Beatrix. Unable to find the strength or conviction to kill her Clarence crafts a pantomime version of the life he so desired. Clarence receives news that his family, one of the ruling families of the Council of the Light have been assassinated, but on the advent of the news the assassins come for him. His best friend dies to protect him, Beatrix is forced to flee with him and he is swept along by people intent to take him to safety. To escape the assassins Clarence’s group help him embark on a journey to The Fortress where they believe he will be safe, unable to confide the reasons why he is so reluctant to return, Clarence’s mental health deteriorates to the point that he attempts to end his own life. Fleeing from the assassins Clarence ends up at Grovely Wood Palace, where the assassinations of his family took place. He finds proof that his mothers suicide was likely murder comissioned by his own father, and this throws him into despare. Shortly after, the assassins attack. After defeating the assassins Clarence finally makes it to The Fortress and accepts that he must now face the man he fears most, Lord Grendal, he secretly plots to abandon the woman he loves, Beatrix, fearing that she will be used against him. But he is denied entry, and forced to camp amongst a host of people pretending to be him. Clarence is racked with guilt and still unable to confide, his friends lose faith in him as he struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has come to seek safety from the man who tortured him as a child. Unwanted and unsolicited by Clarence, his friends work hard to help him gain entry and get the attention of the one man Clarence wants to avoid at all costs. Just as Clarence starts to think he will be able to leave, a man turns up to verify his identity. The gates open, Lord Grendal comes with a cohort of soldiers. Clarence pretends he cares little for his friends in an attempt to protect them. He finally has a chance to confront the man who has abused him but his own crippling self-loathing renders him mute as he is taken inside.

third attempt…

Summary

The Mighty Council of the Light preside over thousands of worlds stretching from the Central world of Joining Earth to the farthest reaches of the fringe planets, but they are under attack. Clarence O’Leary, a Leprechaun with an abusive past, wishes he would stop receiving letters from home. Following the receipt of a dreaded letter, Clarence embarks on a foolish and dangerous excursion to the banned planet Earth. Bringing back an illegal immigrant Beatrix. Unable to find the strength or conviction to kill her Clarence crafts a pantomime version of the life he so desired. Clarence receives news that his family, one of the ruling families of the Council of the Light have been assassinated, but on the advent of the news the assassins come for him. His best friend dies to protect him, Beatrix is forced to flee with him and he is swept along by people intent to take him to safety.
To escape the assassins Clarence’s group help him embark on a journey to The Fortress where they believe he will be safe, unable to confide the reasons why he is so reluctant to return, Clarence’s mental health deteriorates to the point that he attempts to end his own life. Fleeing from the assassins, Clarence ends up at Grovely Wood Palace, where the assassinations of his family took place. He finds proof that his mothers suicide was likely murder comissioned by his own father, and this throws him into despare. Shortly after, the assassins attack.
After defeating the assassins Clarence finally makes it to The Fortress and accepts that he must now face the man he fears most, Lord Grendal. He secretly plots to abandon the woman he loves, Beatrix, fearing that she will be used against him. But he is denied entry and forced to camp amongst a host of people pretending to be him. Clarence is racked with guilt and still unable to confide in his friends, they lose faith in him as he struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has returned to seek safety from the man who tortured him as a child. Unwanted and unsolicited by Clarence, his friends work hard to help him gain entry and get the attention of the one man Clarence wants to avoid at all costs. Just as Clarence starts to think he will be able to leave, a man turns up to verify his identity. The gates open, Lord Grendal comes with a cohort of soldiers. Clarence pretends he cares little for his friends in an attempt to protect them. He finally has a chance to confront the man who has abused him but his own crippling self-loathing renders him mute as he is taken inside.

Okay, I have questions. (It’s hard for me to help without better understanding the story.)
• Why does Clarence go to Earth to get Beatrix, if he’s supposed to kill her?
• What do you mean by “pantomime version of the life he so desired”?
• Why are the assassins after him and his family?
• Who takes him to safety? Does the group play any other role in the story?
• What is going on with Clarence’s mental health – why is it deteriorating?
• When did his mother commit suicide? You said earlier his family was killed by assassins. Who was killed? Is his father still alive? Did he think him dead?
• Why does he fear Lord Grendal?
• People pretending to be him? What? Why?
• Why do his friends lose faith in him for asking for help from Lord Grendal? I mean, wouldn’t they all die otherwise?
• What does being a Leprechaun have to do with any of this?
• Does this book end on a cliffhanger?

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good questions…ok…tweaking now.

You don’t necessarily have to rewrite yet. I just need to know the answers so I can help you work it in.

oops, I am tweaking though :laughing: questions answered below …

Summary

• Why does Clarence go to Earth to get Beatrix, if he’s supposed to kill her?
he goes to Earth because he’s given the opportunity. Before the opportunity arises he has no plans to go there. Beatrix jumps into his portal when he goes home, he wasn’t intending to let her come with him.

• What do you mean by “pantomime version of the life he so desired”?
Clarence is living a lie. He wants to be seen as a low born, normal, person who works in a pub, but people in Gelding Town know who he actually is and it changes how they act around him. When he realises that Beatrix doesn’t know anything about his history or his birth status he doesn’t tell her. He really enjoys that to her, he is just some guy. Even more, he likes the fact that he’s just ‘some guy’ and she likes him.

• Why are the assassins after him and his family?
His family are one of the eight ruling families of the Transworld Network and they also own the Leprechaun Bank which is the leading bank across the whole of that network, so they are very powerful, the assassins are sent by a group of people who want to destabilise the Council enough that when they start a war the Council won’t be able to react as quickly.

• Who takes him to safety? Does the group play any other role in the story?
A man called Bobbin who used to be his servant as a boy, but is now a sailor. With him is his sister Rosa who is a Witch who has premonitions. Bobbin is heavily involved with a group called the Humanists who want Human Equality, he goes to help Clarence because he thinks that Clarence may be sympathetic to his cause and help further the Human Equality agenda. There’s a lot of bad feeling between Bobbin and Clarence, that Clarence isn’t aware of, and Clarence thinks that Bobbin is being a friend to him, but he’s not.

• What is going on with Clarence’s mental health – why is it deteriorating?
He was abused by his old tutor, Grendal, on his fathers’ orders. Grendal and his father were best friends and his father left the Stewardship of the Realm to Grendal, Clarence knows that when he goes back he will have to face Grendal again and the idea of doing it brings everything he’s been suppressing back to the surface.

• When did his mother commit suicide? You said earlier his family was killed by assassins. Who was killed? Is his father still alive? Did he think him dead?
it is widely believed that his mother committed suicide when Clarence was ten but he finds proof that she was murdered by Clarence’s father so that he could marry another woman.

• People pretending to be him? What? Why?
Because he’s been gone for so long (and nobody really knows what he looks like) a lot of people think that if they look and act like Clarence they might be mistaken for him and they will become the next king. A few pretenders started to camp outside the Fortress (the citadel where the Government live) and then it became a bit of a party and was dubbed Camp Clarence.

• Why do his friends lose faith in him for asking for help from Lord Grendal? I mean, wouldn’t they all die otherwise?
They lose faith in him because of how disassociated he becomes. Beatrix feels he’s shutting her out and she knows he plans to leave her, but she keeps telling herself that it won’t happen. Bobbin realises that Clarence isn’t strong enough to champion an agenda as unpopular as Human Equality so he writes him off as a lost cause and starts to think of other ways, but even though they have written him off they still want him on the throne so they nosy around trying to get peoples attention as Clarence does nothing and just hopes that it all goes away.

• What does being a Leprechaun have to do with any of this?
Birthright and status and unlocking future plot points, the ability to jump between worlds comes in quite handy later on too.

• Does this book end on a cliffhanger?
Yes.

This sounds really fun! Let me noodle on how best to organize this.

I’ll tell you up front, though – ending on a cliffhanger will likely be a problem for traditional publishing. They buy one book at a time. First books from debut authors usually need to stand alone, even if it’s the beginning of a series.

Okay, here’s what I came up with. This is 399 words, so you still have 100 words or so to play with. I have no doubt that I misunderstood things here and there.

Summary

CLARENCE O'LEARY finds life tedious as a member of one of the eight ruling families of the Transworld Network. He dreams of being just a regular guy, but his birth status surrounds him with yes-men and supplicants. When offered the opportunity to travel to the banned planet Earth, he jumps at it, but he doesn't expect an illegal immigrant named BEATRIX to jump into his portal on the way home.

Clarence should kill her, but after the horrors he saw on Earth, he can’t bring himself to do so. Instead, seduced by the allure of a woman who doesn’t know his background, he attempts to create the regular life he always wanted. But he discovers his real life isn’t so easy to escape when he finds out his family has been assassinated and now believed to be in line for king, he himself is now being hunted.

Clarence now has to go on the run, but he isn’t alone. With him are Beatrix; BOBBIN, a humanist and a pirate with dreams of Human Equality; and Bobbin’s sister, ROSA, a witch who suffers from premonitions. The group realizes the only place they may be safe is The Fortress, but Clarence has personal reasons to dread requesting sanctuary from its leader, LORD GRENDAL.

As they make their way from world to world, Clarence discovers more about the plot to kill him and more about the treachery within his own family. That and the stress of facing Lord Grendal send Clarence into a mental tailspin and create discord within the group. Unable to confide in his friends and fearing Lord Grendal will use Beatrix against him, Clarence disassociates from the group and plots to abandon her.

Upon reaching The Fortress, Clarence finds that his name doesn’t grant him entry, so the group takes refuge among others seeking refuge there. To his shock, many there are pretending to be him, next in line for the throne. Clarence is torn: his friends still don’t know who he is, and this could be how he escapes his life for good.

But even as he struggles to act, the decision his made for him. Lord Grendal comes to the camp and recognizes him. Attempting to protect his friends, Clarence pretends to care little for them. His moment to confront Lord Grendal has come, but his self-loathing renders him mute, and he is dragged into the castle.

THE FOOL is the first of five fantasy novels.

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Oooh good advice. I think it does stand on its own in that Clarences story arc is rounded off nicely so I might be able to craft it so it’s more a one off book. I’ll have a think about the ending. :slight_smile:

This reads so much better! You’ve managed to hook in all the main plot points and I like the reordering of the middle to introduce Bobbin and Rosa, I’ve really been struggling to do that.

Thank you so much for your support @XimeraGrey I feel like I’ve learned a lot from this exercise, but I think I still have a little way to go before my manuscript sings enough to send it in. I’ll work on the ending to make it it’s own entity a bit more before I attempt to self publish, let’s give it six months and see!

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Don’t be afraid to use the synopsis as a way to experiment with the story’s organization. Since you’re not ready to query, you’re not limited to one page. So play with it, and see what works,

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