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I recently had a literary agent ask for a synopsis of my latest novel, Code Name: Fountain of Youth. I shuttered! This is not an easy task. For starters, my manuscript contains 389 pages. How in the heck can I summarize this puppy into one or two pages?
The first thing I did was look up the definition. It read: A synopsis conveys the narrative arc...an explanation of the problem or plot...the characters...how the book ends and who changes from the beginning to the end of the story. It should include the characters feelings and emotions!
Start with a strong paragraph identifying your protagonist problems, conflict and setting.
Next, convey major plot turns or conflict necessary and any characters necessary to make sense.
Finally, indicate how major conflicts are resolved in the last paragraph.
Easy, peasy right?
So, here's what I'm thinking...I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Perhaps we can help each other out. What do you think?
Okay...here it is. Tell me what you think.
Code Name: Fountain of Youth – Synopsis
Steve Hunt is a successful sales representative for a software company by the name of Kindrick Innovations, located in the Silicon Valley. Kindrick develops top-secret software programs for the United States Defense Department.
Today is Steve’s birthday; he just turned 40. As a gift to himself, he’s taking a month off and flying to Scottsdale to purchase a vintage Corvette Stingray at a Barrett Jackson car auction. He plans on cruising Route 66 all the way to Chicago.
He doesn’t know it yet but he’ll never make it; in fact, he won’t get past Holbrook, Arizona, a mere 175 miles away. There’s something up ahead around the next bend that’s about to turn his dream vacation into a nightmare.
That ‘something’ is a person, who goes by the name of Cliff Redmond. In less than 30 seconds Steve will run into him at over 100 miles per hour! This unfortunate accident not only changes Steve’s vacation plans but also sets off an unbelievable chain of events he could never imagine...which is the thrust of my novel, Code Name: Fountain of Youth.
As the reader turns the pages of this mystery, they’ll discover along with Steve, there’s something rather odd about this fellow. He was twenty something when Steve picked him up off the asphalt and lifted him into his car, but now 30 minutes later as Steve speeds into the parking lot of Holbrook General Hospital, the man appears to be about 85 years old...an enigma to be certain. Steve also has a hard time trying to figure out where that blue flash of light came from when he plowed into Cliff out on the highway.
The next morning while eating breakfast in a nearby diner, Steve is approached by a young barefoot woman who identifies herself as Shelly, the dead man’s wife. Feeling a great deal of remorse, Steve invites her to sit down with him. She has the fragrance of lavender. He’s strangely attracted to her. After questioning Steve as to his reason for being in town, Shelly explains that Cliff was running from a hit-man, which is how he ended up in the middle of the highway. She then begins babbling about a government facility where she and her friends worked, back in 1955.
“This woman must be crazy!!” Steve thinks to himself. “This isn’t possible, she doesn’t appear to be more than 21 years old.”
“They were conducting secret experiments!” she espouses. “There was an explosion and about 40 people died. Cliff, me and some co-workers were the only ones to survive. We’ve all been living, actually hiding, in a secluded compound out in the middle of the desert.” She then leans across the table and whispers the most incredible thing Steve’s ever heard. “None of us have aged in over 50 years!”
“Yeah...right.” Steve thinks to himself.
Shelly nervously tries to convince Steve that this hit-man has already killed many of her friends. “There’s only a few of us left. I think he works for the government. We need your help!”
“Whoa! I’m a salesman...not a superhero!” Steve runs out of the diner and back to the motel where he’s staying. Three days later when his car comes out of the body shop he heads back home to Northern California and leaves this strange set of events behind him...or so he thinks. What he doesn’t know is, he’s being followed.
Within a week of his returning to his job, he unexpectedly gets fired. Three months later, still unemployed, nearly broke, depressed and in danger of loosing his house, Steve turns to an old friend...alcohol. While in a drunken stupor, Steve gets beaten up in an alley of a local bar. The thugs steal his wallet and Corvette, then deposits him in a nearby dumpster where’s he’s nearly crushed to death.
Days later after being released from the hospital, Tarack, the manager of the hotel where he stayed in Holbrook and close friend of Shelly, locates Steve and convinces him to go back to Arizona.
Realizing he has no life and having thought about Shelly more than once lately, he returns and takes up the challenge of trying to locate a psychopathic killer!
The path to capture or eliminate this maniac takes all three of them on a winding road riddled with uncertainty and danger. Toward the end, the hunters become the hunted and are dragged to an abandoned gold mine where they are faced with extinction. An almost miraculous event occurs however, which questions who, if anyone will survive.
Yes, Bob, I agree, collegiality is of great importance ...
OOOh I want to try...on my way to my writing group but will return tomorrow (hopefully) to read and post.
That was an interesting read. I may have to agree with Roland, it was a tad wordy.
This is a short version, or Blurb of my novel The Red Demons:
Transported through a wormhole, IT specialist Craig Buffett, encounters a world foreign to him. A devastated landscape. Creatures that thrive on human blood. And a town fighting for normalcy.
Michael Olay runs SimTek an organisation that produced wormhole accessibility. A militia is hell-bent on destroying this technology. A dark secret lurks in Lab 7, and the wormhole technology is unravelling.
Deception, hate, anger, vengeance and altered time lines can tear a soul apart. Fight or flight. It's a decision that will change Craig’s life.
WW3 was purgatory. This time it’s going to be Hell.
What an agent asked for (why do they take forever and a day to reply?):
The Red Demons is a science fantasy tale about Craig Buffett, an IT specialist sucked into a wormhole in 2016 and transported to a post WW3 world, where the world he knows is gone and genetically modified soldiers follow the commands of Major Olay, a man with visions to build a new world under his control.
Craig is rescued from the "soldiers" and taken to Havelock Grove, a walled off community under the control of Caden Creighton, a leader with dark secrets that will destroy everything he worked hard to create--including his beloved town.
Considered a spy, Craig is locked in a jail cell and questioned. Naturally he believes he has been captured by a bunch of hippy-commune crazies. That is, until the "soldiers" attack and he is forced to defend himself.
Craig finds allies in Havelock Grove who begin to believe his story. They agree to take him to SimTek, the company with the wormhole generator, and under the control of Major Olay.
The road trip is not without dangers and Craig kills his first human in self defence. Craig has never defended himself in his timeline and over the course of 10 days he finds himself changing, adjusting to this world and finding deep inside himself a will to do what needs to be done. Not just to survive but to save the world.
Making it back to 2016, after a battle with the Red Time Demons, the warrior part of him is strong and he decides to set right the future by dealing with the now. The wormhole generator cannot become reality, and he knows the person who must be stopped.
But this is not self defence and it is not for survival. Can he find the power to make one more kill for the world, for the future, and for himself?
Yes, he can, and easily.
Two years later and life is good. There is no threat of nuclear war. Heading to the gym, he is suddenly back on the time bridge and the Red Demons group around him. They drop a dead comrade at his feet.
Thanks Lee. Your book sounds very interesting as well. I really like how you crafted the short version. Bob
Thanks Bob. It took about 2 days.
I think what the agent is telling you is " My time is so valuable and I really can't be arsed to read your story, so tell me in half a page why I should bother, before tell you not to give up your day job"!
Yup, sounds about right, Merlin.
Good advice! Thank you Roland.
Found this. Might be of help: