Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Synopsis 13


Frederica and the Heir to the Underworld (Goes with the query in Face-Lift 510)

FREDERICA (Freddy) is having a crappy week: a hot guy on a horse nearly runs her over, her dad’s lying to her, and the Wild Hunt, otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game, have invaded her neighborhood. [Actually, once otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game invade your neighborhood, other stuff isn't worth complaining about.]

The hot guy, POLYDEGMON (Deg), isn’t so bad. He asks Freddy out, but her dad, COLIN, walks in on them mid-make out session, [This sounds like it happens right after Deg asks her out, rather than after their date. Something like He takes her dancing, but her dad later walks in . . . would make it clear.] beats the snot out of Deg, and tells Freddy to stay away from the guy. Colin knows Deg’s no-good, but he won’t tell Freddy what’s so bad about her date. Sick of being left out of the loop, Freddy follows Deg to get answers.

Freddy finds Deg, [Finding someone isn't so hard when you're already following him: There he is! Up ahead!] but the Wild Hunt captures them. Colin comes to rescue Freddy, but then she must save him from becoming hell hound chow. Freddy trades her life to save Deg and Colin. The Hunt’s Leader, CERNUNNOS, agrees to let them go. Freddy, he carries back to his home-world. [I took "trades her life" to mean she dies. Turns out she's just going on a tour.]

Cernunnos’ Hunt and the Olympian gods are near war. Cernunnos hopes to make peace by marrying Freddy to an Olympian. When Freddy asks why her, Cernunnos reveals he is her real father. [Is her mother her real mother? If so, how did her mother happen to give birth to the child of the leader of a gang of human-hunting cutthroats?] Come dinnertime, Freddy reunites with Deg- and meets his father: Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Instead of Deg, Cernunnos betroths her to Deg’s brother. Cernunnos threatens to hurt Freddy’s parents if she does anything to screw up her marriage. [In-laws. At least mine waited till after the wedding to threaten my parents.] Later, Cernunnos’ wife, MACHA, insulted by her husband’s bastard, attempts to strangle Freddy. The Wild Hunt fights her off, but, for her own safety, Freddy is sent to Hades’ Underworld at once. [You know things are bad when that's the safest place they can find for you.]

Deg offers to take Freddy home. Remembering Cernunnos’ threats, Freddy refuses. She attempts to make the best of her new life in the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, her fiancé, after a failed attempt to seduce Freddy, tries to rape her. ["Unfortunately" doesn't seem like a strong enough word.

Woman: Someone tried to rape me.

Cop: Well gee, that's unfortunate.]

Freddy fights him off, and Deg arrives in time to stop her from killing her fiancé. [She has the power to kill the son of Hades? She's a teenage girl.] Deg convinces Freddy to leave the Underworld.

At Freddy’s home, they discover Macha kidnapped Colin. Freddy runs to rescue her dad, and deg reluctantly follows. They infiltrate Cernunnos’ camp and rescue Colin. Macha catches them, but one of Cernunnos’ people kills her. [If you're one of Cerunnos's people, and you kill his wife, how much longer will you be one of Cerunnos's people?

Cerunnos's man: Hmm, my brutal leader's wife, Macha, just caught someone infiltrating our camp. How should I handle this? I know, I'll kill Macha.]


Cernunnos reveals he meant to protect Freddy from Macha’s assassination attempts through the marriage. He leaves Freddy with Colin, but promises if Freddy ever needs help, he will come.

After the dust settles, Deg and Freddy talk and decide to give their relationship a go.


Notes

This isn't doing the job. The first two paragraphs have some life, but after that it's mostly just a confusing list of things that happen. It reads like the notes you wrote to yourself before you started writing the novel. Connect some ideas with cause and effect, reasons, transitions. Inject some life. You're telling a story (in summary form), not outlining it.

You might want to mention that Cernunnos is a god. Calling him an otherworldly cutthroat doesn't necessarily make it clear he's powerful enough to capture the son of Hades, who I assume has powers of his own.

We need to know the power rankings. Cernunnos is able to capture Deg, Colin is able to beat the snot out of Deg and Freddy is able to fight off Deg's brother. One gets the impression the sons of Hades are 98-pound weaklings.

As the daughter of a god, does Freddy have powers? If so, has she ever noticed them?

18 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

I like paragraph one, but like EE says the rest isn't doing the job. Please post a revised version when you get all the feedback!

BuffySquirrel said...

So the Wild Hunt are cut-throats now?

*mutters*

Jan said...

Good on you for putting this out there. I'm with EE in thinking more cause and effect is needed to make the stakes and the plot arc clearer. I would love to know

*why Cernunnos brings Freddy back to his world to protect her, when Macha is in his world. The stakes on her personal jeopardy would be made clearer if you included why staying with Colin wasn't an option for her any more (from Cernunnos' point of view).

*why Cernunnos wouldn't tell Freddy the truth about her real danger. (Especially if it's related to what he thought her reaction would be, because then we'd also get a clearer picture of Freddy's character.)

*why the Olympian betrothal had to be to Deg's brother rather than to Deg. You don't want anything that seems random in there!

Also, was there ever a war at all? The second-last paragraph reads (to me) as if Cernunnos invented the war and betrothal as part of his highly complex machinations to protect Freddy. Is the main arc of the story Freddy figuring out what her dad(s) is(are) up to?

Moth said...

Did you have something you wanted to share, BuffySquirrel?

BuffySquirrel said...

No, no, I'm almost inured now to my heritage being appropriated, twisted, and sold back to me :).

chelsea said...

"Freddy fights him off, and Deg arrives in time to stop her from killing her fiancé."

Why would Deg stop her? I mean, the guy tries to rape her, and Deg's reaction is to restrain HER?

"After the dust settles, Deg and Freddy talk and decide to give their relationship a go."

This feels anti-climactic. They have a friendly chat, shrug and decide to go on a second date? I think "begin their destined love affair" or something to that effect might be a stronger ending. But that could just be me.

Phoenix said...

Hey Moth, you did get this shorter than the one over at COM :o)

However, yeah, while it starts off promising, it does wind up a bit dull and listy. Sarah L did a nice little synop in the COM comments that doesn't tell YOUR story and that's too long for EE's word count here, but I do suggest you read it a couple of times. Get a sense of the pacing and the storytelling rhythm. Then, quite simply - *wink at simply* - apply that here. Yes, you're selling plot -- but you do have to make the plot interesting, something someone is eager to read rather than something where all the struggle you felt in writing it comes through in reading it. It's a delicate balance, but I think you have the writing skills to pull it off.

Please do post your revise!

Moth said...

Working on revising this and I will post a new version, but in the meantime if anyone's interested in the longer synopsis it was, as Phoenix mentioned, up on COM a few weeks ago:

http://crapometer.blogspot.com/2009/02/synopsis.html

Writing synopses is like tearing my hair out so all help is much appreciated. :)

Moth said...

And here is the revised version at last. At first I attempted to keep to the 400 word limit but then, wishing to salvage my sanity, I kept it to under a page in MS word. Especially help me with tightening please. And thanks in advance to anyone who takes a second look at this for me. :)

Synopsis

FREDERICA (Freddy) is having a crappy week: a hot guy on a horse nearly runs her over, her dad’s lying to her, and the Wild Hunt, a pack of otherworldly ruffians has invaded her neighborhood.

The hot guy, POLYDEGMON (Deg), isn’t so bad. He takes Freddy on a fun date to make amends, but her dad, COLIN, catches them mid-kiss. Colin beats Deg up, and tells Freddy to stay away from him. Colin knows Deg’s no-good, but he won’t tell Freddy what’s so bad about her date.

Sick of being left out of the loop, Freddy seeks out Deg to get some answers. She finds him, but then they are both captured by the Wild Hunt. Colin comes to rescue her, but then Freddy must save him from becoming hell hound chow. The Leader of the Hunt, CERNUNNOS, agrees to let Deg and Colin go, but Freddy must accompany the god back to his otherworldly realm.

Once there Cernunnos explains that his Hunt and the Olympian gods are near war. He hopes to make peace by marrying Freddy to an Olympian. When she asks why her, Cernunnos reveals he is her real father.

Come dinnertime, Freddy reunites with Deg- and meets his father: Hades, Lord of the Olympian Underworld. Deg, it turns out, is the Heir to the Underworld, but Freddy’s only a lowly demi-god. Instead of the boy of her dreams, Cernunnos betroths Freddy to Deg’s half-blooded brother. Cernunnos threatens to hurt Freddy’s parents if she does anything to screw up her marriage.

After dinner, Cernunnos’ wife, MACHA, insulted by the presence of her husband’s bastard, attacks Freddy. The Wild Hunt fights the goddess off, but, for her own safety, Freddy is sent to Hades’ Underworld at once. Deg offers to take Freddy home. Cernunnos’ threats still echoing in her head, Freddy refuses him.

In the days before her wedding, Freddy makes the best of her new life in the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a wine-sodden perv who cares less about their marriage than he does the wedding night. After a failed attempt to seduce Freddy, he tries to rape her. Freddy fights him off and knocks him outs. Deg arrives and convinces Freddy to leave the Underworld.

At her home, they discover Macha has kidnapped Colin. Freddy and Deg run to rescue him. They infiltrate Cernunnos’ camp and free Colin. Macha catches them, but is accidentally stabbed in their struggle to escape. Following Macha’s death, Cernunnos calls off his Hunt. He reveals he meant to protect Freddy from Macha’s assassination attempts through the marriage. In the Underworld, Macha would never have been able to kill Freddy. Cernunnos leaves Freddy with Colin, but promises if Freddy ever needs help, he will come.

Deg returns to the Underworld to placate Hades, but promises Freddy if he can return to her he will. A month later, during Freddy’s belated Sweet 16 party, Deg shows up on the horse again. He and Freddy share a passionate kiss and decide to give their relationship a go as they ride off together into the sunset.

talpianna said...

This is very confusing as the mythologies don't match. In Celtic myth, Cernunnos IS the Lord of the Underworld as well as the Horned God. So essentially he's the same being as Hades, though the Greek and Celtic concepts of their character differ. Your story makes me understand better why my archaeologist friend gets annoyed with modern fiction that co-opts the ancient gods. By trying to fit them into a "just us guys" model, you lose too much of their essence. It's like that TV commercial I've been seeing in which Abraham Lincoln beats Stephen Douglas to a pulp instead of debating him.

Moth said...

@talpianna: I guess I don't see how it's so confusing that the different underworlds are separate places and, therefore, the gods are separate.

I've never really gotten the argument against "mixing" pantheons in fiction actually. *as evidenced by my MS*

writtenwyrdd said...

I wrote a nice long comment this morning but blogger had a brain fart and ate it upon trying to post. I'll rewrite it when I get the chance.

Jan said...

Thanks for answering my questions! Much clearer. Best luck.

Dave F. said...

The names confuse me. As I read it the clash between Freddy, Cernunos, Caracas, Macha, and Polydegmon being DEG just destroy my concentration. (Yeah, I know Caracas never appeared in the story but that's just how disruptive the names are to me)...

"Ruffians" doesn't cut it for me when naming or describing beings from Hades. It's like the Muppets version of demons, or the Marx Brothers version -- too inept to be seriously evil.

Cernunnos and his wife Macha completely jumped the couch and twittered my (censored). Honest, they just done me in! His wife hates his illegitimate (bastard usually refers to a male) daughter. That hits from nowhere.
And then, Cernunnos suggest marrying the drunken clod son of an Olympian god who can't figure out how to seduce Freddy and SHE AGREES!

Why does she agree? What, (as method actors ask), What is her motivation? She'd fifteen years old, never known her real father, being romanced by a demon, Seen her Stepfather almost killed by her jealous, wicked stepmother,
and yet, and yet, and yet,
she agrees to marry a Clod from the gods who can't keep his fiddly bits under control? If anyone thinks I'm being too hard on this guy, think again. He's a demi-god or full-blooded god and he gets drunk enough to let a 15 year old girl beat him up while he's tried to rape her? I've heard of 97 pound weaklings but this guy should have his testicles recalled and his six active brain cells checked into kindergarten.

Is it me or has this 15 year old (granted a month from 16) completely lost all common sense, her mind, her virginity? Somewhere in this synopsis you missed her motivation. I suspect that she's threatened by her demon father, awed by DEG's charming (or maybe he's just a studmuffin) and a tiny bit rebellious of authority, any authority?
Isn't there the least little bit of passion or struggle in her? Doesn't she want to save her stepdad and possibly date DEG?

I'm just puzzled by all of this.

macaronipants said...

FREDERICA (Freddy) is having a crappy week: a hot guy on a horse nearly runs her over, her dad’s lying to her, and the Wild Hunt, a pack of otherworldly ruffians has invaded her neighborhood.

The hot guy, POLYDEGMON (Deg), TAKES Freddy on a date to make amends, but WHEN her dad, COLIN, catches them mid-kiss, HE GOES BALLISTIC. AFTER BEATING DEG UP, COLIN REFUSES TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF TO FREDDY.

Sick of being IGNORED, Freddy seeks out Deg FOR answers. She finds him, but then they are captured by the Wild Hunt. WHEN Colin comes to rescue her, IT ALL GOES HORRIBLY WRONG. ALL THREE OF THEM ARE ABOUT TO BECOME hell hound chow WHEN THE LEADER OF THE HUNT, CERNUNNOS, AGREES TO LET COLIN AND DEG GO, BUT ONLY IF FREDDY WILL ACCOMPANY THE GOD to his otherworldly realm. SEEING NO CHOICE, SHE AGREES.

Once there Cernunnos explains that his Hunt and the Olympian gods are near war. He hopes to make peace by marrying Freddy to an Olympian. When she asks why, Cernunnos reveals he is her father.

Come dinnertime, Freddy reunites with Deg- and meets his father: Hades, Lord of the Olympian Underworld. Deg, it turns out, is the Heir to the Underworld, but Freddy’s only a lowly demi-god. Instead of the boy of her dreams, Cernunnos betroths Freddy to Deg’s half-brother. Cernunnos threatens to hurt Freddy’s parents if she does anything to screw up her marriage.

After dinner, Cernunnos’ wife, MACHA, insulted by the presence of her husband’s bastard, attacks Freddy. The Wild Hunt fights the goddess off, but, for her own safety, Freddy is sent to Hades’ Underworld at once. Deg offers to take Freddy home. Cernunnos’ threats still echoing in her head, Freddy refuses.

In the days before her wedding, Freddy TRIES TO MAKE the best of her new life in the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a wine-sodden perv who cares less about their marriage than he does the wedding night. After a failed attempt to seduce Freddy, he tries to rape her. Freddy fights him off. Deg arrives and convinces Freddy to leave the Underworld.

At her home, they discover Macha has kidnapped Colin. WHY? DOESN'T MACHA WANT TO BE RID OF FREDDY? IT MAKES MORE SENSE THAT CERNUNNOS WOULD CARRY THROUGH ON HIS THREAT Freddy and Deg infiltrate Cernunnos’ camp and free Colin. Macha catches them, but is accidentally stabbed in their struggle to escape. Following Macha’s death, Cernunnos WOULD BE PISSED! calls off his Hunt. He reveals he meant to protect Freddy from Macha’s assassination attempts through the marriage. In the Underworld, Macha would never have been able to kill Freddy. Cernunnos leaves Freddy with Colin, but promises if Freddy ever needs help, he will come. THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE WITH THE STORY SO FAR. IF CERNUNNOS IS SO KIND HEARTED, WHY IS HE FORCING HER TO MARRY AGAINST HER WILL? WHY THREATEN HER EARTHLY PARENTS? MAYBE IT MAKES SENSE IN THE STORY, BUT YOU NEED TO HAVE IT MAKE SENSE HERE TOO.

Deg returns to the Underworld to placate Hades, but promises Freddy if he can return to her he will. A month later, during Freddy’s belated Sweet 16 party, Deg shows up on the horse again. He and Freddy share a passionate kiss and decide to give their relationship a go as they ride off together into the sunset. I THINK YOU CAN ONLY PULL OFF THIS KIND OF CLICHE IF THE WRITING IS EXCELLENT.

I still think there is lots you can do to shorten this. A synopsis is more a cross between overview and dust jacket copy. I think you have too many details and oddly enough, the details make it less tantalizing.

batgirl said...

Okay, here's my shot at a rewrite, because nothing is more tempting than messing with someone else's words:

FREDERICA's week begins badly when she's almost run over by a horseman. On the plus side, DEG (short for Polydegmon) is hot and takes her for a fun date. On the downside, Freddy's dad COLIN goes crazy when he catches her with Deg, beating him up and telling Freddy to stay away from him for her own good. That's all he tells her, so Freddy goes looking for some answers herself. Her week gets a lot worse when the Wild Hunt (yes, _that_ Wild Hunt) captures her and Deg. Colin's attempted rescue ends with him a prisoner as well.
CERNUNNOS, Leader of the Wild Hunt, gives Freddy more answers than she's ready for: the Celtic and Olympian gods are on the verge of war; Deg is the son of Hades, and he, Cernunnos, is her real father. If Freddy will agree to marry Hades' _other_ son as a peace offering, Cernunnos will let Colin and Deg go.
Freddy agrees, figuring her life has hit rock-bottom (even if she's really a demi-goddess, which is kind of cool).
But in the Underworld things can always go downhill. To save her from an attack by MACHA, Cernunnos' jealous wife, Freddy is shipped straight off to Hades, where her wine-sodden fiance tries ineptly to seduce her before the wedding, then even more ineptly, to rape her. When Freddy knocks him out, Deg arrives, and she quickly agrees to leave with him. Her escape is derailed by a rescue attempt: Macha has kidnapped Colin as bait for Freddy, and Freddy and Deg must infiltrate Cernunnos' camp to save him. In the struggle, Macha is killed. Freddy and her party expect death at the hands and teeth of the Wild Hunt, but to their astonishment, Cernunnos calls the Hunt off.
He had sent Freddy to Hades to protect her from Macha, but his late wife's vindictiveness brought about her own destruction; he holds Freddy blameless and will let her go to her former world. As for the political marriage to Hades' son, maybe Deg would be a better candidate, since he's the real Heir to the Underworld? Deg returns to his father, hoping to placate him, and Freddy and Colin try to adjust to life in the 'real world'.
During Freddy's belated Sweet 16 party, a hot horseman rides in and scoops Freddy up into his arms. It's Deg, and they share a passionate kiss. This week is beginning a lot better.

Moth said...

Thanks, batgirl. I think with some tweaking your version will work pretty well.

Have I reached my limit on revisions or shall I post this next go?

batgirl said...

Moth, I think you can keep revising but I'm not sure how many minions will check back here - maybe EE will goose it again, though.