Thursday, October 21, 2010

If you were an agent would this rock your world?

Without further Ado I present the synopsis we have up for constructive crit today. Our friend L'aussie has graciously taken a bold step, I should point out that this is her first attempt.

What if, for most of your life, you’ve had a dream? You’ve never wavered from the necessary steps to reaching your goal. It’s not that you think you’re better than anyone else or more focused, but you’ve made promises which you must keep. The culmination of being true to these promises is ultimately reaching your goal.
Having lost everything you hold dear in your home country, you move to a foreign country where you plan to make your dreams come true. You find the town you want to live in, you find the property you want to buy; at last, you are making positive steps to realise the fulfilment of your dreams.
Then one day, when your dreams are falling neatly into place, you relax and give yourself a day off. You join a whale-watching expedition on the sleek tourist boat, the Eco Pacific, and head for the oceans off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to meet whales in the wild.
You meet more than whales. You meet the man of your dreams, but the timing is all wrong for you. There are choices to make. You know this is a crucial crossroad in your life. Which way will you go?
This is what happens to the main character, Angelique (Ruby) Beaulieu, a Titan-tressed, green-eyed beauty. In all her twenty-three years Ruby has been a model daughter to her French parents. Growing up in Paris, holidaying in the South of France, studying at the Sorbonne; this was her life of charm.
But her life wasn’t all charm, as when she was six, she lost her mother. Ruby was extremely close to her father from then on; they had one of those ‘two of us against the world’ close-knit types of relationships.
Ruby and her father shared a dream, but her father didn’t live to see it fulfilled. Ruby continues to pursue their shared dream after his death in a plane crash when he was flying back to France from Australia. The dream, which is now Ruby’s, is to own and operate a boutique hotel – not in France – but in Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
To the reader Noosa may seem an odd choice for a Frenchman, but Ruby’s father originally wanted a property in Bandol in the South of France where he spent the final family holiday before Ruby’s mother died. When this was unachievable due to French property laws, he set his sights on Australia, specifically Noosa, which reminded him of Bandol.
Ruby’s vision of owning her own hotel has meant up until now Ruby has denied herself many pleasures, chiefly love and romance. She has such a strong connection with her dead father that she has avoided anything or anyone that might hinder her quest – but she finds her resolve wavering when she meets the gorgeous Australian sea captain, Michael Asher when whale watching on his boat, the Eco Pacific. When she and Michael meet, the air crackles between them. Both of them feel a jolt which destabilises their once-ordered existence.
Ruby’s immaturity in matters of the heart, coupled with the secrets of the much more worldly thirty-year-old Michael, threaten the relationship from the start, with firstly Ruby, then Michael, pulling back from their undeniable mutual attraction. Their pulling back is the result of a shared insecurity and secrets neither feels ready to share with the other.
First, Ruby has a health problem – she battles the stringencies and dangers of having Type 1 diabetes – a condition she tries to hide from Michael due to her independent nature and wishing to appear ‘normal and uncomplicated’ to this man.
Second, Michael has a past addiction to alcohol which he has ‘overcome.’ He has zero tolerance for drugs of any kind and he soon suspects Ruby is abusing drugs following a tip off from Jimmie, his aboriginal friend and co-owner with him of the restaurant where Ruby and Michael share their first meal.
Michael’s past relationship with Kylie, the feisty waitress, also causes some angst, but Michael assures Ruby the relationship was fleeting and is well in the past despite Kylie’s jealous barbs.
Ruby’s secret can’t be hidden for long and Michael discovers Ruby’s struggle with her health in a most alarming way. Ruby literally falls at his feet and needs medical attention. Her secret is out. Now Michael knows she needs drugs to survive. Michael is very solicitous and swears to the doctor that he will attend to Ruby’s needs.
The shared knowledge of Ruby’s condition draws them closer together and it seems as if they will make it as a couple. Michael opens up to Ruby and shares some of the traumas of his childhood – his alcoholic mother and his absent father – things he has shared with no one else.
Their relationship seems to be building into one of mutual love and trust, when Ruby discovers Michael has dreams of his own he hasn’t shared with her.
Staying at Michael’s cottage while recuperating from her fall, Ruby comes across Michael’s notes and books which reveal his dream to join the fight against the Japanese whalers just getting underway for the season in the Great Southern Ocean – south of Australia.
As one who understands and believes in the preciousness of following your dreams, Ruby ends the burgeoning relationship as she knows Michael’s deep feelings for her will not permit him to leave her. She also fears she is becoming too dependent on his strength which makes her uncomfortable as she has always fought her own battles. There is no way she can see their individual dreams merging.
The parting scene is heart-wrenching, with Ruby very nearly surrendering to Michael’s charms, but she maintains her independence, sending Michael on his way, convincing him that she does not return his love. She forces them apart, feeling this is her only choice. She puts Michael’s dreams before her own needs, mistakenly thinking she knows what’s best for Michael himself, not giving Michael the chance to know why she does what she does.
Heartbroken and angry, Michael joins the huge black hulk, the Sea Shepherd ship, the ‘whale-saving terrorists,’ according to the Japanese, and embarks from Melbourne on his long-held ambition to help save the whales. As he hops on board at the last minute, all the jobs are taken. He is given the job of writing the ship’s blog.
Meanwhile, Ruby’s first hotel guests arrive, along with the hot Japanese owner-skipper of Michael’s boat. Izuru Ito falls hard for Ruby and woos her incessantly right from their first meeting when Ruby discovers Ito was a whale hunter back in Japan. She and her other guests react angrily to this news, but in a heartfelt speech Ito explains his conversion to the other side.
Ruby feels an undeniable attraction to Ito, but as he pressures her into a relationship she is constantly torn with dreams of Michael and what might have been.
Michael, meanwhile, has found more than whales on his Sea Shepherd tour of duty. The bosun of the vessel, the beautiful Asian, Shelly Wang, comes to Michael one night, interrupting his dreams of Ruby. He makes love to her in a dream-like state, at first believing she is Ruby. The harsh reality that he’d been seduced by someone who doesn’t share his ideal of sex and love is a bitter realisation and sours his whale-saving mission.
Michael finds himself retreating into himself, something he did as a child when dealing with the trauma of living with his alcoholic mother and missing his absent father and now he settles down to complete his mission without the vigour he first had.
While Michael is chasing the whale hunters around the icebergs of Antarctica, Ruby faces huge battles of her own. The hotel is up and running smoothly and she is attracted to Ito. She is ready to surrender to Ito’s charms when his wife Chie arrives unexpectedly and mortifies Ruby with a terrible scene at a ball Ito had arranged at her hotel. Ito is spirited back to Japan by his steely wife.
Ruby is suffering on many fronts – she is humiliated by the flirtation with Ito, she knows she has ruined her chance of happiness with Michael and she worries about him in the dangerous environment. This is her blackest moment, she thinks.
However, just when she feels things can’t get any worse, her hotel is badly damaged in a fire set off in the kitchen by her French chef Montague (Monty) Clouitier.
The hotel fire is the point of high drama, but everyone survives, even though the damage is significant and Ruby’s heroic efforts to save Monty nearly cost her her life. She suffers some smoke inhalation and just makes it out of the burning rooms in time.
Michael arrives back off the ship, having heard of the disaster of the fire. He is consumed with fears for Ruby and runs to her. After a near-tragic reconciliation where Ruby suffers a life-threatening ‘hypo’ attack related to her diabetes, they confess their true love for each other, and look towards a shared future. They will share their dreams from this moment on.
Michael buys Ito’s boat and the rebuilding of Ruby’s hotel becomes a joint venture, with the story ending on a joyous note when they realise that dreams are meant to be shared.


  1. Let me go 1st. For a 1st attempt and a pantser you have done extremely well with the length (6pages) but I would still shorten it some more.
    I would also get rid of all the what if questions on the 1st page and just start summarizing from chapter1.
    I shall send the rest to you by email

  2. I'm not an agent, but I think your story sounds interesting. :)

  3. I've never written one so this is all above my head but one thing I read when writing a synopsis, you should capitalize the character's name when first mentioned. I don't know if that's true or not but other than that, I love the theme and the length.

  4. I like the synopsis, and I think the book sounds interesting, but I’d say the beginning of it is a bit dragged out. I’ve only written one synopsis in my life so maybe I’m not the right person to give advice, but I did enough research on the topic. Editors and agents don’t have lots of time so they like the synopsis to be straight forward and to the point. Otherwise, I can’t wait for it to get published so that I could read it. Best of luck!!!

  5. The story sounds very compelling. I thought synopsis has to be 20-50 words?

  6. @ Madeleine the advised length is usually between 2-5 pages, it might still be advisable to go up to 10 pages but I like to play it safe.

  7. With synopses, like queries, less is more. Your first sentence needs to be killer. I don't advise starting with a question. That said, your query doesn't start to rock until the fourth paragraph. You've got to get into the action a lot quicker. Eliminate all the background stuff--what is your story about? Work on trying to boil your synopsis down to 2-3 double-spaced pages tops, but remember that with a synopsis (unlike a query) you have to reveal the ending. Make every sentence count. And I agree with everyone else: the story sounds very intriguing! But you need to write a synopsis that will have the agent/editor begging you to send the manuscript.

    My two cents, for what it's worth. :-)

  8. I love the flow to this and the very clear prose. I was a bit thrown off by the use of second person in the opening paragraphs -- I think it would be stronger without that. I also think there are few phrases that could be taken out... i.e., 'the scene is heart-wrenching' - this is a bit too much tell for me.

    But those are minor details! I love the sound of the story! Good luck and great job, l'Aussie!

  9. For her first attempt, she has definitely rocked my world. A few editing here and there and she is on the road to authordom.

  10. Great job on your first try, L'Aussie!

    My thoughts for what they're worth:

    • Delete the first page. Your story should start at the inciting moment. What do you think that is? Getting the hotel? Meeting Michael?

    What do you want the reader to focus on?

    • Stay away from phrases like:
    'The parting scene is heart-wrenching,'
    'The hotel fire is the point of high drama,'

    Heart-wrenching and high drama is something for the agent to decide. Tell us what makes it heart-wrenching or high drama.

    • Lastly, think about a synopsis the way you would tell someone about a great movie. Imagine you just got back from your favorite movie. How would you describe it? I'll bet your sentences would be short, your verbs, active, the excitement, palpable.

    Involve the reader.

    I hope some of this helps.

  11. The book sounds interesting but it takes a lot to get to the story itself. I agree with Joanna it's a bit too long and I don't think it needs the intro. Jump right into the book, because the book is what they're looking for. Good Luck!

  12. First of all - what a great idea to do this Joanna!

    Secondly, reading through the other comments, it looks like others have hit on the main points that stuck out to me, which were:

    * Keep it in third person

    * That entire second person beginning can go

    * Shorten it to between 2-5 pages

    * Keep it objective and eliminate the markety stuff like "heart wrenching"

    * Be careful about stepping outside the story with phrases like: "To the reader Noosa may seem an odd choice ..." You could simply say "Noosa may seem an odd choice ..."

    But it sounds like you've got an intense story with interesting characters here, so I wish you luck!

  13. This is an interesting story but, like the others, I was a bit confused by the opening intro with the second person. It's quite long too..

  14. Hey L'Aussie here. Thanks for the constructive criticism everyone. Just letting you know I actually used the HM&B model they have online for a synopsis - that is where the second person questions came from. Ha Ha. So why do they model this?

    Anyways, the main thing is I got the message - cut it down, make it sharper, no waffle.

    I found it difficult to write and it shows, but overall you like my story which is what I will take away from this exercise.

    Thank you Joanna. You're a gem..:)

  15. Hi Denise,

    Firstly thank you for sharing and putting your work up here for critiquing. There's some great feedback here, I can't really add more. I found helpful hints for myself - so thanks!!

    I read a snippet on your entry for the new voices entry so I have to say am glad to read this. Being a Kiwi - the whale watching twists made me smile and there's certainly enough conflict to keep me reading! Gah! Why do they always fall for Mr Wrong when the Mr Right is always beside them?

    Good luck with your book! ;)


I'd love to hear what you have to say, so go on & make my day