Question about synopses when submitting to BL

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Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Dragonlover » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:36 am

Ok, I'm looking to submit something this year during the window, and one of the things I always fall down on is writing the synopsis. I think this is due to my brain saying that the synopsis is just 'This is what happens in the story', when I've seen them with character lists and all sorts of stuff in.

So, my question is, when doing the synopsis for a short story to submit to BL, what other than a summary of the events of the story should go in?

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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby narrativium » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:06 am

I'd sum it up as 'why it's not just a summary of events'. A story isn't a list of 'X happened, then Y happened'. You need to give some sense of the characters; the synopsis is the best place to state as clearly as you can what the characters' agendas are - why they're doing what they're doing, why the fight matters.
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby coydna » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:41 am

I've found it also helps to give a short summary at the start of the synopsis of what the story is, basically what you imagine the blurb on the back of the novel to say. It'll give editors a clear idea of what story you want to tell.
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby kurisawa » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:29 am

Rather like the stories themselves, there appears to be several ways to do a synopsis, and you should approach it like a writing task in itself; but with very different targets to the sample text. Gav Thorpe and I believe Pyro have (successful!) samples on their blogs. Didn't Mr. Dunn review an unsuccessful one on the old bolthole, too?

K.
My short stories:
1. Extraction = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2127
2. Intoxication = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2188
3. Desecration = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2294
4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

My novel:
BLACK SHIELDS: INCOGNITUS = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1901
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Mossy Toes » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:36 pm

Yes, he did--one of mine. And it was quite flattering, but at the same time, revealing of its weaknesses and what I should do better next time...
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Dragonlover » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:40 pm

If I post one of my previous synopses, would you guys mind telling me what could be done to improve it? I can then use that template to do the synopsis for this years attempt at getting published.

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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Pyroriffic » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:16 pm

I don't have a sample synopsis anywhere, not at the moment.

The way I've done it... for a short story, you need an Outline, in which you essentially summarise the whole thing, then your Synopsis in which you detail everything else. For example:-

Outline

Righteous Smiting is a short story in which three Imperial Fists have to fight their way through a bingo hall packed with violent pensioners. As they hack and slash their way through the hall, they discover that behind the bingo caller is a deadly secret.

Synopsis

[Tell the story in less than 500 words. If you can't tell the story in less than 500 words, you can't tell it.]

It's more complex for a novel submission; Gav's website is probably a better place to look.I used his guidelines to help me out.
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby kurisawa » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:57 am

Pyroriffic wrote:I don't have a sample synopsis anywhere, not at the moment.

The way I've done it... for a short story, you need an Outline, in which you essentially summarise the whole thing, then your Synopsis in which you detail everything else. For example:-

Outline

Righteous Smiting is a short story in which three Imperial Fists have to fight their way through a bingo hall packed with violent pensioners. As they hack and slash their way through the hall, they discover that behind the bingo caller is a deadly secret.

Synopsis

[Tell the story in less than 500 words. If you can't tell the story in less than 500 words, you can't tell it.]

It's more complex for a novel submission; Gav's website is probably a better place to look.I used his guidelines to help me out.


I'm using that idea, but don't you find yourself repeating things? EG:

Outline

Righteous Smiting is the story of Imperial Fist's Captain Ragioso Legseleven, a fierce warrior but prone to gambling addiction, whose faith is tested when his mission takes him to a bingo hall.

Synopsis

CAPTIAN RAGIOSO LEGSELEVEN is a captain of the Imperial Fists who has a gambling problem. His mission is to cleanse a bingo hall of heretic pensioners, but old habits die hard and he is inexorably drawn to the little balls...

For novels, with a chapter breakdown, I find I'm saying things three times. This seems a waste of words (at a time when words must not be wasted!), so I'm trying to have snippets of information unique to each part of the submission, not knowing if this will just be frustrating... :?

K. :D
My short stories:
1. Extraction = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2127
2. Intoxication = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2188
3. Desecration = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2294
4. Indoctrination = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3172

My novel:
BLACK SHIELDS: INCOGNITUS = viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1901
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:52 pm

What I am saying has no actual weight behind it, I could be completely wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.

Characters, Conflict and reasoning.

That's the focus right there. Any story has people doing things, why are they doing things, what reasons do they have. When things are done how do they and others react (could it be that these reactions are what take the story from A-B. Could they be the plot?).

Also conflict, drama is about conflict, stories should be dramatic, there should be conflict happening. Not just "In the Grim Future of the 41st Millenium there is only war" but you know subtler more personal stuff, you have your characters, they are faced with conflict, what do they do, why do they do it, what chain of events unfolds. But ultimately whatever is next worth mentioning is to do with a character has them experiencing some sort of conflict and responding to it in a certain way.

Identify the conflict points, talk about them, talk about how the characters respond, the response will lead to the next conflict point.

Did any of that make sense?
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Pyroriffic » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:23 am

If you have time and you think you can do it, a good exercise is to take an existing short story from one of the anthologies and summarise it. Have you captured the essence of the story? Is what you've described in your summary a true representation of the finished work?

That really is a good exercise to do.
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Squiggle » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:12 am

Kurisawa - I wouldnt fret about the replication. You are being asked to replicate stuff.

You cant mention an event in the single paragraph summary and then NOT mention it in the synopsis!

Similarly with a novel submission, you do need to mention everything that happens. The reasoning for asking for the different parts is to enable the editors to see if the initial idea is any good, and then to see if you are capable of structuring a novel.,

And for the love of the Emperor, make sure you include the ending! :?
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Re: Question about synopses when submitting to BL

Postby Remerez » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:44 pm

This was originally posted by Matt Farrer on the BL forums around the time they were accepting submissions for The Cold Hand of Betrayal anthology:

This is the first part of the submission for the story "Jahama's Lesson", which was published in INFERNO and subsequently in Way of the Dead. This is the synopsis part; the second part was an actual extract from the story, a page or so long, which I haven't included.

A few notes on this. Firstly, a spoiler warning for those of you who want to read the story first, since this gives the ending. (Yes, that's deliberate: put in the complete story, plot twists and all, don't hold anything back.) Secondly, yes, the story here is a little different to the one that appeared in the magazine. There were some alterations to the structure, with more switching back and forth between the two plot strands and less of the backstory I describe in the synopsis. Also, when I made the submission I didn't realise Helldrakes were sea creatures not flying ones, so the story was adjusted for that.

Most importantly for those of you looking for something to base your own synopses on, is that the BL likes a short "high concept" summary of the summary right at the start, maybe a couple of sentences or so to convey the narrative hook of the story. If I were submitting this now the first paragraph would be something like:

Overview: A slave raid led by a Dark Elf noble turns into catastrophe when the Assassin he thought he was sending on a suicide mission turns out not to appreciate being double-crossed.

With that, this was the submission I sent in.


Inferno! story synopsis - "Jahama's Lesson" (Warhammer Fantasy)

• Khreos Maledict, Duke of Clar Karond, Master of the Black Ark Exultation of Blighted Hope, is riding though the night over the coast of Bretonnia as his Black Ark waits out to sea under an enchanted fog. Riding with him, in a howdah mounted on a Helldrake, are his nephew, Khrait, a senior Witch Elf named Miharan and her protegé, an Assassin named Jahama.
• They are riding to a range of low hills halfway to the castle of the Duc D’Argent, a nobleman for whom the Dark Elves have a deep hatred. He’s been a thorn in Naggaroth’s side, winning a number of stinging victories against the Dark Elves and having the gall to launch an annual tournament in celebration of his success against them. There has been one such festival, and Khreos is here to make sure there is never another: to destroy the Duc on what would have been the eve of the second tourney will be fitting retribution for his insolence in standing up to the Dark Elves.
• There’s another agenda, too. A number of the major Dark Elf noble Houses have had their noses bloodied trying to bring the Duc to heel. The more nobles humiliate themselves by being defeated by him, the greater the prestige for the one who finally succeeds in capturing or killing him. Now Khreos has hatched a plan in co-operation with the Witch Elves that he is sure will bring him victory, prestige, and position at the Witch-King’s court.
• Jahama is one of the finest Assassins in the the Witch Elves’ stable. Instead of simply marching on the Duc’s castle, Khreos will send Jahama ahead of his force, to slip into the castle with magical aid and move through it in the dead of night butchering the sleeping warriors within. By the time Khreos and Miharan lead their forces to the castle at dawn, the resistance will have been gutted, the Duc drugged and captured and the would-be tourney-goers ready to be rounded up as sacrifices and slaves.
• What Duke Khreos hasn’t mentioned is that this is a suicide mission. He has no intention at all of allowing the Assassin and his Witch Elf controllers to share any of the glory that will come with finally bringing the Duc down. The castle is much more heavily-defended than Khreos has let on, and although he expects Jahama to do a great deal of damage he also expects him to die. Jahama and Miharan are unaware that they are Khreos’ expendable pawns.
• The sentry on the castle walls hasn’t a chance, falling without even seeing what killed him. Jahama slips into the castle like a shadow… but as he moves through the halls, his choice of targets is nothing short of bizarre. A couple of servants, a squire, an elderly Knight long past his fighting days, with easy kills on good targets passed up. Finally, Jahama makes one bungle too many and the hue and cry begins. At the gates there’s a tense, fierce fight with the garrison, and as Jahama cuts his last opponent down and slips away into the night a folded paper is dislodged from his belt. It’s a map, showing his way to his rendezvous point! Is he trying to lure the Duc into a trap?
• No, the trap isn’t for the Duc. The story ends at the rendezvous, about two hours after dawn. The enraged Bretonnians rode out in force as soon as they realised what the map was, and caught Khreos utterly unprepared: dead Dark Elves pile the road, and Jahama finds the dying Khreos crawling away from his dead Cold One. Jahama explains with relish his lesson for Khreos: an Assassin, of all people, knows a suicide mission when he sees one. He and Miharan had seen through Khreos’ clumsy double-cross from the beginning, and decided to play along until they could retaliate in the most devastating way. And with that Jahama sets off, alone but satisfied, to the bay where a boat to the Black Ark will be waiting.
Exit, pursued by a bear.
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