Historical Novel - 18th Century New World

Ugh. You got stuck writing a synopsis. Help is on the way.
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longknife

Historical Novel - 18th Century New World

Post by longknife » March 23rd, 2010, 12:06 pm

I would greatly appreciate feedback on the following. The first is the back-of-the-book blurb while the other, while not anywhere close to a synopsis, is to seel the work.

THE CARPENTER AND THE SAILOR
El Carpintero y el Marinero
(A tale of the 18th Century New World)

Back-of-book blurb

An unseasonable typhoon washes Tim Beadle overboard into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Lower California. His first fear is of drowning; his second of being taken by Indians. Little does he suspect that a chance meeting with an orphaned Indian boy will take him on a journey to follow Franciscan Monks as they expand Spanish influence in The New World.

Semi-Synopsis

Changes dominate The New World in 1768. English colonists in the north and east
express their displeasure with the King of England. Russians expand their trading posts along the northwest Pacific coast. The King of Spain orders the Jesuits to leave all his territories in The New World and Franciscans to build missions to expand his influence into California.

Tim Beadle is sold into indenture to the captain of a British Brig and becomes the cabin boy during a long voyage around Cape Horn and into the Pacific. Jaime is orphaned when the pox kills the people of his village. He is adopted by Franciscan Monks and taught Spanish as well as the skills of carpentry. Neither dreams that chance will bring them together.

Another epidemic takes Jaime to La Paz in Lower California. An unseasonable typhoon sweeps Tim overboard and washes him ashore. Pericú Indians who have also captured Jaime find Tim. The two boys learn one another’s language and become friends. They both find the favor of an Indian girl who joins them on a journey to follow the Franciscans as they establish missions. Along the way, the girl will cause frictions that could destroy their friendship.

PaulWoodlin
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Re: Historical Novel - 18th Century New World

Post by PaulWoodlin » March 23rd, 2010, 7:23 pm

If this is a literary work, you need more elegant prose to sell the book; the query/synopsis should sound like the book.

If this is a genre work, where's the tension? Where's the danger? As a former history major, I can probably guess, in general, what might happen to make this book interesting, but if I wrote a similiar synopsis to "The Wizard of Oz," it would be, "A torando dumps a young girl in a magical land, and some unusual friends help her explore Oz and find her way home." No mention of witches or winged monkeys or even who the friends are. So take the most unique, most exciting stuff about your book and put it in.

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wilderness
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Re: Historical Novel - 18th Century New World

Post by wilderness » March 24th, 2010, 5:05 pm

Hi, I don't know if you're still working on this because the post is old, but I thought I'd take a stab since you didn't get many responses.

First off, I hope you won't present two pitches in one query. That's not how it works. If you're not familiar with the format, check out Nathan's posts on good query letters: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/search/ ... y%20Letter

Assuming your pitch would be the second longer one, I would remove the first paragraph with the history lesson. Just say what the setting/time period is and assume that the reader has a general idea about the era.

Some of your statements are too open-ended like "Along the way, the girl will cause frictions that could destroy their friendship" or "will take him on a journey to follow Franciscan Monks as they expand Spanish influence in The New World." You need to focus in on a hook and a main conflict. The pitch should be back-of-the-book blurb style, but don't include generic statements. Hook and conflict only.

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