synopsis: flight - REVISED

Ugh. You got stuck writing a synopsis. Help is on the way.
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synopsis: flight - REVISED

Post by writermorris » May 4th, 2010, 3:18 pm

Please check out the most updated version of this synopsis, posted by me on 5/25/10. Thanks for your feedback.

Hello.

Any help I can get strengthening my synopsis from this fierce forum crew would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


“Please,” she whispered, “just watch.” And then Maria let her body relax for the first time in eight years. She let the sickening burn out from the black hole she’d made for it in her stomach. It was almost relief to finally let go. She felt the nausea well up in her stomach and spill out, felt her head reel. Waves of heat rolled off her body. Her stomach heaved and her ears rang. A metallic, bitter taste filled her mouth. It was almost time.

Maria Black has lived her entire life not knowing why she is the world’s only phoenix. Change—losing her virginity, her father’s death, 9/11—wells up inside her and she grows sick and feverish until flames erupt. From the fire that consumes her body, a bird rises, takes flight, and returns to human form. But as long as Maria doesn’t experience change, she can keep herself from flames and flight. She hasn’t burned in more than eight years and even her husband, Joe Ellis, doesn’t know the dark secret that makes her so allusive and reserved.

Maria’s 2,477-day normal streak is destroyed by a song. She hears the latest single from Sam Montgomery on the radio and begins to fantasize about him. When Sam and Maria meet and learn that they have each been dreaming of the other, they choose to accept their extraordinary friendship. But only Sam is willing to question its meaning. If Maria lets herself believe there is a larger purpose in their seemingly fated friendship, she would also have to question whether there is a reason why she is a phoenix. And Maria is not interested in posing questions that don’t have answers.

Rock star, heartthrob, near recluse, Sam Montgomery has two priorities in life: his music and his attempt to create a normal haven for himself within a storm of paparazzi and rabid fans. When he meets Maria, his priorities shift to include this new best friend. Only once Maria reveals to Sam that she is a phoenix—burning for the first time in years in front of him—does the young musician realize that he is in love. From that moment, his music, Maria’s marriage, and her supernatural secret are all secondary to his conviction that they are meant to be together.

As Sam and Maria’s friendship grows, the world around them never quite fades to the background. Tabloids and fans armed with cell phone cameras dog Sam’s every step. Hotel rooms and rural cabins are his only havens. Closer to the couple than the anonymous crowds, their friends and family understand the depth of their relationship before they do. Sam introduces Maria to his two closest friends—McCellen and Trey—who see that they are in love before either is aware themselves. And it is McCellen, flirtatious and ever-amused, who comes to their aid when a tabloid accuses Maria of being Sam’s mistress.

Maria’s circle of friends includes her husband, sister-in-law Rebecca and her husband Eamon, Ben, and Allison. Sam’s encounter with the group is his first glimpse of Maria as she presents herself to the rest of the world. Aloof and apart from the warm, artistic group of friends. The dinner also provides the intuitive Rebecca with an opportunity to see that the musician is in love with her brother’s wife. And it seems that everyone can see Sam’s latest album for what it is—a love song to Maria.

When a festive night ends with Maria and Sam kissing and his admission of love, it seems their friendship is doomed to end. Maria won’t speak with Sam, and instead tries to find solace in her old habits. She cooks dinners with Joe. Daydreams about strangers. Tries to live a normal life.

But Maria can’t keep away for long. Their affair is short and passionate before she runs away again. She cannot allow herself to be destined for anything, even to love Sam. She would rather live a numb and boring life than reawaken questions about meaning and why she burns.

She tells Joe about the affair and tries to make him understand her supernatural nature. Despite her best efforts to put things right, the secrets and lies prove too much for their marriage and Maria leaves. When Sam learns through McCellen that Maria is now alone, he comes running to be united for a final passionate week with his best friend and lover.

All too quickly, Maria once again recognized that she cannot reconcile loving Sam and her need to shun meaning. On a cold New Year’s morning, she takes what she hopes will be her final flight. She soars through the sky, desperate to leave all vestiges of her human life and questions behind.
Last edited by writermorris on May 27th, 2010, 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by ceiser » May 4th, 2010, 5:54 pm

Hi, writermorris. I don't claim to be an authority on anything that goes on in this forum, but here are my impressions.

When I finished this, I felt like I'd just read a really long query letter. I could have missed something, but I was under the impression that the synopsis was supposed to leave no questions unanswered, and even though you do reveal a lot, it feels like there are questions being raised all up through the end.

It sounds like an intriguing story, but there was one persistent thought I couldn't get out of my head: How much of a change is required for a rebirth? Are there rules? Does Maria know what she can and can't do to keep the status quo? Do we as the readers ever learn that? Okay, that was several questions, but all related. It may not be an issue, but just seems like her rebirth might be turned into an arbitrary plot device if these rules aren't spelled out somehow. Not that I want to strip any magic away, mind you.

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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by writermorris » May 4th, 2010, 6:36 pm

Thanks ceiser.

I've got the rules of the world and what makes Maria burn down pretty well in the ms. I was worried about bogging the synopsis down in details so it's good to know that I can add more. Thanks.

Any other questions lingering through or were they really focused on the burn/rebirth?
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by BlancheKing » May 4th, 2010, 8:20 pm

I'll help =)
writermorris wrote:Hello.

Any help I can get strengthening my synopsis from this fierce forum crew would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


“Please,” she whispered, “just watch.” And then Maria let her body relax for the first time in eight years. She let the sickening burn out from the black hole she’d made for it in her stomach.Bleh... too many unnecessary words. Cut: "Out" "she'd made for it" It was almost relief to finally let go. She felt the nausea well up in her stomach and spill out, felt her head reel. too many "felt" Waves of heat rolled off her body. Her stomach heaved and her ears rang. You just said stomach two sentences ago A metallic, bitter taste filled her mouth. It was almost time.

Maria Black has lived her entire life not knowingclumsy wording why she is the world’s only phoenix. Change—losing her virginity, her father’s death, 9/11—wells up inside her and she grows sick and feverish until flames erupt. way too many "and"s; space after dashes From the fire that consumes her body, a bird rises, takes flight, and returns to human form. But as long as Maria doesn’t experience change, she can keep herself from flames and flight. She hasn’t burned in more than eight years and even her husband, Joe Ellis, doesn’t know the dark secret that makes her so allusive and reserved. the word allusive means "in reference to". Perhaps you are thinking of "elusive" or "alluring"? last adjective cliche in this circumstance. Cut "But". Overall, shorten paragraph.

Maria’s 2,477-day normal streak is destroyed by a song. She hears the latest single from Sam Montgomery on the radio and begins to fantasize about him. When Sam and Maria meet and learn that they have each been dreaming of the other, they choose to accept their extraordinary friendship. starting to dislike Maria. Beware of tone deviation towards the "woman ditches ordinary husband for super awesome hot rockstar that totally makes her feel young again"But only Sam is willing to question its meaning. If Maria lets herself believe there is a larger purpose in their seemingly fated friendship, she would also have to question whether there is a reason why she is a phoenix.Lack of logic in general. And Maria is not interested in posing questions that don’t have answers.

Rock star, heartthrob, near recluse, Sam Montgomery has two priorities in life: his music and his attempt to create a normal haven for himself within a storm of paparazzi and rabid fans. When he meets Maria, his priorities shift to include this new best friend. Only once Maria reveals to Sam that she is a phoenix—burning for the first time in years in front of him—does the young musician realize that he is in love. From that moment, his music, Maria’s marriage, and her supernatural secret are all secondary to his conviction that they are meant to be together. starting to sound like a middle-aged woman's fantasy...

As Sam and Maria’s friendship grows, the world around them never quite fades to the background. Tabloids and fans armed with cell phone cameras dog Sam’s every step. Hotel rooms and rural cabins are his only havens. Hotel rooms? seriously? Closer to the couple than the anonymous crowds, their friends and family understand the depth of their relationship before they do. Sam introduces Maria to his two closest friends—McCellen and Trey—who see that they are in love before either is aware themselves. And it is McCellen, flirtatious and ever-amused, who comes to their aid when a tabloid accuses Maria of being Sam’s mistress.

Maria’s circle of friends includes her husband, sister-in-law Rebecca and her husband Eamon, Ben, and Allison. Sam’s encounter with the group is his first glimpse of Maria as she presents herself to the rest of the world. Aloof and apart from the warm, artistic group of friends. The dinner also provides the intuitive Rebecca with an opportunity to see that the musician is in love with her brother’s wife. And it seems that everyone can see Sam’s latest album for what it is—a love song to Maria.Why is the husband a friend? Why does he not have glowing green eyes and a pitchfork?

When a festive night ends with Maria and Sam kissing and his admission of love, it seems their friendship is doomed to end. Maria won’t speak with Sam, and instead tries to find solace in her old habits. She cooks dinners with Joe. Daydreams about strangers. Tries to live a normal life. Fragments don't work here

But Maria can’t keep away for long. Their affair is short and passionate before she runs away again. She cannot allow herself to be destined for anything, even to love Sam. She would rather live a numb and boring life than reawaken questions about meaning and why she burns.

She tells Joe about the affair and tries to make him understand her supernatural nature. Despite her best efforts to put things right, the secrets and lies prove too much for their marriage and Maria leaves. What? She leaves him? Shouldn't it be the other way around? When Sam learns through McCellen that Maria is now alone, he comes running to be united for a final passionate week with his best friend and lover. So woman cheats on husband, leaves him, and hooks up with other dude... I sincerely hope no man every finds out about it....

All too quickly, Maria once again recognized that she cannot reconcile loving Sam and her need to shun meaning. On a cold New Year’s morning, she takes what she hopes will be her final flight. She soars through the sky, desperate to leave all vestiges of her human life and questions behind.Finally. Bonus points for Maria
Forgive the blunt critque, but better hear it now than from a professional...

The events you've described seems mundane. I cannot distinguish this romance novel from the tens on the shelf of a local drugstore. (A, married to B, meets interesting C, and romance ensues with occasional glimpses of D and E.) Though the last paragraph saved your protagonist, I generally did not like Maria. She lacks... empathy. So far I see angst, adultery, and a sort of self-declared tragedy characteristic of teenagers and alcoholics. Why should we, as the audience, like Maria?

Also, I keep picturing a faded middle-aged woman reading this and trying to live out Maria's life, ie, bad things waiting to happen. Sam feels too much like a cardboard cutout character, and Joe seems flat. Maybe it's the way the synopsis is worded...
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by writermorris » May 4th, 2010, 9:41 pm

Thanks blancheking. Brutal but necessary. I think the story is (I hope!) more interesting than the synopsis and that Maria is more empathetic in the story itself. Lots to think about. Lots to work on!

Again, thank you.
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by ceiser » May 7th, 2010, 11:07 pm

writermorris wrote:Thanks ceiser.

I've got the rules of the world and what makes Maria burn down pretty well in the ms. I was worried about bogging the synopsis down in details so it's good to know that I can add more. Thanks.

Any other questions lingering through or were they really focused on the burn/rebirth?
That was the main one. Other than that, I guess I want to really feel what the stakes are. You kind point to that at the end, but otherwise, it just sounds like she needs to move on in her life, which is something that many people can relate to, but I don't know that comes off as compelling in the synopsis. I'm struggling with similar issues in my query so I can relate to that.

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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by jkmcdonnell » May 10th, 2010, 2:40 am

Hey there. I just have a few general points about the excerpt:

First of all, I LOVED the premise. It's such an interesting idea and your quality of writing is evidently high. I'm guessing the genre is paranormal romance, and seeing as this is so strong in YA right now, I would suggest exploring the idea of changing your novel to YA paranormal romance if you don't find representation initially.

I didn't get much of a sense of character from Maria, other than she is trying to run away from pretty much everything, which can be kind of clichéd and ultimately pointless. Why is she so determined not to learn about this huge part of herself? Surely some natural curiosity would be present? And what ties her to Sam, other than their dreams?

I would also look for deeper exploration of the character's powers -- what else, if anything, do they entail apart from burning, flight and regeneration? Do they make her a danger to others? Do they make her immortal? Is there any mention of a phoenix song (or is this tied to Sam's character)?

I'm unsure if you have included the actual ending of the novel here in your synopsis. If it is, though, the reader would likely feel cheated by it. I can see the series potential if you cut it here -- Maria's story definitely seems unfinished -- but it feels abrupt and abrasive, and doesn't resolve many of the questions opened in this synopsis.

Good luck regardless, you definitely have something here.

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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by BlancheKing » May 11th, 2010, 8:38 am

jkmcdonnell wrote:Hey there. I just have a few general points about the excerpt:

First of all, I LOVED the premise. It's such an interesting idea and your quality of writing is evidently high. I'm guessing the genre is paranormal romance, and seeing as this is so strong in YA right now, I would suggest exploring the idea of changing your novel to YA paranormal romance if you don't find representation initially.
um... forgive the disagreement, but I think the novel's current genre is best where it stands. Most YA are a) not married, b) grown picky about romance ever since Twilight came out, and c) very VERY aware of Mary Sues -- beautiful, alluring, angsty, misunderstood, overloved yet under appreciated, changing into mystical-animal, and in general gives off the i'm-something-your-not vibe (see wikipedia for long definition). Adults will have a better time empathizing with Maria than young adults. Unless the romance is orientated towards YA, most of us will not make it past page 3.
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by writermorris » May 11th, 2010, 11:18 am

Well, it seems all of the cliches of synopsis writing are true and I stink at it just like anyone else!

It is interesting and somewhat relieving that just about all of the questions posed by jkmcdonnell and ceiser are answered in the ms and I just didn't include them in the synopsis...
...There are rules to why Maria burns and how she can sometimes prevent it from happening.
...There is a sense of stakes/danger in that she badly burned the first boy she loved and is scared that she can hurt others. She is also scared that she'll lose her husband if her realizes she's not normal.
...The ties with Sam are initially only because of the dreams and there is some irony in the story -- she can project her dreams into anyone else, Sam is just the first person she's met who tells her about their shared dreams and so they assume they are destined/connected even though there isn't anything inherently special there. Neither of them ever realize this though, only the omniscient narrator/reader.
...And Maria tried to figure out what the story behind being a phoenix is before the story picks up. She never found anything. And her inability find answers nearly broke her the first time. Hence her fear of seeking out the answers behind anything. She's scared that she'll learn once again that she's plagued by something she sees as horrible for absolutely no reason.

As for the YA suggestion, I don't think I'll head there. I love YA novels but I just don't think this one could be massaged into that genre well.

Oh, and jkmcdonnell... thanks for complimenting the idea and writing. Made my day.
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by jkmcdonnell » May 12th, 2010, 1:36 am

BlancheKing wrote: um... forgive the disagreement, but I think the novel's current genre is best where it stands. Most YA are a) not married, b) grown picky about romance ever since Twilight came out, and c) very VERY aware of Mary Sues -- beautiful, alluring, angsty, misunderstood, overloved yet under appreciated, changing into mystical-animal, and in general gives off the i'm-something-your-not vibe (see wikipedia for long definition). Adults will have a better time empathizing with Maria than young adults. Unless the romance is orientated towards YA, most of us will not make it past page 3.
I think you misunderstand me. I was only suggesting changing it if the novel doesn't get picked up in its current form, and of course this change of genre would require plot and character changes, as well. I am not into the idea of married teenagers. If the genre is changed, the husband could become a boyfriend, etc.

BTW, what do you mean by "grown picky about romance ever since Twilight came out"? Do teens now require all male leads to sparkle, or have they rebelled against the notion of paranormal stalkers?

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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by BlancheKing » May 13th, 2010, 9:18 am

jkmcdonnell wrote:
I think you misunderstand me. I was only suggesting changing it if the novel doesn't get picked up in its current form, and of course this change of genre would require plot and character changes, as well. I am not into the idea of married teenagers. If the genre is changed, the husband could become a boyfriend, etc.

BTW, what do you mean by "grown picky about romance ever since Twilight came out"? Do teens now require all male leads to sparkle, or have they rebelled against the notion of paranormal stalkers?

The reason I posted the previous note was because, after reading your suggestion, I asked some of the freshmen in the lounge to read over the synopsis. The first reaction was "she turns into a WHAT?" followed by a "wait, so she's cheating on him and he's okay with it?". The general consensus was that it would make a better romance novel than YA novel.

And what I mean by "grown picky" is that Twilight has sent the romance genre into complete chaos. The fangirls will scream if something's not deliciously sparklypoo, while everyone else will just scream in general at any mush/gush/slush. My unfortunate friend whose name happens to be "Edward" now gets a "really?", "wow", "oh..." or "I'm sorry" every time he introduces himself to a girl.
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by Jessica Peter » May 21st, 2010, 1:27 am

writermorris wrote: “Please,” she whispered, “just watch.” And then Maria let her body relax for the first time in eight years. She let the sickening burn out from the black hole she’d made for it in her stomach. It was almost relief to finally let go. She felt the nausea well up in her stomach and spill out, felt her head reel. Waves of heat rolled off her body. Her stomach heaved and her ears rang. A metallic, bitter taste filled her mouth. It was almost time. I think this is a really engaging quote to start it off.

Maria Black has lived her entire life not knowing why she is the world’s only phoenix. Change—losing her virginity, her father’s death, 9/11—wells up inside her and she grows sick and feverish until flames erupt. From the fire that consumes her body, a bird rises, takes flight, and returns to human form. Holy crap, from this sentence I want to find this book and read it! But as long as Maria doesn’t experience change, she can keep herself from flames and flight. Are flames and flight a bad thing? Does it hurt her?She hasn’t burned in more than eight years and even her husband, Joe Ellis, doesn’t know the dark secret that makes her so allusive I'm thinking you mean elusive? . . . unless it involves allusionsand reserved.

Maria’s 2,477-day normal streak is destroyed by a song. She hears the latest single from Sam Montgomery on the radio and begins to fantasize about him. When Sam and Maria meet and learn that they have each been dreaming of the otherSam's been dreaming about a woman he's never met?, they choose to accept their extraordinary friendship. But only Sam is willing to question its meaning.Why would a friendship have a meaning? If Maria lets herself believe there is a larger purpose in their seemingly fated friendship, she would also have to question whether there is a reason why she is a phoenix. And Maria is not interested in posing questions that don’t have answers.

Rock star, heartthrob, near recluse, Sam Montgomery has two priorities in life: his music and his attempt to create a normal haven for himself within a storm of paparazzi and rabid fans. When he meets Maria, his priorities shift to include this new best friend. Only once Maria reveals to Sam that she is a phoenix—burning for the first time in years in front of himWhat change brings on the burn? Her new friend?—does the young musician realize that he is in love. From that moment, his music, Maria’s marriage, and her supernatural secret are all secondary to his conviction that they are meant to be together.

As Sam and Maria’s friendship grows, the world around them never quite fades to the background. Tabloids and fans armed with cell phone cameras dog Sam’s every step. Hotel rooms and rural cabins are his only havens. Closer to the couple than the anonymous crowds, their friends and family understand the depth of their relationship before they do. Sam introduces Maria to his two closest friends—McCellen and Trey—who sees that they are in love before either is aware themselves. And it is McCellen, flirtatious and ever-amused, who comes to their aid when a tabloid accuses Maria of being Sam’s mistress.

Maria’s circle of friends includes her husband, sister-in-law Rebecca and her husband Eamon, Ben, and Allison. This seems unclear, and I'm thinking not all of these character matter at this point. What I AM wondering is where in the world her husband has been this whole time? Is there tension? Does he care that his wife has brought a famous musician along that is also in love with her? Sam’s encounter with the group is his first glimpse of Maria as she presents herself to the rest of the world. Aloof and apart from the warm, artistic group of friends. The dinner also provides the intuitive Rebecca with an opportunity to see that the musician is in love with her brother’s wife. And it seems that everyone can see Sam’s latest album for what it is—a love song to Maria.

When a festive night ends with Maria and Sam kissing and his admission of love, it seems their friendship is doomed to end. Maria won’t speak with Sam, and instead tries to find solace in her old habits. She cooks dinners with Joe. Daydreams about strangers. Tries to live a normal life.

But Maria can’t keep away for long. Their affair is short and passionate before she runs away again. She cannot allow herself to be destined for anything, even to love Sam. She would rather live a numb and boring life than reawaken questions about meaning and why she burns.

She tells Joe about the affair and tries to make him understand her supernatural nature. Despite her best efforts to put things right, the secrets and lies prove too much for their marriage and Maria leaves. When Sam learns through McCellen that Maria is now alone, he comes running to be united for a final passionate week with his best friend and lover.

All too quickly, Maria once again recognized that she cannot reconcile loving Sam and her need to shun meaning. On a cold New Year’s morning, she takes what she hopes will be her final flight. She soars through the sky, desperate to leave all vestiges of her human life and questions behind.And is that the end?
Okay, so bear with me. This is my first synopsis critique. I'm working on one of my own (and somewhat failing) and decided to come down and see what others are doing. I basically questioned areas on where you may need to be a bit clearer throughout. I think you can cut back on your brief mentions of extraneous characters and stick to your main characters. But I do think you need to present what's going on with Maria's husband - if there's conflict or tension there (or anywhere else that we haven't seen yet), make sure we see it in the synopsis.

Also, though I like the almost-broken and purposely sheltered protagonist at the beginning, the whole cheating on herhusband thing throws me. We need more justification for it in the synopsis (even if it needs to be added to the novel...) if you want people to like her. That's not saying she needs to be liked, but what genre you're hoping to get it in might make a difference.

Responding to other posters, if the last sentence is the ending, it can't be a paranormal romance, because the protagonist and love interest don't end with a "happy for now" ending. And I'm pretty sure straight up cheating is a hard sell in the paranormal romance readership. . .
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Re: synopsis: flight

Post by xouba » May 21st, 2010, 3:19 am

jkmcdonnell wrote: I didn't get much of a sense of character from Maria, other than she is trying to run away from pretty much everything, which can be kind of clichéd and ultimately pointless.
I respectfully disagree. I think this could be used to a great effect if her tendency to run away from everything gets in the middle of her life. I.e., if it's something she can't help doing, even though it ruins her life.

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Re: synopsis: flight - ALMOST COMPLETELY REWRITTEN

Post by writermorris » May 21st, 2010, 2:30 pm

Thank you guys for the really constructive feedback. Below is my second attempt at writing the synopsis. While I kept a few of my favorite turns of phrase (or ones that received compliments here), it is almost entirely rewritten.

Again, thank you in advance for your feedback.


“Please,” she whispered, “just watch.” And then Maria let her body relax for the first time in eight years. She released the sickening burn from its black hole in her stomach. It was almost relief to finally let go. She felt the nausea well and spill out, felt her head reel. Waves of heat rolled off her body. Her stomach heaved and her ears rang. A metallic, bitter taste filled her mouth. It was almost time.

When Maria Black experiences major changes in her life, she grows sick and feverish until she bursts into flames. From the fire that consumes her, a bird rises, takes flight, and returns to human form. When she returns, the changes manifest in her body—the color of her hair changes, her freckles disappear. For the last 2,477 days, she has done everything in her power to avoid change and suppress the burn. That's when she met her husband, Joe Ellis, and she has worked hard ever since to build a normal life and be the kind of woman he could love. She doesn’t want more pain. She doesn’t want to be a monster.

Her quiet if dispassionate life is interrupted when she runs—quite literally—into the famous musician Sam Montgomery on the street and learns that they have been dreaming about each other. In fact, they have been have dreamed the same dreams, in which they are good friends. Without any better idea of how to handle the strange situation, they decide to get to know each other to see where it leads. But only Sam is willing to question the meaning behind their dreams. Maria is not interested in posing questions that don’t have answers.

True to their dreams and much to her husband’s chagrin, Maria and Sam become close friends. As tabloids and fans armed with cell phones dog Sam in public, they create a world for themselves in his hotel rooms and hiding places. Sam’s borderline agoraphobia and Maria’s aloofness from the world, even Joe’s hurt over their friendship, don’t matter when they are together.

Maria decides to show Sam her secret. Having suppressed the fires for so long, the change that welled up inside of her comes out easily. After overcoming his initial panic, Sam realizes that he is in love with Maria.

While Sam’s feelings might be obvious to everyone else, Maria remains in the dark. After living a lifetime without knowing why she is an incarnation of a phoenix, she is well practiced at not questioning the meaning behind anything and not scratching below surfaces. Though she remains ignorant, Sam’s best friends and Maria’s close knit circle all see that he is in love with her. Even Joe realizes that Sam’s latest album is full of love songs about Maria.

Sam’s anxiety about the public and his privacy seems an overreaction to Maria until their photo ends up on the cover of a magazine with a headline proclaiming her to be his mistress. Joe is furious. Sam is guilt ridden. His best friend, McCellen, comes to their aid and finds the whole episode rather funny.

After a festive night ends with a drunken kiss, Sam confesses his love to Maria. She tries at first to stay away but cannot and their affair is short lived. Maria does not want to hurt Joe and cannot handle the idea that their dreams mean her love with Sam is predestined. She would rather return to her normal, numb life than believe they are fated to be together and reawaken questions about meaning and why she burns.

Maria tells Joe about the affair and tries to explain her burning and flight. He mistakes her admission for a metaphor. Though they try to keep their marriage together, Joe cannot forget her lies. Only after he tells her he’s leaving does Joe Ellis see his wife burn.

Sam hears through McCellen that Maria is no longer married and comes running to be reunited for a final passionate week with his best friend and lover. But Maria once again recognized that she cannot reconcile loving Sam and her need to shun meaning. On a cold New Year’s morning, she takes what she hopes will be her final flight. She soars through the sky, desperate to leave all vestiges of her human life and questions behind.
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lac582
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Re: synopsis: flight - ALMOST COMPLETELY REWRITTEN

Post by lac582 » May 22nd, 2010, 6:38 pm

Here are some of my on-the-fly thoughts. Feel free to take with a grain of salt as I generally don't read a lot of romance and therefore am not familiar with the conventions or necessarily part of your natural audience. I think there are a lot of strong elements here but also places that would benefit from additional clarity.
writermorris wrote: “Please,” she whispered, “just watch.” And then Maria let her body relax for the first time in eight years. She released the sickening burn from its black hole in her stomach. It was almost relief to finally let go. She felt the nausea well and spill out, felt her head reel. Waves of heat rolled off her body. Her stomach heaved and her ears rang. A metallic, bitter taste filled her mouth. It was almost time.

When Maria Black experiences major changes in her life, she grows sick and feverish until she bursts into flames. From the fire that consumes her, a bird rises, takes flight, and returns to human form. When she returns, the changes manifest in her body—the color of her hair changes, her freckles disappear. For the last 2,477 days, she has done everything in her power to avoid change and suppress the burn. That's when she met her husband, Joe Ellis, and. She has worked hard ever since to build a normal life and be the kind of woman he could love. (What kind of woman? Normal?) She doesn’t want more pain. (You don't have to answer this in the query, but I'm kind of left wondering if you mean physical pain, emotional, or both. In your description in italics above the burn sounds uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful.) She doesn’t want to be a monster.

Her quiet if dispassionate (I'd take that out. Could just be me, but the word 'dispassionate' invokes fairness, not lack of passion. She enjoys her quiet life, yes? Or does the lack of passion bother her? It's not clear.) life is interrupted when she runs—quite literally—into the famous musician Sam Montgomery on the street and learns that they have been dreaming about each other. In fact, they have been have dreamed the same dreams, in which they are good friends. (This sentence reads a little 'book report', it could use more color/voice because it's supposed to grab me and it's falling flat.) Without any better idea of how to handle the strange situation, they decide to get to know each other to see where it leads. But only Sam is willing to question the meaning behind their dreams. Maria is not interested in posing questions that don’t have answers. (Why? Normally people would naturally be really curious, like Sam is, so we need to know more about Maria's character and what her motivation is to react so unexpectedly.)

True to their dreams and much to her husband’s chagrin, Maria and Sam become close friends. As tabloids and fans armed with cell phones dog Sam in public, they create a world for themselves in his hotel rooms and hiding places. Sam’s borderline agoraphobia and Maria’s aloofness from the world, even Joe’s hurt over their friendship (I'm not sure aloof is the right word to describe a wife ignoring her husband's feelings), don’t matter when they are together.

Maria decides to show Sam her secret. Having suppressed the fires for so long, the change that welled up inside of her comes out easily. After overcoming his initial panic, Sam realizes that he is in love with Maria. (Again, this whole graf reads a little blah. Tell, rather than show. Seems like a great place for you to bring out some of the voice from the novel.)

While Sam’s feelings might be obvious to everyone else, Maria remains in the dark. After living a lifetime without knowing why she is an incarnation of a phoenix, she is well practiced at not questioning the meaning behind anything and not scratching below surfaces. Though she remains ignorant, Sam’s best friends and Maria’s close knit circle all see that he is in love with her. Even Joe realizes that Sam’s latest album is full of love songs about Maria (I'm starting to want to know a little more about Joe's character here. Why is he putting up with this? Is he telling her to stop seeing him, threatening her with divorce? I think we need to know exactly how this further complicate things for Maria.).

Sam’s anxiety about the public and his privacy seems an overreaction to Maria until their photo ends up on the cover of a magazine with a headline proclaiming her to be his mistress. Joe is furious. Sam is guilt ridden. His best friend, McCellen, comes to their aid and finds the whole episode rather funny. (So the whole thing is diffused? No big deal? This sentence seems to undercut the rising conflict.)

After a festive night ends with a drunken kiss, Sam confesses his love to Maria. She tries at first to stay away but cannot and their affair is short lived. Maria does not want to hurt Joe and cannot handle the idea that their dreams mean her love with Sam is predestined (Hasn't she already hurt Joe?). She would rather return to her normal, numb life than believe they are fated to be together and reawaken questions about meaning and why she burns. (The connection between their relationship and her avoiding the questions of her supernatural nature hasn't been drawn clearly enough for me. I think you really do need to include that backstory about her injuring her first love.)

Maria tells Joe about the affair and tries to explain her burning and flight. He mistakes her admission for a metaphor. Though they try to keep their marriage together, Joe cannot forget her lies. Only after he tells her he’s leaving does Joe Ellis see his wife burn (This sounds like a really good and intriguing scene. How does Joe react or do we not know because Maria flies away and chooses never to see him again?).

Sam hears through McCellen that Maria is no longer married and comes running to be reunited for a final passionate week (why a week?) with his best friend and lover. But Maria once again recognized recognizes that she cannot reconcile loving Sam and her need to shun meaning ('her need to shun meaning' is a bit awkward. Also, I want to sympathize with her but I can't because you still haven't really explained her motivation and so her stubbornness is turning me off to her.). On a cold New Year’s morning, she takes what she hopes will be her final flight. She soars through the sky, desperate to leave all vestiges of her human life and questions behind.
Does she succeed? What in her past experience suggests that she'll be able to stay a bird this time?

Overall this is an intriguing story. I think the two biggest things that I'm missing in this synopsis are a better understanding of Maria's character and a better understanding of how the supernatural angle drives the plot.

The weakest part for me is the middle. Maria seems kind of passive, blindly palling around with this guy who loves her even though everyone else knows it including her husband. What are the consequences? What choices is she forced to make? Why are we supposed to relate to her since for a long stretch she comes off as nothing more than a self-deluded woman who cares more about a friendship than a marriage.

Also, the plot points where she reveals to each man that she's a phoenix are huge, and I don't get sufficient understanding of the weight of those moments and, again, their consequences for her. How is it that Sam's reaction to her revelation is to realize he's in love with her. The one doesn't necessarily follow the other. Is he scared, shocked, fascinated, sympathetic? This is a huge game changer. Do they just carry on with things as normal? The next to grafs kind of suggest that they do, which feels like a let down.

I don't have a sense of Maria's character arc. How does this story change her? Does she go from loathing her phoenix nature to accepting it? It doesn't seem that way at the end, it seems like she's just trying to escape.

And even if Maria doesn't want to know, as the reader, not learning why she and Sam shared dreams and also not learning why she's a phoenix was disappointing since those are your biggest hooks.

Whew - hope that helps! I have a feeling everything I'm asking comes through in the book, it's just not coming through in the synopsis.

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