Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I Celebrate a Synopsis

Yeah, the dreaded synopsis. I finished mine for Loathsome, Dark, and Deep yesterday, and to celebrate, I:

  1. made beef stew for dinner (yum)
  2. drank a bottle of Smithwick's in a chilled pint glass with the stew (double yum)
  3. read As the City Sleeps by Stephen T. Johnson to my boys

Okay, As the City Sleeps is the book that should have been written during my childhood.

From the jacket:

Imagine that you are all alone in the sleeping city.
It is is very late at night.

And a quote as inscription:

Night, the beloved.
Night, when words fade and things come alive.

(Antoine de Saint Exupéry)

Oh, joyous shivers. The book is (sadly) out of print. But you must track down a copy. You. Must.

I can't help feeling the first paragraph of Loathsome needs a little tweeking:

For almost six years after Maggie’s death, I’d drowned myself with bourbon on the porch of the only whorehouse in Ecola, Oregon. The will to make a story with what life I had left was gone, vanished beneath the dark boughs of war and betrayal, friends dead and lovers lost. Perhaps the constant haze in which I spent my evenings stunted my voice. Perhaps too much bourbon burned my throat and ruined it, ruined my ability to spin a story just right. But there was safety at the bottom of a glass and a certainty to the numbness I felt all of those evenings as night clamped down her hard, cold fist--a certainty I hadn’t even found in death--not until I turned headfirst into the dark forest, and the bleak hearts of men peeled before me like rotten apples.



Jamie Eyberg said...

I don't know what to say about that opening paragraph. For a comedy it isn't that funny. :)

Sorry, that was inapropriate. But it really does want to spin a dark tale from the first sentence and I wonder if it gets any lighter or if this just takes us further down the rabbit hole and beyond.

Katey said...

I like it-- good first line, immediate connection with the voice, not sure what's not to love, as my mom would say.

Man, I loved The Little Prince.

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - You sir, are a comedian. Yeah...rabbit hole of doom. (evil laugh)

Katey - I just work and rework the first bit of a book soooo much, I need fresh eyes sometimes.

Elana Johnson said...

Congrats on finishing something so loathsome (the synop). That's a major accomplishment for most people. :)

Barry Napier said...

Very good intro. My twin coppers below:

I once received a rejection letter with the suggestion of never using a phrase like "friends long gone, past loves lost" etc. Maybe think of rephrasing that bit.

"all of those evenings" seems awkward to me for some reason.

All of that can be washed away however, by the closing line. The "rotting apples" analogy is effing killer!

Brendan P. Myers said...

Very strong opening. Perhaps "I drowned myself" to make it more immediate, and tell us whether it's the front or back porch (we might draw different conclusions about the character from each.)

Not sure "ruined . . . ruined" works entirely. Perhaps "ruined . . . destroyed."

Perhaps "spin a tale" or "spin a yarn" in place of "story" for spice.

Perhaps "into that dark forest" in lieu of "the dark forest." Don't know why. Seems more mysterious.

Anyway, you don't need to change a word. It's very, very good. But you did ask! And I can't help myself . . .

Aaron Polson said...

Elana - If I could make synopses fun, I'd be a rich, rich man.

Barry - This is what I need: new eyes to find old, rusty bits. Thank ye much.

Cate Gardner said...

I congratulate you and wish you well.

Aaron Polson said...

Brendan - I love it! Feedback is like brain fertilizer.

Cate - Thanks. If I could pay someone to synopsize for me, I'm afraid I'd be tempted.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Congrats on finishing the synopsis. Sounds like an appropriate celebration. I loved the lines from "As the City Sleeps." I enjoyed the opening paragraph (and certainly don't have the skill-set to presume to correct your work)...and as Brendan noted, 'spin a yarn' has a good feel to it.

Fox Lee said...

Didn't know what Smithwicks was, so I looked it up. Prettiest beer ever! I'm a Sapporo woman, myself ; )

Tyhitia Green said...

I wouldn't change it. :-D Congrats on that dreaded synopsis. I hate writing those but love writing my queries. Odd, huh?

Aaron Polson said...

Alan - Yarn has a nice, old-timey sound, doesn't it?

Natalie - Pretty tasty, that is. ;) We used to have Sapporo night at my apartment back in college. Good times.

Tyhitia - Queries aren't so bad to write...sending them out however...

Danielle Birch said...

An excellent way to celebrate. And I love the first line.

Andrea Allison said...

I wish I could offer some help with the opening paragraph but I don't have the experience to provide you with feedback....at least not yet. Congratulations on finishing the synopsis.

Aaron Polson said...

Danielle - And tasty, too. You think my protag has an alcohol problem?

Thanks, Andrea.