Naomi Novik (naominovik) wrote,
Naomi Novik

Plot Synopsis Project

ETA: edited to add direct permanent links to the other participants' posts!

jpsorrow put together this idea, which I thought was fun, of posting a successful synopsis: the kind of short summary you might send along with a query letter to get an agent or editor interested in seeing the full manuscript. The idea is to give any of you out there who are aspiring writers (or just curious!) a bunch of examples that were used to help sell a book.

My examples here are a little atypical: Betsy got interested in His Majesty's Dragon just from the manuscript itself, but they were interested in additional books; so she then asked me for synopses of the next two books before we agreed on the first three-book deal.

NOTE: Spoilers galore within! This is actually an important tip: do not worry about spoiling your prospective agent/editor. Give them all you've got. You will also note that there are many, many differences between these synopses and the eventual books, not least the titles.

Original Synopsis for Throne of Jade
Luck and Palaces
The Chronicle of Temeraire, Book II

The Chinese have learned that Temeraire, one of their prized Celestial dragons, has been assigned to Laurence, who in their eyes is nothing more than a common British officer. Insulted, they demand his return, a request that cannot be refused: China is the greatest air power of the time, and Britain cannot afford to have them come into the war on France's side.

Captain Riley of the Reliant and the rest of Laurence's former naval crew take command of the Allegiance, the transport that will take Laurence and Temeraire to China, a long and dangerous journey halfway around the world. On the way they will face danger from French warships, storms, and even a sea serpent.

Arriving in China, they find themselves caught in the middle of a complicated court intrigue. The prospective heir to the throne is paired with Temeraire's twin, and a powerful faction wants to see Temeraire matched to their own candidate to undermine the heir's position. The heir's supporters, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to get Temeraire out of the way -- permanently. And to make matters worse, Napoleonic agents at the court are ready to help either side, so long as it keeps Temeraire out of British hands.

Laurence and Temeraire must find a way to preserve the peace between Britain and China, while Temeraire struggles with his ties to his kindred, and his loyalty to his British friends.

Chronology: Dec 1805 - Sep 1806

Original Synopsis for Empire of Ivory

Empire of Ivory eventually became an amalgam of my synopses for book III and book IV -- and Black Powder War was inserted, um, largely because while I was busy writing book II, Todd McCaffrey published Dragonsblood, all about, you guessed it, a dragon plague. *g* So Betsy suggested I needed to postpone my own for a bit.

Something Rich and Strange
The Chronicle of Temeraire, Book III

Having obtained a treaty with China, Laurence and Temeraire are finally on their way home to Britain to rejoin the war effort against Napoleon. The journey is interrupted when their transport, the Allegiance, runs into a fleet of French warships sent into the Indian Ocean to prey on Britian's trade. The Allegiance escapes, but is badly damaged, and they are shipwrecked on the eastern coast of Africa. The French are patrolling the coast, looking for them, and their only hope of escape is to make an overland passage south to the Cape of Good Hope.

But sub-saharan Africa is wholly uncharted: no explorer has ever returned from the deep jungles. Wild dragons frequently come out of them to raid the human settlements along the coasts and in the north, taking cattle and treasure. In their journey, Laurence and Temeraire will discover the startling power behind the raids: a great dragon city in the heart of the jungle.

After many adventures, they manage to reach the Cape of Good Hope, just in time to meet Lily and the rest of the formation and join them in a daring attack on the French fleet.

Chronology: Feb 1807 - Aug 1807

The Chronicle of Temeraire, Book IV

At the height of the Napoleonic wars, a deadly plague is sweeping through the dragons of Britain, casting the Aerial Corps into disarray. Back at Cape Town after their triumph over the French in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Laurence and Temeraire and the rest of their formation learn that they cannot go home: their dragons must be kept away and safe from the disease, until it has fully run its course.

You don't get to see the rest of the original synopsis for Book IV because it is spoilery for future books. :D

I would ramble on a lot more about the changes but I am running around like mad getting ready to leave for Norwescon -- hope to see some of you there! Here's my schedule for the con.

And here for you to check out are links to more Plot Synopsis Project participants:
Plot Synopsis Project participant links:

Patricia Bray (pbray):

Chaz Brenchley (desperance):

Mike Brotherton:

Tobias Buckell:

S.C. Butler (scbutler):

Barbara Campbell:

David B. Coe (davidbcoe):

Jennifer Dunne (jennifer_dunne):

S.L. Farrell (sleigh):

Diana Francis (difrancis):

Gregory Frost frostokovich):

Felix Gilman:

Jim C. Hines (jimhines):

Jackie Kessler (jackiekessler):

Mindy Klasky (mindyklasky):

Misty Massey (madkestrel):

C.E. Murphy (mizkit):

Joshua Palmatier (jpsorrow):

Maria V. Snyder:

Jennifer Stevenson (smokingpigeon):

Michelle West (msagara):

Sean Williams (ladnews):

Kelly McCullough:
Tags: plot synopsis project
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