To start with, on Saturday night, I joined Chris Lester and Seth Harwood at a delightful pub in Berkeley, CA called Jupiter. Between my fans, Seth’s fans, and Chris’ fans, we had about a dozen fans show up and the conversations went long, long, long into the night. Servicable food, great drinks, and even better banter – arguing about philosophy, talking future projects, discussing the finer points of history, religion, ethics, mythology, brains, and just about everything else.
After about 11 the bar got way too loud to hear people shouting across the table, so we adjourned across the street to a lovely gelato joint for more gabbing, loitering, and generally diserputable behavior. It was a great time, I met some fabulous people, got some new listeners, and then wound up sneaking into someone’s hot tub to skinny dip at the…oh, right. Sorry – that’s a different story.
Sunday morning came around like a smashing mirror. I’m rather gifted in the sense that I don’t need alcohol to give me a hangover, I get one naturally from the sun. That fusion reactor and I have a rather unsteady relationship, so if it suddenly goes out, you’ll know who finally sunk a Q-ball into the center pocket. Anyhow, I dragged my lazy keester out of bed and stumbled along to Silicon to attend a panel about self-promotion for new authors hosted by an editor who currently has Antithesis on his desk.
After the panel, he pulled me aside and told me that I could expect to hear back from him on the book soon (hooray!), but that irrespective of whether he wanted it I needed to do two things: 1) change the series title, and 2) rewrite the synopsis.
Regarding the title, it seems that “Antithesis” is a word that sends people looking for their dictionary much more often than it makes people think of forces in conflict, rebellions, and contradictions. It also is, for some reason, a good title for an RPG (a fact I found out on my own as I handed out cards for the podcast over the last week – – everyone thought it was a new RPG rather than a novel or a podcast, but not for a thriller. I suspected that the title was a bit cumbersome and would need a change, but I’m stumped as to what to change it to. Current candidates are “The Gods of our Children” and “And We Surveyed…” — if you have an opinion or a suggestion please leave a comment below.
As far as the synopsis, the particular issue is that it sounds too generic. This is my problem with synopses in general – they’re not ad copy, they’re supposed to be a sweeping description of the plot progression. Unfortunately, in a spy novel or any political story, there’s pretty much a formula that you’re tweaking: bad politicians, good politicians, crime lords, spies, someone who’s being framed/chased, someone who knows too much — let’s be honest, it’s all been done before, and done over, for a hundred and fifty years now (or longer, if you start with Hamlet). Like mysteries, what sets a thriller apart is not the trappings of the plot, it’s the richness of the setting, the depth of the characters, the style of execution.
So, knowing this, I got a couple friends who HAVE sold novels before (and thus, presumably, have a handle on how to write a good synopsis) and who read – and enjoyed – Predestination. The result was this very run-of-the-mill synopsis that technically fulfills all the requirements of a synopsis, and yet manages to make Predestination sound like every spy novel, political thriller, and science fiction novel ever written. Obviously, the way we all approached it is wrong. So, my second question for all of you reading, particularly if you’ve sold a novel or worked as an agent or editor: What do you *really* want out of a synopsis, particularly for a charater-driven story? It seems to me that a blow-by-blow plot synopsis (like I delivered) is not well suited to give a feel for the work.
Anyhow, that’s the weekend – a whole lot of great, a little bit of frustration, and some new challenges to chase down. This week, I’m rendering out the final FX shots for my short film Lights Out, which is destined for J.C. Hutchins’ Obsidian project, and hoping I can make the deadline. It’s all in the hands of the CPU gods now!