Sunday, November 30, 2008

Synopsis: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian Robeson is lost and alone in the mosquito-infested Canadian wilderness. The bush plane he was flying in to visit his father lies at the bottom of a lake with a dead pilot inside.

Good beginning.

Brian bumbles along the first few days after the accident and then experiences his ultimate low point when he sees a search plane but the pilot doesn╩╝t see him. After a failed suicide attempt Brian starts to embrace his situation.

You go from "bumbling" straight to a suicide attempt? We need a better sense of the despair that Brian feels to make suicide acceptable so soon in this synopsis. Perhaps it's best not mentioned here.

Armed with only a hatchet, Brian figures out how to make fire and procure food. He has way more setbacks and frustrations than successes but by not counting on being rescued Brian embarks on a life-path of survival as he physically, emotionally and spiritually becomes a part of the wilderness.

"Way more" is stylistically out of character for the text you're describing. Your synopsis should reflect your text whenever possible. Also: "life-path"? This sounds like new-age bibble in the face of a story about survival in the wilderness.

When rescue finally comes he meets it not as a scared, helpless kid but as a mature young man at home in his body and surroundings.

There's clearly the seed of a good survival story here, but there are enough inconsistencies in the way this synopsis was written that I think I would pass on seeing the manuscript.


Chris Eldin said...

One of my favorite books.
The first paragraph is excellent, but the rest is a mish-mash of plot points. I'm not feeling anything for the character. Brian is a compelling character, to me. There's even humor in there, with the fool birds and the those sour cherries....

And, btw, this is why I think it's really hard to write a synopsis. At least in a query you can get creative and capture the voice. The synopsis has to recount the book. And this brings up a question--is the synopsis used to sell the book to the agent or editor?

I am rambling, but with a short synopsis, I see not much difference between it and the query.

Anonymous said...

This is the super hard thing about synopsi in general, I find. In a query, which is so short, you can toss up the main elements and they can all come off sounding fresh and give you an urge to read. But this synopsis, along with ALL the rest don't give me any reason to read, they all sound bland, and I don't think it's the nature of the writer -- but of a synopsis itself. Anytime you've got to list off "happenings" it all sounds like a bad television show you've seen before.

Alone in the wilderness, check. Surviving on your own, check. A failed rescue attempt, check. Emerging as a more mature person, well, duh.

Sort of makes me wonder how anything gets published.

On the other hand, is EA suggesting that the writer shouldn't mention the suicide attempt AT ALL? I think that'd be a pretty important plot point.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

This made me laugh:

Alone in the wilderness, check. Surviving on your own, check. A failed rescue attempt, check. Emerging as a more mature person, well, duh.

Thanks. ;o)

Anonymous said...

I loved Hatchet :)

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