Thursday, February 1, 2018

Synopsis Critique #14: YA High Fantasy

And now, it's time for this week's synopsis critique! The author of SENTERRA LEGENDS: ARMS OF DESTINY, a YA High Fantasy, submitted this synopsis. My in-line comments are [blue and in brackets], and I'll include a summary at the end. Feel free to comment below!

If you'd like a primer on how to write a synopsis, see my posts here and here. And if you want your synopsis critiqued on this website, fill out the form here, or email your 1-2 page synopsis to me at, and I'll post one critique per week (NOTE: I'll email my critique to the author as soon as I'm done, so the author won't have to wait to see his/her synopsis on the site). Thanks for participating!


As [how old is he? Are there any other identifying characteristics you can include?] DYMER (does not know his own name)[you don’t need this unless it’s significant. Enough to say he’s an orphan] heads out to do the week's shopping for the orphanage [can you add something like, ‘the orphanage he’s lived in his whole life,’ or something else that gives the reader a character detail?], he runs into CIGMA, a girl who should not be alive [what does this mean?]. He learns that she is looking for her aunt and decides to help her escape her pursuers [who is pursuing her? Why?]. Meanwhile, DYWELF (one of the strongest magicians in the land) is mourning the son he lost ten years ago and runs into Dymer [while he and Cigma are escaping? What happens when they run into each other?]. Things come to a head when two powerful beings [who are they?] come for Dymer, and he is asked to run for cover by MATRON. Matron and Dywelf fend off the pursuers. [Four named characters is a LOT for the first paragraph. I’d include Dymer and Cigma, and leave the others out for now. You can describe Dywelf as ‘one of the strongest magicians in the land’ and leave out Matron for now, since the last part of this pargraph is pretty vague. Focus on what Dymer has to do, rather than what others are doing for him]

Thus begins Dymer’s journey through the world of Senterra, as he meets an Echo Beast [what is this? The reader won’t know] and learns of his own [real/true] name, before traversing through dangerous forests with Cigma as he helps her find her aunt [is her aunt someone significant?]. By chance, they run into Dywelf again at the castle of the CROW [no need to capitalize this one, but do explain why this family is significant. Below, we learn it’s an evil family. Include that here] family but do not get a chance to speak with him. They rescue SAMSON [who is this?] from the clutches of the evil Crow family and eventually manage to find Cigma's aunt, who turns out to be Dymer's orphanage matron [had Dymer and Cigma ever met before this?]. Samson is revealed to be an Imbued Tortengof, a highly sought-after humanoid [sought after by who? Why?].

Matron [I’d identify her as ‘the matron’ or ‘Cigma’s aunt.’ There are enough named characters in the synopsis already] informs them that Cigma and she herself are both being hunted [why?]. Faced with the difficult decision of where to look for sanctuary, they decide to venture towards Authet, the central city-state where all spellcasters [are they spellcasters? If so, tell the reader earlier] are sorted into different houses based on their latent abilities. Dymer is made to lie [about what?] and take on the family name FAOSSTIN, [instead of using the name, just say ‘take on the family name of…’] one of the three crown families in the land. All this while, LEPAUG (an other-worldly being) and TOGRIN BALMUNG (Chief Tracker) [rephrase this as ‘All this while, an other-worldly being [and describe it] and the Chief Tracker…’] are hunting them down and closing in.

As all three are sorted into the house Sylwenbard [instead of naming it, say they’re all sorted into the same house], Matron urges them on westward but Togrin Balmung [change to ‘the Chief Tracker’] catches up to them [why does he want them?]. In the ensuing battle, Matron sacrifices herself so that the three can escape. They run into Dywelf again, and proper introductions are made. [What does this mean? Haven’t they all met already?]

Dywelf agrees to help them, but things get more complicated as Dymer learns that Dywelf's full name is Dywelf Faosstin [this doesn’t mean much standing alone. Is the significance that Dywelf and Dymer are related?], and Dywelf too feels conflicted. Before they can discuss any of this, both Lepaug and Togrin Balmung [change to ‘the Chief Tracker’] catch up with them in the city of Dos Erina [don’t need this name. Just say, ‘in a neighboring city,’ if that’s accurate]. Dywelf promises to stop at least one of them and delay the other.

Reluctantly, the three children [are the three Dymer, Cigma, and Samson? We haven’t heard anything about Samson since they rescued  him. If he’s significant, give a little more detail earlier] leave Dywelf behind to deal with the two pursuers as they make their way towards the Cave of Six Paths, a very dangerous place but also their only option [why is it dangerous and why is it their only option?]. Inside the Cave, Samson comes alive [you don’t need to say he comes alive unless he is literally doing so. Just say he takes the lead] and takes the lead because he instinctively feels he can navigate the intricate tunnels. However, they realise that Togrin Balmung [the Chief Tracker] has once again caught up with them and there is no way out. As Cigma and Samson are knocked out, Dymer is cornered by Balmung [the Chief Tracker]. However, displaying a rare breed of spellcasting [what does he do, exactly?], he manages to fend off Togrin Balmung [the Chief Tracker] and deal a telling blow.

Dywelf and another man find them in the nick of time and the day is saved. The man is revealed to be the Headmaster of Sewellyn's School for Spellcasters & Spellweavers, and he offers them all safety [in/at] his school.


This sounds like a really interesting story! The synopsis leans a little too heavily on the reader understanding why each of these characters is significant to the story, without giving those details. Spell it out more – I’ve indicated in the synopsis where I want more information. Make sure you include character motivations (why does Togrin want to find these kids? Why are the matron and the magician bending over backwards to protect them?).

Try to keep the synopsis to 4-5 named characters – it gets character-name soupy otherwise, especially in Fantasy, when so many of the names are made up. You can use character descriptions instead of proper names, and that’ll do the trick. For example, you can describe Dywelf throughout the synopsis as ‘the magician’ and Togrin as ‘the Chief Tracker,’ and that’ll be understandable to a reader.

Overall, this is nicely written and I can track the main plot throughout the synopsis. Work on paring down the character names and answering some of my questions, and you should have a thorough, tight synopsis. Best of luck!

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