OK. the Writer's Voice contest has got me re-hashing my query letter (again) and I thought maybe I should deal with the synopsis. I'm having a really hard time determining what to put in my query letter because of the way the plot unfolds, and I can't seem to find a way to explain things in a way that make sense (worldbuilding, characters etc.) in a short period.
Anyway. Here's the full synopsis. I'm quite happy with it, but it's about 3x too long.
Help me figure out what to cut to make a one-page synopsis?
Adrian Montgomery, a recently-divorced and
anal-retentive (I'd difinitely show this detail in the MS but I'd skip it in the Synop.)
social worker, is obsessed with the recent disappearance of a young client. Before the child disappeared, he gave Adrian a drawing depicting a monster he called The Nightmare Man – a monster that haunts
recognizes from somewhere
, but he
can’t quite remember why.
His search for the child leads him through a doorway into
Tagestraum, a faerie world built from human dreams. There he meets Sonia, a faerie who
se job is to (I keep pitching the Wile E. Coyote and the sheep dog clocking in/out, taking lunch breaks.)
to humans who
have stumbled through breach
the portal and into her world. She finds
fascinating. She’s never met any other grown-up who could survive in the irrational and chaotic world; the journey into Tagestraum usually tears apart the adult psyche
sanity of any adult human that ventures into it
Each night, Darkness falls over Tagestraum – a terrifying night that causes people to relive their worst memories and slowly eats away at their sanity. In the Darkness, Adrian’s troubled past unfolds piecemeal: the tragic accident that claimed his little sister’s life –
an accident which he believes was
his fault -- and the way his family
began to fall fell
apart afterward the failed friendships and relationships--all his fault
kept these memories
in his mind
, even denying that he
had a sister, but the Darkness forces him to remember and tears down the locked doors in his mind.
There are only a few things that keep the Darkness at bay, and the most powerful of these is human dream energy. Most dreams are colored vapor that can be used in crafting or burnt as fuel, but some – the strongest – are corporeal. Harvested dreams are highly sought-after not only because they can stave off Darkness in an area, but also because consuming them can provide faeries with super powers. Dreams are dangerous, however, and their use is both addictive and destructive. (I'd move this up, preceding the stuff about Adrian.)
Sonia, concerned about Adrian’s continued survival in Tagestraum, convinces him to journey with her to the Gatekeeper, a powerful faerie who can transport him home. They travel partway with Lorelai, a super-powered and dream-addicted merchant. (This is )
Lorelai, seeing the potential profit in Adrian as both an oddity and a potential source of dream energy, drugs him and smuggles him away from Sonia.
Lorelai’s prospective buyer, the queen, maintains the primary population of dreams anywhere in Tagestraum. She has a problem, though: someone has been stealing dreams away from her kingdom. She is excited about using Adrian for dream energy to feed her own addiction, but quickly discovers that his dreams are useless to her: they are too tainted with painful memories.
The queen reels in pain and orders Adrian out of her sight. Just then, the dream thief returns – The Nightmare Man,
the same person as had kidnapped
. Adrian finally recognizes him for who he is: a nightmare from his own childhood. In the ensuing chaos as guards try to catch the thief, Adrian escapes and reunites with Sonia, who had followed Lorelai’s tracks.
Together, they finish their journey to the Gatekeeper. Rather than going home, however, Adrian makes the choice to find The Nightmare Man instead. Sonia, exasperated that he’s not taking his only opportunity to escape, follows after him. Together, they walk through a
ightmarish (Implied.)moryscape built from Adrian’s worst memories; he battles through, (sell the drama) ignores them and they finally reach the cave where The Nightmare Man has been keeping his stolen dreams.
Nathaniel is there. So is Samantha, Adrian’s dead little sister – or, rather, a dream-version of her. Everything begins to fall into place: Samantha is a lonely and isolated dream, locked away in a nightmare the way that Adrian has always locked away his memories. The Nightmare Man, in an attempt to bring her friends, has been stealing other dreams – and Nathaniel, hoping that it would lure Adrian in to keep them company.
Meanwhile, Lorelai – angered at having not been paid by the queen and eager to get her dream fix somewhere else – decides to follow Adrian and Sonia to search for the dream thief and his accompanying collection of dreams. When the Gatekeeper refuses to show her the right door, Lorelai murders him; this action causes some of the connections in the world to break apart. She finds the doorway on her own and appears in The Nightmare Man’s cave, mad with dream energy and beginning to suffer the consequences of her addiction. (Candy!)
She begins killing the dreams that The Nightmare Man has been keeping hostage. She goes after Samantha, but The Nightmare Man gets between them and sacrifices himself. With his death, the cave begins to collapse as the dreamscape tears itself apart. Adrian harnesses his own dream power to create a portal out of the cave, and he and Nathaniel manage to escape; he’s reluctant, wanting to stay behind and make sure that Sonia and Samantha get out safely, but Sonia forces him to leave.
When they come out on the other side, Adrian is exhausted and disoriented. Things begin to blur together, as if from a dream, and he completes the rest of his day mechanically. Nathaniel reunites with his mother. Adrian ignores nosy phone calls from the press about his discovery of the missing child. He calls his estranged brother and they talk long into the night for the first time since their childhood.
That night, Adrian awakens to discover Sonia in his bedroom; she’s cradling a sleepy Samantha and assures him that his dream will be well cared-for and never lonely again. She cannot linger long in his world, but she stays with him until he falls asleep once more.