Author Topic: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller  (Read 166 times)

Offline godisjealous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 1
SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« on: September 10, 2021, 12:27:45 AM »
I am new to writing queries and synopses and the forum. This is my first synopsis. Please let me know if you find the story engaging and if and how the synopsis needs alteration.

It’s 1894, and BLACK FLAG burns, bombs and butchers hostages for their cause of revolution in Europe. IVAN, a dedicated police detective, ardent Russian patriot, and reluctant and secret Jew, investigates the crimes of the anarchists in Moscow. His fanatical devotion to his career and country aggravates SARAH, his wife.

The Ministry of the Interior assigns Ivan to the TSAR’S security detail at an upcoming meeting with the French at the summer palace: Black Flag has an assassin waiting in the wings. Ivan also gets a telegram from a “secret cell” in the palace telling him the Tsar will exile Russia’s Jews, so he better come to the palace and wait for further orders.

The Tsar, who is sick, meets with his advisor, the TUTOR, and signs the Emergency Act. The decree designates the Tutor as the heir to power. The Tsar thinks his son, NICHOLAS, is incapable. They also discuss the Manifesto, an act to exile millions of Russian Jews. But the Tsar postpones signing the order until the meeting. The Tsar’s health recovers.

At the palace, the Tutor tells Ivan the Tsar is (seemingly) planning to exile Russian Jews and that the only way to stop him is to poison the Tsar’s tea with Paris Green, a paint the Tsar uses for his artwork.

Ivan and fellow investigator, NIKITIN, interrogate the French delegation at the summer palace, determining which diplomat could be a secret Black Flag operative likely to murder the Tsar.

Ivan meets MARTA, the Tsar’s children’s governess, and they have a Jewish sabbath dinner. Although Ivan is still wavering in his Jewishness, he becomes sure he hates the Tsar. Ivan poisons the Tsar’s tea during the meeting but is unsuccessful in the assassination attempt. Later, the Tsar’s presence shocks Ivan while he’s painting in the library. Ivan thought he was dead.

The Tsar shows his work to Ivan in his studio while Ivan thinks about shooting him. The Tsar introduces Ivan, a fellow artist and a new friend, to his family, with whom he bonds. Ivan’s mind changes: The Tsar is devoted to Russia and is not such a bad fellow!

Ivan finds and kills the soon-to-be assassin, saving the Tsar. The Minister of the Interior promotes Ivan on the telephone, and Ivan’s ambitions seem satisfied.

Marta, who is also the Tutor’s lover, reveals telegrams from the Tutor showing he’s behind the plan to throw out Russian Jews. Ivan then plots to assassinate the Tutor but is unsuccessful.

The Tsar gets sick again and dies, and the Tutor takes power and installs a black-shirted regime. Ivan, having gone home, finds Moscow in disorder because of the chaotic succession. He gets a letter from the police dismissing him; the municipality, who discovers Ivan is a Jew, evicts him from his Moscow home. Lastly, Sarah writes she’s hiding in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.

Ivan, a.k.a. Jonathan Wolff (his real, Jewish name), is public enemy number one of the Tutor’s Greater Slavic Nation, the heir to Romanov Russia. The regime propaganda blames for the murder of the Tsar and leading a Jewish conspiracy attempting to destroy Christian civilization.

Black Flag finds, kidnaps, and sells Ivan to the Tutor for the reward money. The Tutor’s henchman, who knows of Sarah and his SON’S location, gets Ivan to sign a confession admitting to a trumped-up conspiracy. The Tutor’s lieutenant is about to execute Ivan, but Ivan’s sympathetic terrorist friends, ANYA and ERNEST, rescue him. Ivan finds the Tutor is holding Sarah and his son in his citadel in Vladivostok. The Tutor enjoys the company of Jewish women.

Ivan, Anya, and Ernest take the train to Vladivostok to meet other Black Flag operators, and go to a cabaret to get weapons to raid the citadel. However, Black Flag suspects Ivan collaborates with the enemy and blows up the cabaret, killing Anya, Ernest and the drunken sailors inside. Ivan escapes and ends up raiding the fortress alone, saving Sarah and his son. The forces of the Tsar’s brother defeats the Tutor’s army and arrest the usurper, the Tutor.

Ivan realizes he misdirected his love of country, and he and his family immigrate to New York. In the ending scene, his son paints the Statue of Liberty with Paris Green.

Offline susan-louise

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 4
Re: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2021, 07:29:44 AM »
Hello there, godisjealous.  This is my second attempt to post a reply as I had trouble highlighting my text!

 I was drawn to your synopsis as love Russian history, so the premise of an alternative spin was interesting and made me wish to read more, so well done.    I have some suggestions, which may or may not help make the synopsis more powerful.  A tip that works well for me is writing two  – the dreaded one pager and the longer version  (surprisingly often required. Indeed my longer version was recently responsible for a full request from an agent). So it’s good to have both up your writerly sleeves 😊 and sometimes, in writing the longer one, it helps locate any crinkles in the manuscript itself. 

My main problems were understanding:-

1.    Ivan’s hatred for the Tsar which is not clearly articulated other than the implied reason that he is anti-Jewish.  His transition from hatred to acceptance is less credible, if only based on their shared love of art.  Again, not criticising merely giving my initial thoughts.
2.   the Tutor’s motivation for betraying the Tsar’s Edict to Ivan

My suggestions are in blue, btw.

It’s 1894, and BLACK FLAG burns, bombs and butchers hostages for their cause of revolution in Europe. IVAN, a dedicated police detective, ardent Russian patriot, and reluctant and secret Jew, investigates the crimes of the anarchists in Moscow. His fanatical devotion to his career and country aggravates SARAH, his wife.

Good introduction but could you cull some of the verbs here?  For example

It’s 1894 and BLACK FLAG bombs and butchers hostages for its revolutionary cause.  IVAN, a dedicated police detective, (could you remove ardent because a patriot is well, ardent!) Russian patriot, and reluctant and secret Jew (could you choose one word not two here?  Just thinking about it and having read it 3 times, maybe more powerful to say “secret Jew because this really plays into the plot), investigates the crimes of the anarchists in Moscow. His fanatical devotion to career and country aggravates SARAH, his wife. 

The Ministry of the Interior assigns Ivan to the TSAR’S security detail at an upcoming meeting with the French in the summer palace where Black Flag has an assassin waiting in the wings. Ivan also gets a telegram from a “secret cell” in the palace saying the Tsar will exile Russia’s Jews, so he should come immediately (you don’t need to repeat palace) and await further orders.

The ailing Tsar meets with his advisor, the TUTOR, and signs the Emergency Act designating him as heir to the throne convinced that his son, NICHOLAS, is incapable (of ruling?). They discuss the Manifesto, an act to exile millions of Russian Jews.  However, the Tsar postpones signing the order until the meeting (sorry…confused here: which meeting? The one with the French?)  The Tsar’s health improves.

At the palace, the Tutor tells Ivan the Tsar is seemingly (I would remove seemingly – surplus here) planning to exile Russian Jews and that the only way to stop him is to poison the Tsar’s (his) tea with Paris Green, a paint the Tsar uses for his artwork.  (I am confused now.  Because I thought the Tutor was anti-Jewish?  Perhaps you need to clarify this and why a) the Tutor wants to sabotage the edict and b) why he would confide in Ivan

Ivan and fellow investigator, NIKITIN, interrogate the French delegation at the summer palace, to determine which diplomat could be a secret Black Flag operative and likely to murder the Tsar.

Ivan meets MARTA, the Tsar’s children’s governess, and they have a Jewish sabbath dinner.  (Is she a secret Jew?  And just a little thought…wouldn’t the governess have been drawn from aristocratic circles and from Russian Orthodox faith?  And if the Tsar hates Jews, wouldn’t this have been researched very carefully before her appointment?? This is your story of course, but I would very respectfully suggest that even if you are writing an alternative history, there may be some things that need to be consistent with the flavour of the times.) Although Ivan is still wavering in his Jewishness, he becomes sure he hates the Tsar.

(Do you mean his Jewish faith wavers?  One way of writing it could be

Although Ivan’s Jewish faith wavers, he has come to hate the Tsar (or some such phrase) and poisons his tea during the meeting (which meeting??).

This might read better by removing “the assassination attempt fails” which you have written twice:

Later, Ivan is shocked that the assassination attempt has failed when he finds the Tsar painting in his library. Ivan thought he was dead. (This last bit is superfluous now if you go with the re-written suggestion)


The Tsar shows his work to Ivan (don’t need to repeat where he is) while Ivan thinks about shooting him. The Tsar introduces Ivan, a fellow artist and a new friend, to his family, with whom he bonds. Ivan’s mind changes: The Tsar is devoted to Russia and is not such a bad fellow! (This is very important for the synopsis as it seems to be an epiphany moment for Ivan…so might need to be a bit weightier…IMO)

Ivan finds and kills the soon-to-be assassin, saving the Tsar. The Minister of the Interior promotes Ivan on the telephone, and Ivan’s ambitions seem satisfied.

Marta, who is also the Tutor’s lover, reveals telegrams from the Tutor showing he’s behind the plan to throw out Russian Jews. Ivan then plots to assassinate the Tutor but is unsuccessful.

The Tsar gets sick again and dies, and the Tutor takes power and installs a black-shirted regime. Ivan, having gone home, finds Moscow in disorder because of the chaotic succession. He gets a letter from the police dismissing him; the municipality, who discovers Ivan is a Jew, evicts him from his Moscow home. Lastly, Sarah writes she’s hiding in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.  (Would she write this to him if as you say Jews are being widely arrested?  Perhaps you might need to think through how the secret message is despatched…unless of course you have couriers working for Ivan…)

Ivan, a.k.a. Jonathan Wolff (his real, Jewish name), is public enemy number one of the Tutor’s Greater Slavic Nation, the heir to Romanov Russia. The regime propaganda blames for the murder of the Tsar and leading a Jewish conspiracy attempting to destroy Christian civilization. (This is not clear: who does the new regime blame? Sentence structure needs clarity)

Black Flag finds, kidnaps, and sells Ivan to the Tutor for the reward money. The Tutor’s henchman, who knows of Sarah and his SON’S location, forces ? Ivan to sign a confession admitting to a trumped-up conspiracy. The Tutor’s lieutenant is about to execute Ivan, but his sympathetic terrorist friends, ANYA and ERNEST, rescue him. Ivan finds the Tutor is holding Sarah and his son in his citadel in Vladivostok. The Tutor enjoys the company of Jewish women. (This sentence has a nice bit of drama in it.  Is the Tutor as secret supporter of Jews? Or is this more of a sexual frisson.  Again, see my questions at the beginning of this little report)

Ivan, Anya, and Ernest take the train to Vladivostok to meet other Black Flag operators and go to a cabaret to get weapons to raid the citadel. However, Black Flag suspects Ivan collaborates with the enemy and blows up the cabaret, killing Anya, Ernest and the drunken sailors inside. Ivan escapes and ends up raiding the fortress alone, saving Sarah and his son. The forces of the Tsar’s brother defeats the Tutor’s army and arrest him as a usurper.

Ivan realizes he misdirected  his love of country, and he and his family immigrate to New York. In the closing scene, his son paints the Statue of Liberty with Paris Green.

Good luck with your synopsis!


Offline godisjealous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 1
Re: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2021, 08:53:06 PM »
I filled in a plot hole and made several important alterations. Thank you, Susan-Louise!

It’s 1894, and BLACK FLAG burns and butchers hostages for their cause of revolution in Europe. IVAN, a dedicated police detective, Russian patriot, and secret Jew, investigates the crimes of the anarchists in Moscow. His fanatical devotion to his career and country aggravates SARAH, his wife.

The Ministry of the Interior assigns Ivan to the TSAR’S security detail at an upcoming conference with the French at the summer palace: Black Flag has an assassin waiting in the wings. Ivan also gets a telegram from a “secret cell” in the palace. They know his secret Judaism and tell him the Tsar will exile Russia’s Jews. He must come and await further orders.

The ailing Tsar meets with his advisor, the TUTOR, and signs the Emergency Act. The decree designates the Tutor as the heir to power; the Tsar thinks his son, NICHOLAS, is incapable of ruling. They also discuss the Edict, an act to banish millions of Russian Jews. But the Tsar postpones signing the order until the conference.

The Tsar’s health improves.

When Ivan gets to the palace, the Tutor confirms the Tsar is planning to expel Russian Jews and that the only way to stop him is to poison the Tsar’s tea with Paris Green, a paint the Tsar uses for his paintings.

Ivan and fellow investigator interrogate the French delegation at the summer palace, determining which diplomat could be a secret Black Flag operative likely to murder the Tsar.

Ivan meets MARTA, the Tsar’s children’s substitute governess, and they have a Jewish sabbath dinner. Although Ivan is still wavering in his Jewishness, he wants to stop the exile of Jews. Ivan poisons the Tsar’s tea but is unsuccessful in the assassination attempt; the Tsar’s presence shocks Ivan while he paints in the library.

The Tsar shows Ivan his paintings to Ivan while the detective thinks about shooting him. The Tsar introduces Ivan, a fellow artist and a new friend, to his family, with whom he bonds. Ivan’s mind changes: The Tsar loves Russia and is not such a bad fellow!

Ivan finds and kills the soon-to-be assassin, saving the Tsar. The Minister of the Interior promotes Ivan on the telephone, and Ivan’s ambitions seem satisfied.

Marta, who is also the Tutor’s lover, reveals telegrams from the Tutor showing he is behind the plan to throw out Russian Jews. Ivan then plots to assassinate the Tutor, but is unsuccessful.

The Tsar gets sick again and dies, and the Tutor takes power and installs a black-shirted regime. The conspiracy reveals itself: The Tutor was the mastermind behind the Edict and the unnamed office and “secret cell” that blackmailed Ivan with his Judaism and framed him in the end.

Ivan manages to get home to find Moscow in disorder from the chaotic succession. He gets a letter from the police dismissing him; the municipality, who discovers Ivan is a Jew and evicts him from his Moscow home. Lastly, Sarah writes to him, telling him she is in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.

Ivan, a.k.a. Jonathan Wolff (his real, Jewish name), is public enemy number one of the Tutor’s Greater Slavic Nation, the heir to Romanov Russia. The regime’s propaganda blames Ivan for the murder of the Tsar and leading a Jewish conspiracy attempting to destroy Christian civilization.

Black Flag finds, kidnaps, and sells Ivan to the Tutor for the reward money. Knowing Sarah and their SON’S address in Siberia, the Tutor’s henchman gets Ivan to sign a confession admitting to a trumped-up conspiracy. The Tutor’s lieutenant is about to execute Ivan, but Ivan’s sympathetic terrorist FRIENDS rescue him. Ivan finds the Tutor is holding Sarah and his son in his citadel in Vladivostok. The Tutor enjoys the company of Jewish women.

The Tutor plans an invasion of the United States.

Ivan and his friends go to Vladivostok to meet other Black Flag operators and go to a cabaret to get weapons to raid the citadel. However, Black Flag suspects Ivan collaborates with the enemy and blows up the cabaret, killing his friends and the drunken sailors inside. Ivan escapes and ends up raiding the fortress alone, saving Sarah and their son, and stops the Tutor’s plans. The forces of the Tsar’s brother defeats the Tutor’s army and arrests the usurper.

Ivan realizes he misdirected his love of country, and he and his family immigrate to New York. In the ending scene, his son paints the Statue of Liberty with Paris Green.

Offline susan-louise

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 4
Re: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2021, 01:32:21 AM »
Glad the suggestions helped.  You have certainly tightened the synopsis.  I liked the plot amendment which brought credibility lacking before.   I would edit some of the paras more tightly before submitting your query.   Even small tweaks can add to the flow of what is a dramatic story.    An example:


The Tsar gets sick again and dies and the Tutor takes power and installs a black-shirted (black shirt??) regime. The conspiracy reveals itself: the Tutor was the mastermind behind the Edict and the unnamed officer and "secret cell" that blackmailed Ivan with his Judaism and framed him


Could become:

The Tsar gets sick again and dies. The Tutor seizes power and installs a black-shirted regime. The conspiracy is revealed: the Tutor was the mastermind behind the Edict, the unnamed officer and secret cell that blackmailed and ultimately framed Ivan .


Another idea:

Ivan manages to get home to find Moscow in disorder from the chaotic succession. He gets a letter from the police dismissing him; the municipality, who discovering Ivan is a Jew, and (delete and) evict him from his Moscow home. Lastly, Sarah writes to him, telling him she is in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.

Hmm.. in the tumultuous circumstances of a usurped succession and discovery of the Tutor's perfidy perhaps rather than "manages to get home", "flees" is stronger?"

Ivan flees and finds Moscow in turmoil from the chaotic succession etc etc.......


Best of luck.

Offline godisjealous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 1
Re: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2021, 06:53:51 PM »
Before was the two-page synopsis, and the tweaks are up to me now.

The following is the one-page synopsis. I would appreciate the help and thank you in advance.

It’s 1894, and BLACK FLAG terrorizes Europe. IVAN, a police detective, Russian patriot and secret Jew, investigates the anarchists in Moscow.

An unnamed office inside the Ministry of the Interior assigns Ivan to the TSAR’S security at an upcoming conference with the French: Black Flag is hiding an assassin among the French. From a “secret cell” in the palace, Ivan gets a telegram, seemingly knowing his secret identity. The message says the Tsar plans to exile millions of Russian Jews.

The ailing Tsar meets with his advisor, the TUTOR, and signs the Emergency Act making the Tutor the heir to power. They’re also ready to confirm the Declaration, the order to banish Russian Jews. But the Tsar postpones the order until the diplomatic conference when he feels better.

And the Tutor’s health improves.

At the palace, the Tutor confirms for Ivan the Tsar is planning to expel Jews. Ivan must poison his tea to stop the signing of the Declaration.

Ivan and his partner interrogate the French delegation at the palace. Who is the secret Black Flag operative plotting to murder the Tsar?

MARTA, the Tsar’s children’s substitute governess, invites Ivan to a Jewish Sabbath dinner. Although Ivan is still wavering in his Jewishness, he is eager to stop the Tsar’s plan. Ivan slips the poison into the Tsar’s tea but is unsuccessful in the assassination attempt; the Tsar’s presence shocks Ivan while he paints in the library.

The Tsar shows Ivan his own art studio, and Ivan considers shooting him. But they bond, and the Tsar introduces Ivan to his family. Ivan’s mind changes: The Tsar loves Russia and is not such a bad fellow!

Ivan finds and kills the Black Flag operator and saves the Tsar’s life. The Ministry promotes Ivan on the spot.

Marta shows telegrams from the Tutor showing he is really the one behind the plan to throw out Russian Jews. Ivan plots to assassinate the Tutor, but is unsuccessful.

The Tsar gets sick again and dies. The Tutor takes power and installs a black shirted regime. The Tutor seizes power and installs a black shirted regime, and the conspiracy is revealed. The Tutor was the mastermind behind the Declaration, the unnamed office, and secret cell that blackmailed and ultimately frames Ivan.

Ivan flees and gets to Moscow. He gets a letter from the police dismissing him and SARAH, his wife, writes telling him she is in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.

Ivan is public enemy number one of the new regime, charged for the murder of the Tsar and leading a Jewish conspiracy to take over Europe.

Ivan raids the Tutor’s citadel, saves Sarah (the Tutor has an interest in Jewish belles), and stops his scheme to invade the United States. The Tsar’s brother defeats the usurping army and arrests the Tutor.

Ivan realizes he misdirected his love of country, and he and his family immigrate to America.

Offline susan-louise

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 4
Re: SYNOPSIS The Plot to Kill the Tsar - Alternate History Thriller
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2021, 08:46:36 AM »
Good 1 pager  telling us all we need to know. Pace and drama working. Just a few things I spotted in these paragraphs:


Marta shows telegrams from the Tutor showing (you already have show...what about "revealing") he is ("really" - I would delete as it interrupts the flow here) the one behind the plan to throw out Russian Jews. Ivan plots to assassinate the Tutor, but( is unsuccessful) try fails - you already have "unsuccessful" when talking about his attempt to assassinate Tsar)

The Tsar gets sick again and dies. The Tutor takes seizes power and installs a black shirted regime. The Tutor seizes power and installs a black shirted regime, duplication of the sentence here and the conspiracy is revealed (exposed? As I suggested revealed in above para)  The Tutor was the mastermind behind the Declaration, the unnamed office, and secret cell that blackmailed and ultimately frames Ivan.[/color]

Ivan flees and gets to Moscow. He gets (two gets in one paragraph here, try "receives") a letter from the police dismissing him and SARAH, his wife, writes telling him she is in Siberia. The authorities are arresting Jews everywhere.

Ivan is now public enemy number one of the new regime, charged with the murder of the Tsar and leading a Jewish conspiracy to take over Europe.