Summarizing your story aka FML

WTFDOIPUTHEREI think, once you’ve hit a critical mass of content, you become a pretty good judge of the quality of a story. Like, no one had to tell you Harry Potter was well-written, or that Star Wars was epic (unless you’re one of those people – jk, love you too) and you knew you were going to see The Matrix a second time – right?

Or maybe I’m just getting old.

ANYWAY… this is kinda why I think my story is halfway decent and certainly fun to read. I couldn’t even tell you how many movies I’ve seen, or hours I’ve read, or TV shows I’ve watched… goddess! The hours spent ingesting stories could easily be the single most dominant activity of my life, beyond schooling or work hours and sleep.

But, how do I make that clear to you, the reader. How can I summarize my story in a way that doesn’t spoil anything, but still makes its awesomeness apparent. That is a flipping difficult question.

Now, for my next stupendous maneuver, I’m going bare my soul and show you guys the originals, why I hated them, the revision – and how I did that, then what I ultimately ended up deciding on. I’d love to know if you thought I did a decent job – or not – just try to keep criticism constructive. I tell myself my writing sucks enough as it is. 🙂

Okay… like jumping into freezing water, I’m just gonna do it:

Alex is seventeen years old and about to graduate, but what he didn’t expect was to crush on the new boy at school. Coming out to his friends and family is just the beginning. At the same time, Alex finds he has latent psychic potential, being able to feel emotions from other people as if they were his own. Danger lurks around the corner as a mysterious stranger foreshadows tragedy in the not-too-distant future.

Shift is a juvenile dragon on the run, . First born dragon in a thousand rotations, Shift has the unique ability to jump dimensions. A new friend and a reluctant teacher help Shift learn to develop his native gifts.

Spark is an Ethry, also called Watchers or Guardian Spirits, the Ethry observe the multiverse and help maintain balance. His role is to protect Shift and Alex – Twin Souls in parallel worlds – come together so they can protect both their realms from the darkness.
Twin Souls is an action-packed adventure across two worlds, ours included. You’ll follow Alex and Shift on their journey as they make new friends, discover disturbing truths, and fight incredible odds in order to protect the people they love.

Eep, egads! It hurts me to read it. I didn’t like it because it’s too straight-forward. It’s boring. It’s a description of my main characters – which is useful – but it comes off feeling dry. There’s no emotion. I had no idea what to do. So I emailed my boyfriend. He’s a dear. This is his book, go buy it. 😉

His improvement went something like this:

 One human.

One dragon.

Two worlds.

One epic adventure.

Alex is seventeen years old, about to graduate high school, but what he didn’t expect was to crush on the new boy at school. Yet coming out to his friends and family is just the beginning when Alex begins to discover he has latent psychic potential, being able to feel emotions from other people as if they were his own. Danger lurks around the corner as a mysterious stranger foreshadows tragedy in the not-too-distant future, and suddenly Alex’s world is turned upside down.

Shift is a juvenile dragon on the run. The Matriarch, ruler of Dra’kar, has her minions hunting him. First born dragon in a thousand rotations, Shift has the unique ability to jump between dimensions. A new friend and a reluctant teacher help Shift learn to develop his native gifts.

Spark is an Ethry, also called Watchers or Guardian Spirits, who observe the multiverse and help maintain balance. Spark must protect and guide Shift and Alex, twin souls in parallel dimensions destined to join forces and stop an oncoming darkness that threatens to overtake both of their worlds.

Way better, right? But still, the problem for me is in the formatting and the style. It’s too dry. So I gave my brain a day to stew on it. With my notebook in hand, I went on my fire-escape and started writing this:

Their fate was to be hunted because they were different. Now, twin souls in (parallel dimensions)(different worlds) must discover one another, and themselves, in order to save both their (planets)(worlds)(realms) from being conquered by (demonic entities)(the Dark Ethry, a race of extra-dimensional aliens).

Alex meets Aaron, the first guy he’s ever been attracted to.

Jan is secretly in love with her best friend, Alex – and with five black-belts protecting him has been easy – until now…

Chris struggles with a deep (regret) (dark secret) (painful past) and will do anything to (make it right)(balance the scales)(make up for it) (set things right)

Controversial, funny & action-packed, Twin Souls was an honest attempt to create a young adult story with a gay protagonist. Inspired by Joss Whedon’s work as well as the Marvel & Star War Universes…

Yeah, so that pittled out wrong, but the intro was right. There’s also this little tiny lie in there that I told, so I had to nix that out. I’ll let you figure it out.

One boy…

One dragon…

Two worlds – one epic adventure.

Their fate was to be hunted because they were different. Now, twin souls across two dimensions must find one another, and find themselves in order to save both worlds from utter domination.

Alex meets Aaron, the first guy he’s ever been attracted to.  Alex begins to discover he has latent psychic potential, being able to feel emotions from other people as if they were his own. Danger lurks around the corner as a mysterious stranger foreshadows tragedy in the not-too-distant future, and suddenly Alex’s world is turned upside down.

Shift is on the run. Lady Raxis, The Matriarch, Ruler of Dra’kar wishes to enslave the young dragon for his unique ability to cross dimensions. With her ability to force others to fall in love with her, she has nearly complete control of Shift’s native homeworld and the nine races that share it.

Spark is an Ethry, also called Watchers or Guardian Spirits – they observe the multiverse and help maintain balance, but they have no physical body. Spark must help Alex and Shift come together if they are to have any chance at remaining free.

I think that’s the best version. It teases the main characters, draws you in with some emotional language, and sets the stakes. Get the idea? Does that make you wanna read the book? Was this useful for you or just me mentally masturbating? Let me know in the comments!

Edit: I left it for a week and rethought about it. I still hate it. New! Better! Improved:

Alex was just another nerd, trying to be normal. When the new guy at a school turns out to be gay their attraction threatens to reveal his secret to the world. In 2016, coming out is easier than you’d expect, but dealing with new psychic powers is not. Soon, Alex is sensing the emotions of those close to him, and using them to fuel his newfound power. It won’t be long until someone wants to control him.

Shift has been running since birth. The first-born dragon in over a thousand years, his destiny is to save Dra’kar from the tyrannical Lady Raxis. A recalcitrant teacher & a ditzy dryad must help him learn to master his ability to shift between dimensions before they are discovered.

Spark likes to watch, in fact, it’s all he’s supposed to do. Light Ethry observe and record all happenings across the physical plane while staying out of sight. But when Dark Ethry begin to manipulate events in the physical realms he can no longer stay hidden and must contact his wards.

“SciFi? Fantasy? Twin Souls blends them both into a YA smoothy dappled with action, romance and tragedy.” – Some random guy on the street I bribed with a dollar

“It’s not a ‘gay’ story, which makes it unique. It’s a YA story with a gay protagonist. Definitely something new.” – The A New Yorker, not me, I swear.

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That one-page synopsis…

No spoilers! Ahh, but that’s the hard part.

Twin Souls is a blend of YA fantasy and sci-fi elements which should be familiar to readers of those genres. Alex, my precocious teenage protagonist, is struck by a sudden attraction to a new guy at school – Aaron. He’s confused by his feelings, as they’re getting mixed up with whomever he shares close proximity. Alex is a psychic; he doesn’t know it yet, but being able to sense other people’s feelings is just the beginning of his abilities.

Alex’s best friend, Jan, supports him through Aaron’s tragic disappearance. It’s up to them to figure out who took him, and why. The police can’t be trusted, a mysterious stalker and a free-energy device of Alex’s own design are all embroiled in the conundrum. Just when they’re starting to get some answers, Alex makes contact with a hyperdimensional life form named Spark, who informs him everything is much more complicated.

Spark is a Light Ethry, also called Watchers or Guardians. Their job is to passively observe or occasionally support mortals as they achieve their karmic destinies. They’re opposed by the Dark Ethry, demonic intelligences that have fallen and become hungry for mortal lives, their emotions and their souls.

Spark introduces Alex to the idea that he has a twin soul. In this case, Alex’s twin soul is a dragon named Shift who resides on Dra’kar, a parallel world. Shift has the unique ability to hop between dimensions, and on his world it’s prophesied that bringing a human to Dra’kar is the only way they can upend the rule of Raxis, the tyrannical Matriarch. To this end, we follow Shift as he’s pursued by Raxis’ minions, befriends Puck, a goofy-yet-loveable Dryad, and finds himself a mentor that can teach him how to make the shift between dimensions.

What happened to Aaron and can Alex save him? What do the Dark Ethry have planned for Earth and how does it relate to what happened on Dra’kar? Will Alex & Shift be able to master their abilities and discover how they must use them in order to protect their loved ones and save both their worlds from utter domination? Am I a halfway decent writer able to enthrall my readers with loveable characters and an intriguing plot? Find out this and more in The Adventures of Alex, Shift & Spark: Twin Souls.