Despite not having much experience in writing synopses (I have only ever submitted Dieu Et Mon Droit once before and got some useful feedback – though that was about eight years ago) I found it relatively easy breaking the novel down into two pages for the Angry Robot Open Doors (submitted today by the way so wish me luck on them being kind on it!). Ignore the side stories – or at least reduce them to a sentence or two – and focus on the stuff that is important to the wider plot.
I came up against a stumbling block – how to classify it. I finally went with “alternate future history”. This is the first paragraph from the synopsis which explains the reason for my thinking:
The Cuban Missile Crisis led to a nuclear war that rendered much of the world uninhabitable. From the ashes of the old world rises a new church in Europe “The Knights of Christ”. Blaming technology for “The Cleansing Fire”, they have outlawed most technologies and have regressed Europe back to a medieval world. They persecute Catholics and Protestants alike. There are few Jews or Muslims in this new Europe.
So that got that out of the way. Then I was confronted with my elevator pitch – basically to sum up the entire novel in one sentence. This is what I came up with:
In a post-apocalyptic future medieval world, a tyrannical church finds an unlikely challenger – one of their own Archbishops.
That is the hub of the story and it leaves out a murdered king, an evil Cardinal determined to create an empire, an assassin who redeems himself and in so doing uncovers a plot surrounding his childhood (which is coming to an explosive set of revelations on the sequel) and the medieval battles. Of course in one sentence you cannot convey too much of the story but you must grab the person to whom you are attempting to sell the idea.
Anybody else submitted to Angry Robot? If so, it will be interesting to hear your one sentence summaries!