So, last week, I promised to post my own synopsis. Here’s one for an as-yet-unsold novel. I don’t follow my own formula perfectly (for a series of long, boring reasons that I’m not going to go into here…) Nevertheless, I mostly stick with the formula I shared. Obviously, on this website, you can’t see proper formatting, but assume that I nailed that, okay? In comments, let me know what you think — does the synopsis hold your interest? Does it show you the development of the main characters? Does it give you a view of what the novel is actually about?
* * * BEGIN SYNOPSIS * * *
ASHLEY WARNER is a typical high school senior: a good daughter to her widowed father, a great friend to the brilliant, high-strung KAYLA BARKER, and the somewhat unlikely girlfriend of Lincoln High’s ultra-popular All State pitcher, BRANDON METHENY. Ashley understands the way her world works; she lives and breathes social rules and academic expectations. Her life is in perfect order until she gets hit with after-school detention for a minor offense. Until she meets ZACHARY JACOBS.
Zachary is the guy no one likes. Saddled with the moniker “Super Nazi” since an elementary school prank, the computer genius is a repeated victim of bullying. His lunch is stolen; he’s tripped in the classroom aisle. Everything Zachary does seems doomed to draw the wrong sort of attention from the popular kids.
Nevertheless, Ashley finds herself spending a lot more time with Zachary after she volunteers to help overworked Kayla with the school literary arts magazine, Crossroads. Due to funding cuts, the magazine is being published electronically for the first time, and Zachary’s computer skills are vital to a successful launch.
Ashley helps Kayla with another task—the distribution of Valentines Day carnations as a Student Council fundraiser. Ashley is astonished to receive a full bouquet from Brandon, and she’s proud of the attention—until Brandon informs her that he expects sex as a fair trade for the flowers. When Ashley refuses, Brandon flies into a rage. Their break-up is soon brutally public.
Ashley’s life begins a new trajectory. She’s no longer a happy, well-adjusted senior; rather, she is astonished to discover her classmates’ cruelty. When Zachary is beaten by Brandon’s friends, Ashley stands with the outcast. Day by day, she finds herself more isolated, more separate from the easy school life she’s always known. These changes create friction with both Kayla and her father.
A chance encounter between Ashley and Brandon’s mother leads the jocks to take major revenge for Ashley’s perceived impertinence. They draw a compromising caricature of Ashley on the bathroom wall and add the legend, “ASH TAKES CASH.” Ashley’s excision from Lincoln’s mainstream society is complete; her only friend is Zachary. (Kayla is so wrapped up in academic challenges that she’s unable to help.)
By spring break, Ashley is grateful to escape the hallways of Lincoln High. She spends time at Zachary’s house, working on the final formatting for Crossroads. While there, she discovers that Zachary’s life is very different from hers. He is distanced from his unemotional father, and he is infantilized by his mother. Ashley is both compelled and repulsed by the shooting range target displayed in Zachary’s room—the one relic of positive time shared with his father.
While working on the magazine, Zachary reveals a plagiarized submission from Brandon. Ashley reports the violation to school officials, but Brandon manages to escape censure. Nevertheless, Brandon seeks revenge. He shares a website with all of Lincoln High—www.AshTakesCash.com. Disgusted by the graphic images and sickened by the lurid text, Ashley spurns ineffectual support from Kayla and turns to Zachary.
The computer genius hacks into Brandon’s account and takes down the revolting website, adding substantial charges to Mrs. Metheny’s usurped credit card. Still stunned, Ashley spends the night with Zachary. They bond (chastely) through their shared pain, through their unjustified victimization at the hands of Lincoln’s bullies.
By the light of day, things are more complicated. Brandon, enraged by the hacked charges on his mother’s account, threatens bloody vengeance. When Ashley phones Zachary to warn him, he crystallizes into a different person. He instructs Ashley not to come to school the following day, and then he refuses to say more.
Panicked by Zachary’s implied threat, she runs to his home and discovers him holding a handgun. Alone in the house with a boy pushed past endurance, Ashley begins the argument of her life. She begs Zachary to think about the families of the boys he will murder. She pleads with him to imagine the penalties he’ll pay—prison or execution. She tries to make him understand how his actions will destroy his parents. Ultimately, she demands that he recognize the impact his actions will have on her—on the girl who knew him, who understood him, who could be held as an accessory to his crime.
Zachary only breaks when he realizes the harm he will bring to Ashley. He sobs and pleads with her, trying to explain that he only wanted to keep her safe. Ashley comforts him, but she demands that he reach out for help—to his parents, to a school counselor. Ultimately, Zachary agrees to give the gun to Ashley’s father. Ashley places the call and settles down to wait, unspeakably relieved that disaster has been averted.
In a brief epilogue, Ashley relates that Zachary is getting the mental health treatment that he needs. She is working on her own emotions—anger and fear and sorrow. She’s healing, patching things up with Kayla and reaffirming her bond with her father. And she’s eager to head to college in the fall, to a new life free from the bullying and violence of Lincoln High.
* * * END SYNOPSIS * * *