The following is from Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agents as part of a seminar on writing a novel synopsis. I've emphasized his questions and changes in BOLD.
11 year-old JEFF WILLIAMS and his best friend BEN STYLER play with models (MODELS?) trains in Jeff’s attic when two men from the 18th century pop into being right in front of them. The two men argue about a pocket watch that has gone missing and then promptly disappear again. The next day, Jeff and Ben find that pocket watch behind a boarded up wall in the attic.
They discover the true time traveling nature of the watch, but ultimately lose it to PROFESSOR FERGUSON, who is dating Jeff’s mom. Jeff’s dad has been missing for three years, having never returned home from a trip to China. The family lives in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania.
With the watch, Ferguson goes back in time and changes the outcome of the Revolutionary War. In the new 2009, the United States is a part of the massive global British Empire.
WHOA. BUT IF THE WHOLE WORLD HAS CHANGED, WOULDN'T THE BOYS CEASE TO EXIST? SHOULD THIS POINT BE ADDRESSED?
There is a world war going on, and the Jeff and Ben’s hometown is about to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. The boys, along with Jeff’s sister, travel to the Ferguson National Museum in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania and find Ferguson’s personal affects from the 18th century, including the time traveling watch. The children use the watch to go back in time to 1777 looking for Professor Ferguson.
They trace Ferguson back to Kennett Square where the Battle of Brandywine begins and they witness Ferguson give instructions to a local watchmaker to build another time traveling watch.
The kids follow the battle trying to avoid getting themselves killed. They come across a friend of Ferguson, who steals the watch from the children and runs away. He has been promised a tidy sum from Professor Ferguson for the timepiece.
At the river, during a lull in the battle, they find Ferguson getting ready to shoot George Washington, and intervene just in the nick of time. But Ferguson shoots Ben and runs away. They have to get Ben to a hospital, so they split up – Abby takes Ben to the hospital and Jeff will find Ferguson.
An explosion knocks Jeff out. When he comes to, he’s tied up by Ferguson who leaves Jeff alone as Ferguson runs off to kill Lafayette – another turning point in the Revolutionary War.
Jeff is rescued by his own father, who was a time traveler and disappeared three years ago. After a quick reunion and explanation as to what happened, they split up – Jeff to follow Ferguson, and Jeff’s dad, to help Ben and Abby.
Jeff finds Ferguson and wrestles with him to stop his plan. Ferguson’s friend shows up with the watch and Jeff is outnumbered. Just as it looks hopeless Jeff gets the pocket watch and sets it for 1862, just as Ferguson grabs him. They go back together.
Jeff and Ferguson square off alone in 1862. Jeff has the watch, but the frequent time jumps are causing him headaches, and can, in fact, kill him. He doesn’t care. He sets the watch back to 1777 and leaves Ferguson alone in 1862.
When Jeff return he is reunited with his father, Ben and Abby. The battle is over, but it turned out just the way it should have. Washington and Lafayette are both still alive. The father can now take Jeff, Ben and Abby home to a restored 2009.
Jeff’s dad destroys the last known watch, but the boys remind him of Ferguson’s homemade watch from Kennett Square. There’s one more left.
When he returns to his house, Jeff finds in the attic a two-hundred year old map. It outlines the existence of a home made time travel watch, and gives clues as to where it is buried. A new adventure awaits.
WOW. GOOD. KIND OF CUT AND DRY AT TIMES, BUT THAT IS THE NATURE OF THE BEAST. IF JEFF HAS ANY CHANGE OF CHARACTER DOWN THE STRETCH, PERHAPS THAT CAN BE IN HERE. BESIDES THAT, GOOD! I HAVE VERY LITTLE TO ADD.
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