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  1. #1
    Shane Sutliff
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Carla, It's been my experience that editors (or agents) seem to want the most brief, but complete description you can give them. It has to be good--the first sentence has to grab their attention, and the following sentences have to keep their attention. Thus far, I haven't yet encountered someone who wanted a chapter by chapter outline. My synopsis for my books, though, I squeeze into two to three pages. The best advice I could give you is to try to locate someone impartial to read your synopsis--someone who could be brutal even. This person should be someone who loves reading--the ideal person would be a lit instructor or someone like this. Bump it by them and ask them to tear it apart. I, fortunately, have someone like this and I own her a lot! Also, you may want to check out some of the books at the book store or library (reference sections) and writing and how to's on getting published. Many of these books are very good at giving examples of how to write a synopsis, or outline. Good luck to us all!



  2. #2
    Sasha Tompke
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Shane & Carla: Good luck to us all is write! I sent query letters about a novel I just finished to three agents. The first rejected it outright, on a form, with a handwritten note saying it doesn't match his needs but it sounds interesting. I took that as veiled encouragement. The second asked for the synopsis and marketing plan, as well as the first three and final chapters. The third asked for a chapter-by-chapter SYNOPSIS, which I looked up in a writer's handbook and I modeled mine after the book's format. In other words, I labored over a synopsis for each chapter. The book is 668 double-spaced, typed pages. The chapter-by-chapter synopsis is 22 single-spaced, typed pages. It was harder to write the cxc synopsis than writing the book. You don't want to know how long it took me to write a two-page synopsis. I'm a book writer, not a short-story teller.

  3. #3
    Patrick O
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Sasha: I, too, have great difficulty being brief. I can write a novel. I can write a textbook. But ask me to write a two-page synopsis and I'm out of here. I try to motivate myself by pretending I'm writing a cover jacket or a three-minute TV news story. This technique helps. After I stop moaning and groaning and feeling sorry for myself that I have to work so hard. How do you do it, Shane? Do you step back from your book and talk out loud about it -- as though you were telling a friend what it's about? Maybe talking into a tape recorder would help me. That way, I could capture the words as they flow painlessly from my mouth. Any suggestions anyone?

  4. #4
    Carla Harksun
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Yow! I clarified it with the agency's gum-chewing, telephone screener. She said they want "a brief, one-page book synopsis" and a "detailed chapter by chapter outline." That's all she would say. I spent the past few days "laboring" like Sasha did. I wrote a synopsis for each chapter. I have to tell you, I was tempted to weld a few chapters together, not to mention burning the book.

  5. #5
    Rita Ruby
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Sometimes I think we're asked to provide extra writings like long outlines just so we can entertain agents and publishers. Cynical, I know.

  6. #6
    Shane Sutliff
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Rita--cynical, but true. Many times, each of will find, no matter how much we labor over the outline/synopsis--some agencies will never even turn the first page of it. Disappointing and sad, but true.

  7. #7
    Carol Jose
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    TO ALL: Guys and Gals: I think we have too many fragmented discussion groups here...I reply some things in one, that should probably have been posted in another, then find answers in another to questions I asked in a different discussion group...any solutions? ABOUT OUTLINES, SYNOPSIS, ABSTRACTS, CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER, etc....No book should be written without an outline, however primitive, to start with....I know that sounds schoolteacherish, but it's true....outlining at the beginning saves a lot of rewriting and grief later...it's your basic roadmap, and you update the outline as you update the story...thus, when done, TA-DAH! you already have an all-but-polished rough of what almost every agent or publisher is going to ask you for! And like the famous screenwriter said, "You have to learn how to distill an ox into a bouillon cube".....that's part of the discipline of writing...Usually, before I even send a ms. to my agent or a query to any publisher, I make sure I have the following at my fingertips: 1)The completed manuscript, or Book Proposal, or story. 2) Word count, chapter by chapter if a ms. or proposed length if not written yet. 3)Table of Contents type Chapter Outline (essential for a proposal!) 4) Brief Overview (one page) 5) Expanded Overview (3-4 pages) 5) Expanded Chapter Outline (6 or 8 descriptive phrases or sentences giving the meat of each chapter.) 6) About the Author (my credentials, memberships, background, etc.) 7) Market Analysis and Differentiation: i.e., what books LIKE this ms. are already published, WHY my ms. is different, or better, or more unique than those; be positive, but don't get carried away with reviewer type hype at this point--that comes later when you've sold the thing--and WHAT I CAN BRING TO THE MARKETING EFFORT: i.e. willing to do interviews, book signings, address clubs, groups, etc. Hope this helps some of you! I know it helps me...

  8. #8
    Sasha Tompke
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Carol: I do pretty much the same things. However, in defense of those who have trouble fleshing out outlines: My initial book outline serves as a guide, not as a fleshed-out outline. Too many characters have a way of adding to the plot, of bringing their own take on things into a work. So I add the meat to the cxc outline after the book is completed. I always have a meaty cxc, a book synopsis, bio, and marketing plan written before I send my first query. p.s. This multi-folder format can lend itself to repetition. Over the past weeks, though, some dedicated areas have opened up and blossomed: Skill builders, Genres (in Tips & Tools), Contracts (Small Press in Pubs & Publishing).

  9. #9
    Rita Ruby
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Carol's right about outlines in terms of nonfioction, especially if you query publishers BEFORE you write the book, or if the publisher queries you to write a book. Either way, nonfiction requires detailed outlines. I don't write fiction, but my writer friends who do tell me that their outlines are skeletons for the most part. They amaze me with their tales of how some characters come alive in their minds and start to take over regions of books. They say these events happen without prior planning and that they are always open to such unexpected happenings because they offer the writers untold thrills. I'd gladly labor through the post-novel chore of writing a CxC synopsis-type outline if I could experience those unexpected thrills!

  10. #10
    Luis Nunez
    Guest

    Yes to skill builders!

    Has anybody made an entry since February? It is practically October. Perhaps messages need to be deleted on a regular basis.

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