Monday, May 2, 2011

Outline? Synopsis? AHHRRG!

Writing does take more than words. It takes more things than I would be able to put into one readable blog. Perhaps we will do a series on that at a later time.
 But what about the words that writing takes? What about all the words needed to be successful that are not related to the novel or story or series or treatment or what the hell ever it is you are writing?

What is an outline ?
An outline is exactly what it states. It gives the structure your ms is based on. It provides an editor or agent and idea about the story. Let's them see if it has any legs. An added benefit, if you can compel a person with the barest details, then your writing just might be good too.

I borrowed this from Lucky Bat Books because it is short, concise and easy to understand:

The Fiction Proposal Outline

(Written in third-person, present tense)
  • Summarize the action of the story (1-3 pages):
    • Introduce the main character in a setting with a problem.
    • Explain what the character wants, what his or her problem is.
    • Show how character goes about getting what he/she wants or solving problem, including major turning points and complications.
    • Ending (be sure to include whether or not the main character gets what he/she was after or solved the problem plaguing him/her).
  • Genre, word count, target audience
  • Explain how your book is different (a paragraph or two).
  • Bio (including past publications, do you work within the field you are writing about, do you have a massive following on social networks, etc) (a paragraph to a page)
  • Contact info, Web site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The synopsis is a bit more complicated. To get a full explanation go to Suite 101.
Briefly it is a business document. It is not a compressed version of your story or an exercise in creative writing. Some key factors of a synopsis are:
  • Characters - Only the essential players
  • Plot - Only the major points
  • Conflict - External of the story and internal to the characters
  • Description - Limited and without a lot of adverbs and adjectives
  • Tone - Not too important
Remember an outline is something that should guide the writer from point A to point Z. It may be requested by others but many people create a detailed outline before they ever set to work on the actual ms.
A synopsis is for the nuts and bolts business side of writing. It is about conveying the value of your product. It demonstrates that there are no gaping holes (not that you won't need to do a pile of editing) in the ms.

I hope this helps a few of you.

Until next time... WRITE!

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