1. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Outline Trouble

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Rei, Mar 18, 2009.

    The trouble I am having with my synopsis is that I have two paralell but essentially separate plots. The main plot is the certain events of my MC, Rachel's first term at high school. She has severe social anxiety and OCD. Her defense mechanism is to "world jump" and shape-shift into an elf called Reichi. Reichi has her own story, which is told in every third or fourth chapter.

    I'm not sure how to have both Rachel's and Reichi's plot at the same time in only one or two pages. Any suggestions would be much appriciated.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    who's asking for an outline?... i've never heard of any agents/publishers wanting a story outline.. a 'synopsis' sure, and for non-fiction and even sometimes for fiction, a chapter outline, but that doesn't seem to be what you're asking about...

    an outline is only what the writer uses to keep time lines, subplots and characters straight and avoid plot holes...

    do you perhaps mean a 'synopsis'?... if so, a 'short' one would be 1-2 pages, but some will want medium [2-5 pages] or long ones [up to 10 pages]... you have to go by each agent/publisher's guidelines...
     
  3. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    I would say not to write an outline then. You can try writing without one. Then if you have problems, try once more at the outline. If that still doesn't work for you, then maybe you should either A.)Try another story because this one just won't work. -or- B.)Find your own way of "out-lining" your plot. Each song has its own beat. ;)
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have told me nothing I don't already know. I'm sorry, but telling me to read the guidelines, which I have been doing for years, doesn't help if the guidelines don't include what I'm asking. I've done my homework. Some publishers and agents actually don't say how long they like outlines to be.

    This is what Annick Press says about what to include.
    Coteau Books says this:
    Neither say how long they like the synopsis to be, and they are my two top choices. So few Canadian agents say they take books in my genre and age demographic. Since I cae more about being published in Canada than how much money I make, that is why I am going directly to the publishers. You don't need an agent in Canada anyway, depending on what publishers you like. It would be nice to know if I'm giving them something that is a reasonable length even when they don't ask for a certain length.

    Anyway, that's all irrelevent unless I can figure out how to write a synopsis that doesn't sound choppy with two paralell plots.
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never use an outline when I'm writing. I'm preparing a submissions package.
     
  6. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    I'm assuming the synopsis is for a novel and not a short story or novelette.

    Firstly, I'd say there is no way you're going to be able to summarise the events of a novel in 1-2 pages. In a book called Novel Writing, Evan Marshall suggests ,as a rough guide, 1 page of synopsis for every 25 pages of manuscript. That would make the average synopsis length around 15 pages.

    Some other tips that might be of use are:

    Write in the present tense.

    Tell the entire story - don't leave out what's covered by any sample chapters you might submit.

    Don't divide it into chapters. Use paragaraphing to to indicate section or chapter breaks.

    Follow the chronology of your novel, swapping viewpoints as and when they occur in it.

    And remember, the writing in your synopsis must be every bit as good, if not better, than in your novel, because many editors will judge your writing abilities on this alone.

    I hope this is of some help.

    John
     
  7. TereFaerie
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    TereFaerie Member

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    The way I am reading, only the first publisher seems to want a synopsis.
    The second only wants you to send a query letter, along with whatever you already have written-- the entire mss or a partial.

    For the first press, since they don't seem to want a query letter, I would write up a synopsis no more than seven pages and send them the first chapter. Since there is no quey letter, it is important that your synopsis begin with a hook. They are more likely to read that first and THEN your pages if it sounds interesting, so you had better hook them. The hook from the query letter you sent to the other press should work just fine.

    Good luck.
     
  8. Marshmallow
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    Marshmallow Member

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    That's one hell of a tall order missy.

    Hmm. Try doing exactly what you just did, but with a wee bit more details. You just spelled out your story in >300 words, just flesh that. It should still be less than 2 pages.
     
  9. biggergib
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    biggergib Member

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    I agree with above post. You gave us a good idea of what you're doing in your story. If you add some details I think you will be fine. Anyone who is paying attention to what they are reading will understand that there are two separate worlds in which events are happening with respect to each other.

    The only other Idea I have is to divide your synopsis into two parts. I've never submitted a novel, so this is probably a horrible idea, and I would not pay any attention to it.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah. biggergib, you don't have an entirely bad idea, but I'm nt sure if it would work, especially in a submission package. Anyone willing to read it and tell me if it really is choppy, or if I'm just being too hard on myself, as I often am.
     

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