Friday, April 15, 2016

O is for outline

Margaret talks about writing outlines
Writing outlines for publishers can be tricky. How long to make it? How short?
How much detail? Writing a short outline initially is perhaps the wisest approach. (I’m not talking about my short romances here, but mainstream fiction).
So what to include?
A brief outline of the setting.
A brief outline of the characters and their dialogue. Enough to tell the publisher what the story is about in as few words as possible. Enough for them to get the essence of the story.
If this provokes interest they will read the whole book and you'll wait with bated breath and fingers crossed, hoping they like it and are willing to publish.
First acceptances are always the most exciting. I remember when it happened to me. I grabbed hold of my husband and we danced around the room, my son and daughter thinking we were mad because they didn’t know what was going on.
What has been your reaction if/when you’ve had a first novel accepted?


  1. I've never sold a story based on an outline/proposal. I've always submitted based on a completed mss.

    Which means I'm usually writing my synopsis after I've written the story, which some would say is backwards.

    However, I've have been known to make an outline of sorts just for my benefit before writing. Just to help keep events in order. I generally call it 'notes' though, rather than an outline...although it serves the same purpose.

  2. I confess I never make notes either, but I think if I was writing a longer novel then I would certainly need to do so.

  3. I never write an outline beforehand, although I may make a few notes about a particular scene or to help me sort something out.
    With my first novel (many moons ago) I simply sent off the whole ms. - and got a reply signed by Alan Boon himself. I can still remember that Saturday morning back in 1967 when the white envelope came through the door. My husband (later ex-husband) simply said, "Oh, very good," and never showed any interest in my writing!

    1. Your gateway into writing sounds exactly like mine, Paula. Except that my husband grabbed hold of me and we danced around the room.

    2. Aww, I can just imagine Ken doing that! :-)

  4. I just outlined the last 10 chapters of my WIP. I was writing myself into dead ends again. Lovely wordsmithing that did not advance the plot. I am not a good panther. Adding this to the old outline will give me the material I need for a synopsis, should I decide to submit to a publisher.

    1. I know what it feels like to write yourself into a dead end. It's happening in my current novel. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to write myself out of it.