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Ace!
10-22-2009, 12:46 AM
What is a synopsis and what is an outline, and how do they differ? I've been asked for either but don't really know what's what.

Leukman
10-22-2009, 12:51 AM
Synopsis is used to summarize a fiction ms.

Outlines are used to...well...outline a non-fiction proposal.

I don't write non-fiction, but my understanding is that generally non-fiction is sold based on a proposed work, represented by an outline and credentials. Whereas fiction is sold based on a complete work, summarized for agents and editors by a synopsis.

thothguard51
10-22-2009, 12:55 AM
An outline is what I use to keep myself on track. A synopsis is what I send to the agent/editor when requested. The difference, in the outline, I leave things out because I know what I am getting at. In the synopsis, I have to show the agent/editor, that I know what the story is about and that I can maintain the plot, pace and characters from start to finish.

Nick Anthony

scarletpeaches
10-22-2009, 01:46 AM
I would say an outline is a plan for a novel before it's written. A synopsis is the summary of the finished piece, decided to sell the book rather than keep plot points straight in the author's mind.

Ace!
10-22-2009, 01:59 AM
Well, some agent request an outline and some request a synopsis. Some request an outline and a chapter or a few and some request a synopsis with several chapters.

I'm wondering how long your synopsis is, a couple/few pages? How long is your outline and is it separated by chapters?

scarletpeaches
10-22-2009, 02:01 AM
If an agent asked me for an outline I'd ask them to clarify if what they meant was actually a synopsis. I've never heard of an agent asking for an outline for fiction.

My synopses are around the 1,000 word mark - two pages of single-spaced Courier New, 12pt text on A4 pages with 1" margins.

kaitie
10-22-2009, 05:02 PM
Oooh ooh! I asked this question a couple of weeks ago and didn't get any answers. :) I was wondering the same thing. Some agents request an "outline," and I wanted to know if I could just send a synopsis or if I'm really expected to do the traditional outline format. And if so, how the HECK do you do that!?

Bufty
10-22-2009, 06:25 PM
An outline is usually for non-fiction - an 'outline' of the contents for a proposed and as yet unwritten book.


Oooh ooh! I asked this question a couple of weeks ago and didn't get any answers. :) I was wondering the same thing. Some agents request an "outline," and I wanted to know if I could just send a synopsis or if I'm really expected to do the traditional outline format. And if so, how the HECK do you do that!?

Ace!
10-22-2009, 09:50 PM
Thank you!

Lady Ice
10-22-2009, 10:33 PM
Synopsis is a summary; an outline is a map of the story.

afarnam
11-28-2009, 11:13 PM
Hi, I'm completely new here, so I hope this is the right thread for this. I have started sending a memoir to agents and my first nibble asked me for a "proposal". Everything I have ever read, which is quite a bit, says that narrative projects of any kind should be treated like fiction, i.e. with a synopsis and sample chapters. So, I sent the synopsis and offered to do a proposal based on whatever specifications the agent wanted for a memoir. She replied and simply asked for the first chapter. I don't even know if she read the synopsis. She did reject my first chapter, though kindly and with encouragement to try elsewhere. So, did I mess up? Should I have a proposal or outline for a memoir? How in the world would I go about it?
-Arianna

Ace!
12-02-2009, 11:43 PM
I've seen the same thing, submission guidelines that requests a proposal. I don't know how to answer your question though. I don't know what a proposal is exactly, as I didn't understand the request for synopsis or outline, but figure you did the best you could with the information you had. I guess doing that is about the best you can hope for.

Newport2Newport
12-03-2009, 03:15 AM
Hi, I'm completely new here, so I hope this is the right thread for this. I have started sending a memoir to agents and my first nibble asked me for a "proposal". Everything I have ever read, which is quite a bit, says that narrative projects of any kind should be treated like fiction, i.e. with a synopsis and sample chapters. So, I sent the synopsis and offered to do a proposal based on whatever specifications the agent wanted for a memoir. She replied and simply asked for the first chapter. I don't even know if she read the synopsis. She did reject my first chapter, though kindly and with encouragement to try elsewhere. So, did I mess up? Should I have a proposal or outline for a memoir? How in the world would I go about it?
-Arianna
Hi Arianna,

First of all, welcome to AW! You'll find find lots of friendly people and helpful resources here.

Since you're asking specifically about memoir, you might want to check out some of the conversation threads in the Bio, Autobio, and Memoir Forum. We've got links to information on the very question you've asked here, plus lots of other neat stuff.

Best wishes,
Melodye

indie_girl
12-31-2009, 10:58 AM
If an agent asked me for an outline I'd ask them to clarify if what they meant was actually a synopsis. I've never heard of an agent asking for an outline for fiction.

My synopses are around the 1,000 word mark - two pages of single-spaced Courier New, 12pt text on A4 pages with 1" margins.

I don't really have any experience with agents, and I'm sure that I would be extremely intimidated by them, but I'm guessing that just by asking for some clarification or to specify what they want from you is totally fine, and probably informative. They shouldn't reject you just because you want to send in the right thing! Agents are people too (we should hope) and they can probably sympathize with you.

shaldna
02-22-2010, 07:14 PM
outline - your map of the novel, what happens, when and to who

synopsis - the map of the novel you send out to other people - more detailed summary.