View Full Version : Novel Outline

01-20-2006, 04:22 AM
I have received an invitation to submit 50 pages of my novel and and an outline of the entire novel. I have found recommendations for non-fiction outlines but none for novels. I don't know if I should submit a content outline or a headings outline. Are there any links to where I my find info or does anyone know the right approach? Thanks, Ralph

01-20-2006, 08:16 AM
Usually the request for novels (as opposed to nonfiction) is for a synopsis rather than outline. That's usually a present-tense description of the full story, 500-1000 words. I wouldn't really know how to write an "outline" of a novel.

For more than you want to hear about synopses, visit Miss Snarks website and look in the period of late Dec-early Jan. She analyses (and tromps on) 99 synopses submitted by various writers.

I find it hard to imagine the agent really means 'outline,' but perhaps someone more knowledgeable will correct me.

Best of luck.

01-20-2006, 06:40 PM
Thanks for your quick reply. I had the same impression as you. I think that I will phone the agent to verify. R.

01-20-2006, 08:43 PM
An outline means a chapter-by-chapter (or section by section) breakdown of the novel. Some agents find them helpful when reading only a partial that is understood to be a much larger (as in significantly larger) work (say, a long historical epic, for example). It helps them to determine the overall structure of the novel and how well (in their estimation) they think it will hold together.

01-20-2006, 09:59 PM
Outline = A summary of a book's contents in 5-15 double-spaced pages; often in the form of chapter headings with a descriptive sentence or two under each one to show the scope of the book.

I wrote one for my 94,000 work novel. It was about 10 pages, I think and GRUELLING! Good luck. I was a bit challenged by this, but my book takes place in a one-month period of time, so I did a day by day thing, vs. a chapter by chapter.

01-21-2006, 06:24 PM
Woops! I already sent the 50 pages and asked for clarification of what kind of outline the agent wanted,i.e., 'heading' or 'content'. I see now that I should have waited and written an outline. I appreciate the attention from you all.

01-21-2006, 07:02 PM
It's good to ask. Sometimes an agent use "outline" and "synopsis" interchangeably. Sometimes a synopsis means "1 page brief summary" and an outline is a "detailed 3-5 page." But you can't be sure unless they give you specifics.

02-02-2006, 03:39 PM
An outline of a novel is basically called a Chapter-by-Chapter Outline

In fact it isn't an outline in the A, B, C, 1. 2. 3. a, b, c -- type of outline you learned in school.

A Chapter-by-Chapter Outline -- Novel Outline -- or -- Chapter-by-Chapter Synopsis is actually the following:

A short 1 - 2 paragraph synopsis of each chapter - with the beginning, any key plots, character introductions and the chapter ending spelled out.

Each chapter goes on a separate page, double spaced.

A good example of one is in the book:

Formatting & Submitting your Manuscript -- 2nd edition

by Cynthia Laufenberg and the Editors of Writer's Digest Books

Page #134 with examples on pages 136-137

The reason agents and/or editors ask for this is: they want to see if you can follow through with your plots and they want to see how the story evolves through the chapters.