View Full Version : Are chapter outlines required for fiction novels?

Brian G Turner
02-15-2016, 08:49 PM
Reading one of Noah Lukeman's books, he mentions having a chapter outline prepared.

He covers both fiction and non-fiction in his book, so the question is - for a genre novel, should I prepare a chapter outline in case requested? Or this is something that's not really going to be asked for?

Simply because I've read a lot about queries and synopses, but not encountered anything on chapter outlines as yet.

02-15-2016, 08:54 PM
I hope you won't use "fiction novel" in your query or synopsis. :)

I've queried four novels over the past four years, and I can honestly say that I've never written a chapter outline. I mean, I have, but that was for planning and then revision purposes. But I have never written one to submit for an agent. I've only ever had to submit a synopsis.

I have had to write a chapter outline for non-fiction (an academic book), but that's a completely different ball of wax.

I say don't worry about it. :)

02-15-2016, 09:06 PM
I only had one agent ask me for a chapter outline, which was basically just a series of 2-3 sentence chapter synopsis. You *might* need one, but I wouldn't expect it.

Laer Carroll
02-16-2016, 04:57 AM
I read over 200 agent submission guidelines for the sci-fi/fantasy field about a year ago. Agents want different things & will tell you what they want. Most want just queries. Some specify a query plus a 5/10/50 page sample in the email (not as an attachment which will usually get your query automatically rejected). Very few wanted a synopsis of any kind. But if they do want it, you should include it, and in the form they specify. Only one wanted a detailed synopsis. None mentioned a chapter outline.

As always, give the agent exactly what they say they want and no more, no less. Do it otherwise and that suggests you might be careless in reading their communications, which could lead to misunderstandings and difficulties in working with you and your work.

02-16-2016, 07:35 AM
Hell, chapters aren't even required. See Terry Pratchett.


02-16-2016, 02:50 PM
I queried 200 SF and F agents in the past 3 years and nobody wanted a chapter outline. You're safe from that particular horror.

(I also find Noah a bit dated with his books actually, given the exerpts I've read. He seems to embody a 90's sensibility more suited to the snail mail era perhaps?)

02-21-2016, 04:20 AM
I'm new at this, but I have done some research. I've only heard of chapter outlines for non-fiction book proposals, and for planning a book.