The Synline? Outopsis?

crossed fingers.jpg

Whatever you want to call it, it’s finished! In the last post, my usual optimism was showing when I said I’d finish the synopsis on Saturday and rest on Sunday, but here it is Monday and I just zipped it off to my agent a couple of hours ago. It’s long. When people ask me how to write a synopsis, I tell them I’m the wrong person to give advice. I’ve written a boatload of them over the years, but don’t ever ask me to teach a class on how to do it. Thank goodness I’ve always had understanding editors who put up with me.

A synopsis is a summary of the story, complete with beginning, middle and end, character sketches, motivation, and arc (how they change during the course of the story). (I’ve heard the rule of thumb is one page of synopsis per 10,000 words of story)

An outline is a chapter by chapter/scene by scene abstract of the book.

My synopses tend to land somewhere in the middle of the two. I have tried really, really hard over the years to do it the right way, but it doesn’t work for me. Scenes come spilling out of my head and I don’t want to lose them, so into the synopsis they go. The synopsis I just turned in is 34 pages long, and whether it’s written the right way or not, I’m very happy with it. Very!

My fingers are crossed it will be a go. Why wouldn’t it be, you ask? There are so many reasons. Here are a few I’ve heard over recent years:

“No one wants to read about an old lady.”

“It’s too ‘woo woo’.” (cue Twilight Zone music)

“No one wants to read about a cult.”

“Your readers will never suspend disbelief long enough to give this story a chance.”

“You’re too white to write this book.”

And finally, the reason I most hate hearing because there’s no way around it:

“We’re just about to publish something similar.” Ugh. I hate that one.

So cross your fingers along with me, please. I’m hoping for good news!



  1. Gina on November 17, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Got my fingers AND toes crossed for you Diane. BTW, cute picture of that little girl! Awww…

  2. Margo on November 18, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Diane, you know my fingers are crossed!…I’m so excited about this book and I just have a feeling your synopsis is completely unique from anyone else’s. I wonder how long it will take them to let you know ‘it’s a go’…? It must be awful waiting to hear from them…

  3. Denise on November 18, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I hope it doesn’t take long to get *approval.* I have a really good feeling about this one!!!

  4. Rob on November 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Fingers in knots. By the way, is that a picture of Joanna?

  5. Diane Chamberlain on November 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the knotted fingers and toes, all! But don’t hold your breath–this will probably take a while.
    Rob, she’s as cute as Joanna, but she’s an anonymous little girl. 🙂

Leave a Comment