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An Idiots guide to synopsis construction


armourersergeant
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Do any Pals have a link or book title that would help the General idiot (me) in constructing a synopsis in a professional way?

regards

Arm.

Ps assuming there is a standard way to do this sort of thing

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Hello Arm

Do you mean an abstract or a summary? For what purpose?

An abstract is a description in about 200 words of the objectives of your study, your research methods and your conclusions. A reader can then decide whether to bother reading your report / book / thesis / document or whatever it is. You usually have to supply key words, especially if it's going into a library or online, so that it can be indexed.

Although there are general patterns to these things, universities, publishers, etc have their own house-styles and it's helpful to look at existing publications or documents to see how they like them to be written.

I'm not sure whether this answers your question! I hope I haven't sounded patronising. If I can help more specifically, please ask.

Gwyn

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Arm,

If you are thinking about a proposal – a pitch to a publisher – there are quite a few books that might help. Most are American and so discuss what is customary there. Worse, many are written in a can-do self-help style that is wildly optimistic and likely to lead to disappointment. One that is more level-headed than most is Non-Fiction Book Proposals that Anybody can Write, Elizabeth Lyon, Blue Heron, Oregon, 1995, 0-936085-31-2. I think it over-complicates the task though. For fiction, From Pitch to Publication, Carole Blake, Macmillan, London, 1999, 0-333-71435-0 is quite a good guide. For more general stuff about writing and getting published in the UK, Michael Legat’s books are useful. For example, An Author’s Guide to Publishing, Michael Legat, Hale, London, 1991, 0-7090-4664-2 is worth a read.

I don’t think any of these are absolutely necessary though. Like a CV, there is no one ordained way of writing a proposal although certain things obviously have to be present. Unlike the average CV, a book proposal is unsolicited so you can expect more resistance. A book proposal is not really about the book; it is about showing how the publisher can expect to make money from the book.

If you are an unknown writer of fiction, I doubt whether any proposal will get a hearing. You just have to write the book then try to find an agent or publisher. But don’t do that until you have outlines and sample chapters for two more fiction books ready. Fiction publishers won’t invest in a one-book author. It helps to be young and good-looking too.

If you are planning a mass market non-fiction book for the general reader, a proposal may be appropriate. But if your book is for a niche market I doubt once again whether any proposal will be entertained. You usually have to take the risk and write the book first.

In all cases, study the market. Are there similar works already on the shelves or in preparation? Find out who publishes your type of book. Check their web sites; look for guidelines for authors, style guides, submitting a proposal – that kind of thing.

Good luck!

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thanks for all the advice.

Marina,

Der idiot true!! I put various permutations into the search except 'Write'. what can i say!

Clive,

A book proposal is not really about the book; it is about showing how the publisher can expect to make money from the book. thats strikes me as good advice.

It helps to be young and good-looking too.

thank christ its fact not fiction

In all cases, study the market. Are there similar works already on the shelves or in preparation? Find out who publishes your type of book. Check their web sites; look for guidelines for authors, style guides, submitting a proposal – that kind of thing. have done this atleast.

Gwyn,

helpful to look at existing publications or documents to see how they like them to be written. have also done this

This is to be 2000 words long and will I am led to believe will be read but from there who knows.

thanks all

Arm.

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... This is to be 2000 words long and will I am led to believe will be read but from there who knows.

So it’s a feature article?

In that case the rule is make life easy for the editor. Have the facts right, the spelling right, the grammar right, and the style as good as you can get it. Write to length, say nothing actionable and infringe no copyrights. If it is an academic article, detail your sources and format them in the manner defined by the journal. And never ever miss a deadline.

Good luck again.

By the way, make sure it is clear between you what you are selling. First British serial rights would leave you free in principle to sell the article again to another British journal, or to overseas journals. It would also leave you free to collect the articles into a book, publish the article on your web site, and so on. If you sell the entire rights, the work is no longer yours and you can’t do these things.

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just to clear up what i think may be confusion started by me ( not a good start) the synopsis is to be 2000 words or less, not the finished project.

All good advice, thanks

Arm.

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Ah! So you have a publisher who will look at your synopsis. I'd say you are doing very well indeed so far.

I'll get my coat, shall I?

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Dont get it just yet, they look at any synopsis but that is all they gaurantee to do. And thats all i will say at this stage. I have an idea and it fills a gap in the 'market' thats 1% of the way there and thats the easy bit! we are not talking literary works.

regards

Arm.

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Fingers crossed, for you, Arm! I hope it works out for you.

I'm sorry I wasn't able to help; I wasn't sure what you wanted to know.

One thing I would add from my own experience: if a publication (or a website) is going to publish something I've written, I make it clear when I send them the final piece that any alterations to the material are to be made only by me and, where I know that proofreading is being done by illiterates in the office, I will proofread my own.

I've learned from one experience with a national magazine where heavy-handed editing completely distorted the sense of what I was writing and I had to involve the PCC in getting an apology. And, despite everything, I had another this year where a national charity reused some website material I wrote for them the previous year and added some badly written additions which people thought were mine as my copyright was still at the bottom. Getting things put right is hassle which you can do without.

Gwyn :)

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Gwyn (oops nearly called you Dragon),

You did help you established that i was running along the right lines and when i started writing this evening i included a market part in the first draft. Whilst i had thought this part through i had not intended to mention a market as such, being in my mind obvious, but not to them or the potential reader!

regards

Arm.

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I amended my post while you were replying to it!

Oh. I answer to almost anything. Except Gwendoline.

Gwyn

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