Anyway, I took a proposal writing course by “Agent Extraordinaire” Chip MacGregor (who represents our very own Amy Leigh Simpson). Known for his excellent track record in publishing, his fantastic wit, and his occasional appearance in a kilt, Chip brings a wealth of knowledge to the proposal writing process.
There were 11 components to Chip’s Chat on Novel Proposal Writing, so I’m going to present Part 1 now and Part 2 next time (June 23).Chip started with a ‘big picture’ view by getting us to think about the proposal this way:
- What is the overarching purpose of the proposal?
- Think in terms of “resume”
- A proposal is seen by a small (and very select) audience
We’ll discuss the first 4 components today.
1. Title (don’t get attached to it ;-) Of course, it's what you call your book (instead of 'that thing' or 'my baby')
2. Hook – a summary of your story in one-two sentences (a summary which shows why your story is meaningful)
EXAMPLE:Does true love have an accent?
A speech-language pathologist determined to move up the academic ladder and out of rural Appalachia makes a deal with her arrogant supervisor to change a thick-accented and big-hearted cattle farmer into corporate world material by Thanksgiving. An Appalachian twist to My Fair Lady
3. Overview – this short description introduces your main characters and gives the basics of your ‘core story’.
a. 9 sentences or less
b. Can be seen as the ‘back cover blurb’ or even the elevator pitch (I’ll do another post about this as conference time draws nearer)
Dr. Adelina Roseland feels confident she can correct anyone’s speech. Accent reduction is her specialty and she’s worked ten years in research with it to attain her dream job: Professor at the University of Virginia. Her dreams come to a full stop when she is sent to a tiny town in Appalachia to begin a new program for UVA’s satellite university there. Determined to prove herself, Adelina makes a daring wager with her arrogant supervisor: If she can pass Appalachian cow farmer, Reese Mitchell, off as a Harvard grad and help him with a job interview for a corporation in Chicago, then she can present her research at the National, launching her career to further heights and moving her as far away from Appalachia as possible.
But Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of single-dad Reese Mitchell or his chaotic family. Drawn into a culture she’d been trying to forget for the past fifteen years, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away at the deep wounds of her past. But when Reese discovers that he’s been a mere pawn in her step up the corporate ladder, will he be able to forgive her deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives. Will some good old-fashioned Appalachian grit from a meddling mother rescue this culturally-diverse couple in this modern day My Fair Lady story with an Appalachian Twist?
4. Synopsis – more detailed (BUT STILL BRIEF) description of your story, without the ‘teasers’.
a. Motivations of your main characters
b. Story and character arcs
c. Main plot points
d. Answers the main questions posed in the beginning of your story through the end.
e. About 2-2 ½ pages
f. Present tense
h. Plain font
i. Clarity is key
j. Shorter paragraphs than in your prose writingTo save on space, I won’t include an entire synopsis here – but perhaps we can write a post about it on the alley as conference season comes into full swing ;-)
So, of these first four what component of proposal writing do you find most daunting?