Tuesday, June 22, 2010

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way, Just More Effective Ways...

I was talking to a writer yesterday and we were discussing query letters and synopsis writing. During the course of the discussion we started talking about the right and wrong way of doing various things in writing. What I reminded her of was the simple fact that there isn't one correct way of doing anything in writing. Each issue, whether it is query letter, synopsis writing, dialogue and so forth has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Simply put, what works for one author and one story might not work for another situation.

If you get on blogs or websites (including this one) and we spend the time talking about a technique or style, the idea is that you listen to not the skill we are teaching, but the rationale behind it. You want to know why something is being done and not focus so much on the skill. This takes critical thinking skills.

Let's look at a couple of issues here to demonstrate what I am talking about.

  • Agent A says to start with the basics (title, genre, word count and high concept)
  • Agent B says to leave this for the end and tell us the plot
  • Agent C says to start with the high concept and leave the basics for the end
  • Agend D says to include the basics in a cover page on the synopsis.

Each has a different approach. But what are we all saying? Get to the point and do it quick and effeciently. Don't ramble. Don't fill it with fluff. Deal with this a business.


  • Agent A says to just tell the story from start to finish and not worry about the length. If it takes 10 pages then do it.
  • Agent B says to limit it to 3 pages double spaced.
  • Agent C says to start with a paragraph for each character, one for the conflict and then tell the plot.
  • Agent D says it is fine to tell it in first person

Again, different approaches. But what are we all saying? Tell us the story. Tell us the GMC for the characters and don't leave things out.

There are many writers out there that seem to believe that what we are telling you is so confusing because we are all giving you different approaches. Yes we are! But we are all trying to give you a different perspective an to give you something to think about. We want you to figure out what is best for your story and your situation.

Some people say that agents will reject you if you don't submit a proposal to us in the exact format we are asking for. This is far from the truth. We want people out there that have a brain and can critically think about their writing and know why each of the stories is written that way.

Please, don't get hung up on one right or wrong way. Of course, I do need to add that if someone tells you the approach is wrong, don't just dismiss the comment by saying that Scott said everyone is right. That is far from what I am saying. There is a reason those comments came back the way they did. Your job is to understand why.


1 comment:

  1. Oh, thank you for this post. I had started getting confused,(and wound up), over certain issues. You have given me some breathing space Scott, thanks again.