Writing an Eye-catching Proposal
The Synopsis and the Autobiography
In my last blog, I started sharing information about writing an eye-catching proposal. If you scroll down to the last blog a week ago, you’ll see the first two parts of a proposal, the Title Page and the Table of Contents. As previously said, publishing companies have different guidelines stating what they’d like to see in a proposal, so if you ever get the letter that requests a proposal, be sure to ask for their guidelines if they haven’t already offered them.
Today we’ll show you the next two components of a proposal that’s sure to “catch the eye” of that editor or agent:
III. The Synopsis of the Manuscript: (Two or three pages long; NO dialogue)
LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN
by Marsha Hubler
Twenty-five-year-old Amish Louellen Bidleman Friesen finds herself falling in love with forty-year-old English man Dr. David McAndrew, a widower with two children, for whom she cleans house regularly in Mapletown,SnyderCounty, centralPennsylvania. There’s only one problem. Louellen is already married.
Three years prior and well past the “marrying age,” Louellen Bidleman had wed Amish man Eli Friesen, mostly because of pressure from her family. Eli, also in his mid- twenties and “passed over,” had married Louellen for one main reason, to have sons.
Louellen tries desperately to love Eli, and because of her church vows, sets out to be a proper wife and good mother when God blesses them with little ones. However, after three years, there are no children. Louellen is devastated, and Eli becomes bitter, feeling trapped in a marriage that has produced no offspring, even though he knows that he has the medical problem, not his wife. Although he treats Louellen civil in public, at home he emotionally detaches himself from her and ignores her needs.
Because divorce is forbidden, Louellen tries to be submissive while Eli snubs her, goes about his farm business, and struggles to show her any love at all. Besides keeping her family life “private,” Louellen also hides another secret that would cause her family great shame: she loves music and ever since she heard beautiful piano music played at the McAndrew household, she has had the desire to learn more about the “instrument of evil” and, perhaps, learn to play it herself.
Unknown to either of them, both Louellen and Eli have great doubts about the Amish faith in which they’ve both been reared. Deep in their hearts, they question the legitimacy of a religion that does not afford them an intimate relationship with their God, a relationship they both desperately want and need. Also, while questioning the bishops’ and elders’ control over church members with long lists of restrictions and “forbidden pleasures,” they long to have the assurance that they are destined to heaven when they die, an assurance that is not present in the Amish Ordnung to which they belong.
Louellen’s housekeeping “boss,” 40-year-old David McAndrew, a surgeon, at one time considered himself religious. But when his young wife dies of cancer, leaving him to rear two children on his own, he turns his back on God. His two children, Andrea, now eighteen years old, and Jenna, now sixteen, are not “religious” in any way, but both girls have an interest in spiritual things, a desire they keep hidden from their father because of his bitterness against God. Andrea attends the local community college where she is majoring in music. Jenna attends the local high school as a sophomore and is thrilled about getting her driver’s license.
David finds himself falling in love with Louellen and begs her to leave her husband. He showers her with attention in his home, treats her like royalty, and buys her expensive gifts that she can’t take home with her….
(This synopsis has two more pages that fully explain the plot to the very end.)
Let’s take a look at: About the Author/Speaker: (One page long; note it is in third person)
About the Author/Speaker
Marsha Hubler has had a background conducive to effective writing. She has a master’s degree in education from Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA, and has been an educator for forty years. She has co-founded two private schools,Kreamer Christian Academy, Kreamer, PA, and the Bethesda Prep School, Milton, PA, and had served as teacher/ administrator in each. She presently works with homeschoolers in her home in Middleburg, PA, (50 miles north of Harrisburg in Amish/Mennonite country) where she lives with her husband and two dogs.
Marsha has been a foster parent and has owned horses. She also has numerous opportunities to speak at ladies’ events, schools and kids’ clubs, and at writers’ conferences.
Marsha has always had a deep desire to write, but teaching and caring for foster children and horses had allowed little time to pursue her dream passionately. However, since 1990, she has had some success with published articles, children’s stories, and poems. In 2000, the door opened for her to write books. Three years later she had her first book published, a ladies’ Bible study guide entitled DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD by Regular Baptist Press, Schaumburg, Illinois.
Marsha is most excited about her Keystone Stables Series published by Zonderkidz. The eight girl/horse fiction books for tweens, released since 2004, deal with heavy issues such as juvenile delinquency, death of a close friend, foster care, and special needs children. The books have been well received, the first one in the series considered a best seller. Because of the series’ success, Zonderkidz redesigned the books’ size, cover, and titles, and Marsha wrote 20 extra pages of back matter that are addressed to her fans. Books seven and eight were released in the spring of 2010. The same year, Marsha released two other stand-alone juvenile fiction books, RICKIE RIDES TO THE RESCUE and THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON.
In 2006 a contract with New Leaf Press from Green Forest, Arkansas, has resulted in a helps book for parents entitled WE’VE DECIDED TO HOMESCHOOL. NOW WHAT? The book was released in September of 2007.
Living in a heavily-populated Amish/Mennonite area of PA and personally knowing folks from these religious persuasions have motivated Marsha to try her hand at contemporary Amish/Mennonite romance for adults. With her familiarity with the Amish/Mennonite lifestyles, Marsha believes she can accurately portray the sects’ beliefs and lifestyles factually in a fiction setting. To this goal, she writes.
Well, there you have the third and fourth components in a good proposal. Work on your synopsis with no dialogue. Write it as if you were writing an article for a newspaper. Use description and narration, and make it short. And for your bio, make that even shorter! What the editor or agent is looking for is how well you can write, and he/she will get a good taste of that when you include your first three chapters.
Next time, we’ll discuss Character Sketches and Backdrop.
Happy writing! Happy proposing! Marsha
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