The Remainder Outline

After consulting with the Mac Guru at work yesterday, I tried a couple more tricks to get past the Happy Mac icon with no luck. I even pulled out the logic board (I have a 6500, and it just pulls out of the back after you remove two screws – nice) and manually zapped the PRAM by unplugging the computer’s battery. Also took a moment to blow off the board with air-in-a-can (canned air, bottled water, aerosol cheese – is this a great country or what?).

When none of that worked, I consulted with the Macster here at work again. It’s time to pull off the 6500’s faceplate and tinker with the CDR and hard drive. In my Usenet research, I have found that the case of the 6400/6500 series of Mac is one of the hardest desktops to get into (not nice). So guitar night will get postponed while I play Ben Casey and operate.

I guess I could take the down time to cover one of my promised topics, so I’ll explain what a “remainder outline” is.

It’s basically a term I made up for a synopsis of a book that begins with chapter four. Why? Because when you submit sample chapters to an editor, they also want an outline or synopsis. And since they usually ask for three chapters, it makes sense to pick the action up with chapter four.

I came up with this about the time that I sold The Company Man to Del Rey based on – you guessed it – three chapters and an outline.

I’ve discussed my lack of outline habits here before. Since I was in the early stages of the book, I managed to cobble together a page and a half discussing what would happen in the book and sent it off.

I won’t say that my editor was horrified, but her correspondence indicated some concern over whether or not I could pull the book off. To her credit, she bought the book anyway, based on what little I gave her. I suspect she was motivated by the bang-up job I did on cutting ADOH at her request (a story for another day).

But I also got a subtle hint from her. She sent me some samples of outlines included with sample chapters. The one that impressed me the most had this heading:

Title of Book
Author’s Name


And from that day on, I called it the remainder synopsis. It’s all semantics, I know. But I know what I mean when I say it, and now you do, too.

PS: My remainder outline for And/News is twelve pages long.

NP – Mark Knopfler, The Ragpicker’s Dream


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