If you have your hook, the next part should be a breeze…not really, but don’t you feel a little better about it?
Your short summary is what you’ll use in your query. It will only be 2 -3 paragraphs, you’ll want to get across your main characters and your major plot points. I’m a big fan of putting the ending of a book in a query (for agents’ eyes only) but that’s a matter of taste. You want them to be interested in reading your manuscript. You don’t go into sub-plots or minor characters, no matter how much you like them.
Here are some tips:
1) Simplify. Remember elementary school English? What are the most important things that happen in your book? Who is the main character? What is the major conflict? Some of you will want to mention the resolution.
2) Refer to your main character and one other important character central to the plot by name. Three is pushing it. If you mention (by name) four or more characters, you need to reevaluate your summary.
3) Sometimes it’s helpful to pinpoint your central plot point. Mine is the idea of safety vs. freedom. Expand on this point.
4) Less is more. You don’t need to say: Stephen turns Mindy over to the awful Grunda monsters. Now the dastardly creatures have the device that can destroy Mindy’s home planet. You can instead say, Mindy is betrayed by a trusted friend, jeopardizing her safety and placing her home world in peril. (Oh yeah, I just made that up…impressed? J )
5) Don’t use slang that you’ll have to explain. This is especially true for sci-fi or fantasy. Although your manuscript may be riddled with words of your invention, now is not the time to use or explain them.
6) Don’t get bogged down in explaining details. Avoid writing things like, So and so does this because of these motivations and then this happens. Be succinct and to the point.
Just remember, this is a short summary, you will not be able to give every detail of your manuscript. You may feel at first like you’re cutting the heart and soul out of your story, but eventually you’ll be able to see a middle ground and be able to relay your story in a few paragraphs.
Any other tips on writing a short summary?
Next time – Writing a longer synopsis.
*There is a huge storm moving through the
Midwest, sooooo I might be out of commission for a few days. If I don’t post tomorrow I’ll be back Thursday or Friday.*