Tip on the Pen: Summaries

Can you guess what the third thing people look for when choosing a book to read is?

Give up? The answer is the summary, blurb, pitch, the thing that explains what your book is about. So how do you write an effective one?

Why are summaries important?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been drawn into a book by their cover and title, but decided not to read it because I wan’t as impressed by it’s summary. They are supposed to draw your potential readers in even more. Raise questions that’ll make them want to find the answers to within your story.

The quality of the writing in the summary is also an indication of the quality of the actual book. If there’s a lot of mistakes in it, it’s quite likely there will also be a lot of mistakes in the story. It’s not always the case, but there is a high chance.

What is a bad summary?

+A non-existent one. This is probably the worst type, as nobody can tell what exactly the plot is.

+Too long. When the summary is as long as the book (not literally), it’s too long.

+Too short. There’s pratically no point in even having one if it’s only a sentence or two long.

+No hook. The hook is what gets a reader interested in it. No hook, readers get bored.

So how do I write a good one?

+Start with a hook. A sentence or two that gets the reader interested early on. This could also be (and I quite often see this with Wattpad stories) a short, engaging quote from the story.

+Introduce main characters. In particular, make sure you name the point of veiw character, but also, characterise them. (Eg. ‘Shy model, Anna…’ or ‘famous journalist Mark Suchandsuch…’)

+Introduce plot. This includes the situation, problem, and hope. Don’t go into too much detail, but don’t leave to much out. Try and find that balance.

+A closing setence. Often, this is a question (Eg. Will she be able to resist the temptation?), but in most cases, I don’t recommed that as the answer is pretty obvious. However, if the questions can’t be answered without reading the book, go ahead. On the other hand, it could just be a sentence.

Most importantly, do your research. Look the summaries of published books in the same genre as yours. You might spot a pattern that you could work off.

Lets try something different this time. Post your summary in the comments to get feedback. While you’re at it, leave some feedback on other people’s, too.

~C

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One thought on “Tip on the Pen: Summaries

  1. Alright, I’ll try one that I just came up with on the spot :S

    Brie has been depressed since she killed the one person she ever loved. Lasa, her Elemental spirit, tries to cheer her up, but it’s hard when Brie is trapped in a life of slavery. It becomes even worse as she discovers that Lasa could turn at any moment, slip out of her control and become mad. The only person who could help her hasn’t been seen in years and may just as likely try to kill her. Then the royal family visit Montensem, bearing their precious gift and all hell breaks loose…

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