A Writer’s Nightmare: The Dreaded Summary

You can ask any writer, good or bad, and they will all tell you the same thing: They hate writing a synopsis.  Let’s face it, it’s damn near impossible to write a 300 word blurb that is expected to summarize the work in which you spent countless months, maybe even years, slaving over.  This is your baby.  There’s a reason it’s 300 pages long, not 300 words long.  If the story could be fully told in a matter of 300 words, you wouldn’t have spent all that time writing the countless other thousands that fleshed out your book.   Right??
I can tell you, I rank up there with all the other authors.  I hate writing a synopsis, but there are a few things I’ve learned that have made creating a quick blip easier.
1. Remember the purpose of your synopsis.  It’s not there to tell your story.  That’s what the book is for.  It’s there to draw your reader’s attention; to make them want to read your story.
2. You can use taglines and even direct quotes from your book.  There’s nothing wrong with highlighting a phrase of a moment that stands out.  Odds are, if you love that moment, your readers will to.
3. Just hit the highlights of the story.  You don’t need to write an epic tale in your summary.  You simply need to convey the major themes.  That’s it.
4. Make sure you introduce the main characters.  No, you don’t need to describe them in depth, but give your audience a feel for the characters that the will be interacting with in the book.  And yes, I mean interacting.  When a reader sits down to read a book, they are embarking on a journey.  When you travel, don’t you feel more comfortable knowing who you’ll be traveling with?  I know I sure do.
5. In my opinion, it’s much easier to write the synopsis once the book is finished.  You have a good feel for your work.  However, it’s not uncommon for people to write it before completing their novel.  If you do this, make sure to go back through and reread it after you complete your novel.  Things tend to change as we write.  Our characters take over and we lose control.
6. Outlines can be a writer’s best friend.  You might be a write by the ink of your pen kind of author, but take notes.  They might come in handy when you write your summary.  There may be things you’d forgotten were apart of the story that turn out to be tasty morsels for a synopsis.
I know, I know.  I made this sound so easy.  But really – it is!  Simply relax.  This is your story.  You spent the time writing it.  You know it better than anyone else does.  The right words will come when the time is right, and your summary will be just as wonderful as the book you toiled over all those months (or years).

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