Friday, February 18, 2011

Sum it Up

When I come to the end of a partial, I am always eager to read the synopsis to see how things will turn out for the characters. Because it’s the last thing I read, the summary really sticks with me. So, as difficult as it is to trim down an entire novel into a short summary, it truly is necessary. Summaries help to give a sense of your work as a whole. They should be concise and to the point, but don’t forget to make them interesting! It seems like a daunting task, but you can do it!

It’s natural to want to include everything you love about your novel in the synopsis, but try to detach yourself from the work and only include the storylines that are essential to the plot. Here’s a good way to figure out what’s most important for your synopsis—pick the major point of each of your chapters, and string these together to form the backbone of the summary. This way you don’t leave out anything too important, but you won’t have a lot of extraneous information either.

I find that some writers like to leave cliff-hangers at the end of their summaries. As hard as it is to ruin the ending, it must be done. We really have to see how the novel ends to see if we want to pursue the full.

Finally, be sure your synopsis makes sense. This can be difficult—after all, you know this story like the back of your hand, so of course the summary will make sense to you! It helps to get an outsider’s perspective, just to make sure everything’s as clear as it seems.

While the summary doesn’t hold as much clout as the partial itself, it still is important in helping us make a decision about a manuscript, so make sure it lives up to your standards and reflects your vision. I look forward to reading what you come up with!


1 comment:

AE said...

Glad you said the summary doesn't hold as much clout as the partial. However, I wish there was more information out there on summary writing! I'm done with my book, but every single time I sit down to write my summary, I end up with a "telling" list. My character does this first. Here's her best friends. Then this happens.Blah. Blah. Blah.

And while I feel my book is perfectly proficient, by the time I'm done with the summary I feel like I should give up on being a writer altogether if I can't write an equally grasping summary. Any tips?

(Sadly enough, you guys requested a partial from me, and I haven't sent it. I'm a bit intimdated by this synopsis.)