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The art of summaries.

Crumbly Writer

When advising other authors, I always emphasize summarizing the main story conflict in your summary (otherwise known as your "story description" or 'pitch'), so that readers will know whether their interested in your stories or not. Thus, in your example, their description might read, "When kidnapped by aliens, < name of character > tries to prove his worth as a way of winning his freedom and a chance to return home once again."

Simply listing a few details at the start of the story is admitting that you have no consistent theme in your stories, and that you've never refined your stories to focus on essential elements, rather than just listing the various stops along the way.

It's akin to saying "We stopped in Cleveland, Phili and New Orleans" rather than saying "we had detailed discussions about mortality on the way to my father's funeral this summer."

Switch Blayde

The purpose of the summary (or what's called "blurb" in publishing) is to get the potential reader to sample your story. It's not to summarize the story.

It should introduce the protagonist and what life changing event will take place and what will happen if he fails.

btw, I suck at summaries.

Replies:   sunkuwan  Keet  awnlee jawking
sunkuwan

@Switch Blayde

In the age of 100k+ stories, that is not desirable. Unless you really write a story that takes the layout of a normal length dead-tree book and make it 100k+ words long and bloat up your story. Not really a good story.

In the age of instant access to thousands upon thousands of epic-length stories, a premise of "He is going on an Adventure!" isn't going to cut it anymore.

While looking for stories, I will check the summary, if there is no summary, a "mysterious" one, a non-descriptive, or like my previous example, a description that is outdated after 3 chapters, I will ignore them and look at the next entry. (Of course, I won't know if the description is outdated after 3 chapters, but if it is a description that doesn't make me look at the story in the first place because the "blurb" (genius inventor on earth) didn't interest me, while the later part of the story would be much more interesting (kidnapped by aliens and living among them)

Reluctant_Sir

@sunkuwan

While looking for stories, I will check the summary, if there is no summary,


I'm with you here. I struggle with my summaries (and know I come up short sometimes) but I won't give a second look to a story that has some no-effort bullshit summary.

'This is a romance.'

I don't care how many of your friends you got to vote 10 on your story, I would have to be bored out of my mind click that link.

Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

In the age of 100k+ stories, that is not desirable. Unless you really write a story that takes the layout of a normal length dead-tree book and make it 100k+ words long and bloat up your story. Not really a good story.

I suspect that's the real problem. A new author decides to start a story, posting each chapter as they go. Soon, the story starts to drift, and the story no longer bears any resemblance to their initial blurb. That's why it's important to restrict your stories and have a distinct ending in sight before beginning. Regardless of how long you want a book to be, you need to guard against thread drift, meandering story lines and unnecessary distractions. The size of a story isn't that relevant anymore, but a story's central focus is always vital to the quality of a tale.

Switch Blayde

@sunkuwan

"He is going on an Adventure!"


That is nothing like I suggested. Who is he? What's at risk? What happens if he fails? That's the blurb.

It's not a story summary no matter how long the story is. My first novel has two sub-plots that come together at the end. But there are two separate stories going on until the end. My blurb doesn't even mention the second sub-plot or the hero and heroine in it. I try to draw the reader in with the first sub-plot. When they get to the second, it will (hopefully) be a pleasant bonus.

REP
Updated:

@sunkuwan


The purpose of the summary (or what's called "blurb" in publishing) is to get the potential reader to sample your story. It's not to summarize the story.



In the age of 100k+ stories, that is not desirable.


What is not desirable? Getting the readers attention or writing a blurb that isn't a summary of the story.

As Switch said, the Blurb's purpose is to gain the potential readers' interest. A summary of the story may do that, but the purpose of a blurb is to garner interest.

Blurbs used as story descriptions for SOL stories are limited in size. Saying things like "He is going on an adventure." and my favorite "Just read it." are extremely poor attention getters.

You said in an earlier post that if the summary is too long it should be put in the first chapter. The purpose of the blurb or summary, regardless of whether it is on a book jacket or in a story description is to get you to start reading the first chapter of the story. Putting the summary in the first chapter is a very poor place for an attention getter, since the reader isn't going to start reading the first chapter if you haven't grabbed their attention beforehand.

Keet

@Switch Blayde

The purpose of the summary (or what's called "blurb" in publishing) is to get the potential reader to sample your story. It's not to summarize the story.

It should introduce the protagonist and what life changing event will take place and what will happen if he fails.

btw, I suck at summaries.

I thought that was a good summary of what a summary should be ;)

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

The purpose of the summary (or what's called "blurb" in publishing) is to get the potential reader to sample your story. It's not to summarize the story.


Which isn't to be confused with a summary (or what's called "summary" in publishing), which is the author's summary of the story. In conjunction with the first three chapters, it helps the publishers get a feel for the story so they can decide whether it fits their market. It may contain spoilers and it won't appear on the book's cover. ;)

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

Which isn't to be confused with a summary (or what's called "summary" in publishing), which is the author's summary of the story.


That's the synopsis.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

That's the synopsis.


Damn. Way to torpedo an attempt at humour :(

AJ

richardshagrin
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


the synopsis


"Opsis (Ancient Greek: ὄψις) is the Greek word for spectacle in the theatre and performance." (from Wikipedia)

Everyone knows what sin is. So a synopsis is a spectacle of sin. Probably has much sex.

You need to hurry to get a summary, summer is nearly over.

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