Sunday, February 6, 2011

In one paragraph...

One of my biggest struggles in writing is summarizing. Figuring out in a few paragraphs how to describe my story. How do I condense an over 100,000 word story into 500 words? Less if I'm doing a query letter. This is a big deal too! A lot of agents think if a writer can't write a 200 word query effectively describing their story then chances are the story won't be that good either.

Bad news for me eh?

I really struggle with queries and short summaries of any of my stories. I can't figure out what to say. I can figure out a hook - an opening sentence to entice readers to continue. Being Human is For Tommy life is simple, revolving around one thing: Survival. Not bad, I think. It tells the reader something important about Tommy and hopefully makes them wonder. Especially when they see the next few sentences. For JJ's story his hook is JJ has a secret, he's not like other boys. After that I'm clueless. Especially since I know what both stories are about. I know everything Tommy goes through and I'm in the process of writing JJ's adventure but describing either in a few short paragraphs... I can't find the words. Not a single one. It's not just those two stories either but every story I've written. Writing a description stumps me.

You can see why that's bad news for me. Especially with all the hard work I've put into Being Human. The story really has come a long way and I've had positive comments from people who have read samples and friends who have read the whole story. So what do I do? How do I overcome this huge obstacle? Especially since agent or not, I'm going to need a back blurb or front flap description of the story to entice the reader to crack the book open.

Someone do me a favor, go two posts back. Remember that one? Stress reduction kit? I need that right now.


  1. Go back to some of your favorite books ... and read the jacket covers. See how the pro's do it. I think your last attempt at the query letter was good. You are on your way .... just needs a little refinement!

  2. I think Erin has hit the nail on the head. Read your favourite books and see what works, and then try to find a way to implement it yourself.

    I know the advice is a lot easier to give than to execute...but it's true!

  3. Take a deep breath. It's OK! Really, it is!

    The best thing you can do is what Erin and Brad suggest - read jacket covers. It really does help. Also, you'll go through at least 20 drafts (I know I did) before you feel it's good enough to submit.

    Remember there's no rush. Don't force it. It'll come to you!

  4. I'm not a writer by any means, but I would think from descriptions I have read, that they focus on the highlights of the story. A lot of descriptions leave a curious taste in the mouth of the reader to entice them to purchase the book.
    Not sure that helps any, but thought I'd give you my 2 cents worth:)

  5. being human is not it's cracked out to be .. the details in the fine print and what fine print it is .. how about that ;)

  6. I agree with Erin. I'd read read read summaries of other books and stories you are fammiliar with. Eventually you'll get ideas on which parts and characters of your stories that you'll want to highlight. I can understand your difficulty towards this pursuit...summarizing is not easy! But I definitely don't think you are the only talented writer who has this as a stumbling block...and it's definitely one you'll be able to overcome!

  7. Good luck! I've never had to do tht myself... yet. :)