This is topic Successful book summaries? in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=1;t=007809

Posted by jerich100 (Member # 10202) on :
I'm on month four of writing a 4-10 page double-spaced summary for my novel. Such a summary is required by Tor Books (that and the first 10,000 words). People around me have read it and have given me comments.

Amidst writhing in agony about this, I realize I've never read a book summary for a book that has been published.

Is there a website that contains such gems? Is there a secret stash of successful book summaries on this site?

Posted by Brooke18 (Member # 10220) on :
Writer's Digest has been very helpful for me but I'm not sure if they have an article on summaries. I generally Google the information I'm looking for.

I have always read summaries on books to decide if I want to read them. As for 4-10 pages, that seems a little long but, I would think it would be slightly easier than writing a half-page summary. Have you tried starting with a shorter summary and adding details to make it longer?
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Consider posting the summary for response commentary in the Fragments and Feedback for Books thread. The thirteen line limitation is suspended for novel synopses/summaries and queries.

A page that includes synopsis guidance and a successful sample synopis: The Novel Synopsis: Just What Is It?
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Hey Jerich, I actually recently finished my ten paged book summary for Tor/FORGE. At first, I thought it would be more difficult because just about every other publisher only wants a one to two paged synopsis.

To be honest, though, I had to cut my summary down from almost 15 pages to 10. Beyond family, I haven't gotten the summary critiqued because I'm a bit paranoid about the entire manuscript, or all the key points, getting out, but basically what I did was similar to what I did for final essay papers in university. I did a short summary for each chapter so that the editors at Tor could see how all of the many points converge together into the final resolution of the main characters.I thought that was the most important step since my novel is episodic, with a fairly broad range of characters and subplots.

Anywho, if you've ever written a final paper or thesis, just think back to the steps professors suggested in crafting a paper.
Posted by jerich100 (Member # 10202) on :
Thanks for the good info. I went to the link suggested by extrinsic and copied the text to a word file on my computer. As I read it, I started correcting the wording (many passive voice errors, redundant wording, and so on).

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk! I'm turning into a freak.

Long ago, I worked at a shoe store for six years. For decades after that, every time I was in a shoe store I would start straightening their displays until I could fight off the urge.

I digress. If I can find 30+ blinding, obvious glitches in that woman's successful novel summary, perhaps my work is good enough. [Smile]

Yet, I cannot believe it.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
I too noted problematic mechanical style for prose in the "The Novel Synopsis: What is it." The style is apropos for an informal, everyday expository composition typical of conversational online publications. But not suitable, in my estimation, for published prose.
Posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (Member # 59) on :
Years ago, when I was running the SF and Fantasy Workshop (a by-mail newsletter and writing group), I published as series of booklets (OUTLINES, SYNOPSES, PROPOSALS THAT SOLD) that contained such things from published science fiction and fantasy writers.

Mike Resnick happened to be one of them, and later, he published his own compilation of such things from other writers which he titled I Have This Nifty Idea: ...Now What Do I Do with It?

The link will take you to where you can order a copy from Amazon.

Maybe if enough demand develops for copies, he'll do an ebook version or reprint it.
Posted by jerich100 (Member # 10202) on :
Thanks Kathleen. I ordered the book.

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2