Friday, January 27

Let's Sum It Up

This week we're talking about summary and query letter tips. When It comes to query letters, the only tip I have is don't come to me for tips. I'm not good at them. I never have been, don't know if I ever will be.

Summaries, that's another story. I don't like writing them, but I've gotten pretty good at it. First tip. Spell the editor/agent's name right. I know this seems like common sense, but I made this mistake once. I spent so much time polishing and proofreading the summary, I didn't bother to check the spelling of the editor's name...until after I hit send.

Next tip. You've got to pretty much ignore your secondary characters. You have five pages to sum up eighty thousand words. Keep the focus on the hero and heroine. You should mention the villain if he's a main part of the story.

Next. Don't include character dialogue. You're telling the story, not reading it. This is a situation when it's okay to tell and not show. Include all major plot points but keep it short and sweet. This is not the time to go into detail about the character's backstory, or how sad the heroine looked staring out the window on a rainy night contemplating where her life went wrong.

And the most important tip. Tell the whole story. For the love of all things good, don't end your summary with a cliff-hanger. I know someone who was about to do this. Her reasoning was if the agent wanted to know how it ended, she'd have to request the full. Thank goodness I talked her out of that.

That's pretty much it for me. I know I've probably left a few things out, so feel free to add your own tips.


  1. No, I think you did well, and I picked up on one word (I'm getting better at focus!) and that is TELL. I need to remind myself about that. TELL!

    Great post!

  2. Great tips! I think I'll be using one or all of them this week as I rework my synopsis. Yet again.

  3. Super tips!

    It's funny how many ppl have wanted to end their syns on a cliffhanger for the same reason you mentioned.

    Not a good idea.