I am horrible at telling people about what I am writing. Like, literally horrible. And it doesn’t matter who is asking me. It can be my family, a friend, or someone at a writer’s conference. What I end up doing I when I am asked is typically mumble something about it being about a boy or a girl doing something exciting.
I don’t say anything about the plot or setting or what the book is really about in the first place. All I really say is that it is about a person doing something. Which sounds like a really lame and bland story.
I do slightly better at telling what the story is about when typing up a synopsis. After all, I have more time when than when I am talking to someone, and I can edit my synopsis as much as I want. But it is still really hard.
For a while, I thought that this was just some problem I struggled with. But then I noticed other things about how authors, even professional published ones, struggle to talk about their work. That made me feel a lot better.
And now, you are probably wondering, what does all of this have to do with writing story summaries?
I’ll let to the point.
As you know, if you follow my little blog, I do book reviews. For a while, I copied down the back over/inside flap story synopsis to go along with my review. However, my mom told me that she wanted me to write my own summaries. So I started doing that instead.
After reading the book, I would sit down a few days later to type of the book review and think back over the story and write down a synopsis. I did my very best to not look at the book summary on the inside flap, since I didn’t want my summary to sound like that.
And something happened when I started to do that. I was having to craft a story synopsis all on my own. And I found my brain shifting into a frame of mind where it was able to do that. I was thinking about what summarized the plot of the novel and what would hook a reader. For some of the books, I was able to tie in the title into my synopsis.
By writing out summaries of the books I was reading, I was learning how to craft a good synopsis. Now, are the summaries I write for my book reviews perfect? No, or at least, I don’t think so. If someone asked me for a synopsis of one of the books I’ve written, could I give them one on the spot? Probably not. After all, it takes me a little bit of time to write out a synopsis for a book review and talking about my writing is hard for me (and a topic for another time).
But, by writing out summaries for other books, I’ve started to be able to “write out” a synopsis for my own books in my head. I am learning how to look at the stories from different angles and grab out the tidbits that could catch a reader’s interest.
So, while I can’t perfectly talk about, much less pitch, my novels yet, writing summaries has helped me grown in that area.
Do you struggle to give a synopsis of your writing? What are some of the ways that you work on crafting a summary?