I think we should attempt to state neat summaries before we start reading our work. We’ve all been there. You’re listening to someone read his/her character speak to a father for paragraphs, cross a desert for pages, kill someone out of the blue…and you think: What the heck is this story about?
It might be more of a problem for me, but when you don’t have a sentence or two succinctly describing your story, you have trouble explaining it to other people…as well as writing it. Soon enough after starting your story, if not before, it might be a great idea to put down a very short summary of what it is about, for both the sake of the readers and the author.
Here it is broken down by Writer’s Digest:
In a mystery [genre] set in modern Los Angeles [macro setting], a female
bomb squad technician [main character] pursues a mad bomber [opposition]
who killed her partner.
—Demolition Angel by Robert Crais
A by-the-book Army officer and a break-the-rules Green Beret [main
characters] battle a new Nazi Fourth Reich [opposition] in a techno-thriller
[genre] set a newly united Germany [macro setting].
—Kriegspiel by Todd A. Stone
Here’s my attempt:
After surviving a year-long kidnapping ordeal, an obsessive young woman hunts down her captors and their accomplice gang network in a struggle for dominance of the underworld of Los Angeles.
Okay, that may not be the perfect description. But it made me think more about what the story is. I’ll leave off with some more examples. Guess what they’re from…
A spirited farm boy, Luke Skywalker, joins rebel forces to save the Princess from the evil Darth Vader, and the galaxy from the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star.
In an oppressive future, a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task.
Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.
I’m Batman. (You knew it was coming.)
Answers: Most of these were DUH, I know. 1. Star Wars 2. Fahrenheit 451 3. The Hunger Games 4. Every piece of Batman literature
Try your hand at it in the comments!