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Learning to write a summary for novel

In attempting to get off my duff and back to writing my WIP, I’ve signed up for a couple of Apps to help me brainstorm a few things. One of the exercises has me writing up a summary of my novel. I had always balked at doing so because I couldn’t wrap my head around exactly what I wanted the novel to be about, but tonight I took a stab at it and would like to know your thoughts. I was trying to imagine what it would say on the back of the book cover:

What do you do when a time traveler lands at your feet and claims one of your belongings as his? Do you turn him in or go along with the realization that all your suppositions of reality are way off base? This dilemma is one Rima Dare, assistant curator at the —- Museum in early Aughts San Antonio, Texas, faces in a fierce moment of terror as 18th century merchant, Nathaniel Corsham, Esquire, battles an ancient sorcerer in pursuit of a piece of tapestry in Rima’s possession. She doesn’t even have time to take him home and introduce him to the 21st century before he whisks her away to safety in the furthest reaches of known history. That trip turns into a more complicated conundrum: stay and accept that her talents for psychometry serve a larger purpose or return home in the hope that there hasn’t been too much damage to her budding career? And it really doesn’t help that Nathaniel, in spite of his very English attitude of chin up and brave it, is in desperate need — and desire — of her assistance.

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Hi Sharon. First, I want to read this book, so let us know when it is out, ok? Smile. Some comments about the blurb:

  • Too long. If you think about picking up a book in a bookstore or reading the synopsis online, you only have a few sentences to grab the potential buyers attention.
  • You don’t need all the details that are in there. Indeed, leaving them out raises questions in the readers mind. ‘Ooh, I want to find out why that is!’ For example, don’t mention the tapestry.
  • Names and places (except for the main character) can probably be left out. Maybe leave in Texas? Maybe Nathaniel’s first name?
  • The mention of ‘time traveler’ in the first few words is nice as it states what kind of book this is. Leave that in.
  • The second sentence can be deleted. The ‘what do you do’ question is a great one…don’t give any answers.
  • The last sentence is awesome. Take out the ‘in spite of’ clause and it is a great ending.

Be ruthless in cutting words in the blurb. Your goal is not to inform the potential reader. Your goal is to make them want to know more. Keep cutting until it feels short and then cut a tiny bit more. You have cool ideas in the book…make the reader want to read the book to find them out.

Good luck and keep us posted!

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As blurbs go, I was intrigued about this story with the first sentence; I actually said to myself, “I wish I had thought of that!”. I also like the second sentence, as it hooks the reader into thinking “what would I do?” After that, it was a confusing information dump. The reader wants to find things out as they go along. Don’t boggle their minds; make them want to know more!

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Thank you so much for your feedback! This is what I need to know!

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Thank you so much for your feedback! Excellent points and it will help me a lot!

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Another suggestion: Go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc., and pick out a book that looks interesting to you. Read the blurb attached to it and see if it piques your interest as a reader. There’s no reason you can’t use it as a blueprint for your own. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

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