The Truth Is Somewhere
This is definitely not one of my typical articles. The intention here is not to give the reader a whole slew of how-to pointers or writing tips, although that part of what will happen. This is nothing more than an attempt to filter through some of the stuff floating around inside my own brain while explaining some interesting points about writing, summaries, and blurbs.
First and foremost, I want to point out that there are no real short answers for anything. Everything has an explanation that takes more than thirty seconds or so to get out. Practically every situation has a long winded set of reasons that can sometimes be dumbed down into a short summary that leaves out a massive amount of details.
The idea today shed some light on some of the details that have a nasty habit of being left out. Usually, the left out stuff is pretty important. That’s kind of the point in dumbing something down. You give only the minor details that leave barely any room for someone to question you further.
No, I am not trying to teach you the fine art of becoming a liar. What I am really talking about is the finesse required to create a summary for a fictional story. It sure reads like the creation of a great lie though, doesn’t it?
In truth, that’s really all fiction is. The creation of a time and place that may or may not exist full of events and characters that you create. Some of the contents might be realistic or coincide with true events. Or maybe, the story is simply based off of one or two articles of truth while the rest is completely made up.
What it boils down to is this- writing fiction is nothing more than a huge tangle of fabrications, falsehoods, lies, fibs, and half-truths that form a nicely laid out plot with believable characters. Writing the summary of this entertaining web of lies is as basic as removing the most important things so the reader will want to know just how much more fun you could possibly have squeezed into one story.
That’s where telling a muted version of the truth and writing a summary of a story are different. A muted version of the truth is usually something people will simply hear then move on. A summary of a fictional story on the other hand gives the reader just enough to draw them in so they will buy or download the story and really get acquainted with the world you created.
Double Down On The Bull
If the summary of a story is nothing more than a removal of most of the important details that gives the information in a smaller form, then a book description or blurb are close cousins of this particular step of writing.
A book description should dance around important events without giving away spoilers. A blurb should do the same exact thing in an even shorter version of the story.
Most stories have enough minor events to keep a reader focused. If you must give a spoiler, keep them to a bare minimum. You don’t want the reader to solve the entire equation before they get a chance to love or hate the characters.
Yes, I said love or hate your characters. Let that soak in for a moment….
When a reader is caught up in a story that has been woven well enough to drown out the real world for a bit, they will form a relationship with your fictional characters.
A good story can leave the reader feeling sympathy for victims of events, love for the vixen that turned the head of the heart-throb she loves, a healthy respect for the hero, and distrust of the villain.
Whatever the case may be for your particular genre, your readers should “feel” something for your leading characters. That means you (the writer) must have a working relationship with the characters as you create them and put them on paper (or a computer screen).
Anyway, when you’re writing a summary, blurb, or a simple description you should try to give just enough of the starring personality as you write the words. You do not need to describe the character from head to toe or explain every aspect about them, especially in these muted pieces of writing.
You do, however, need to let their personality shine through as you write. This sets the tone that will draw your reader in, making them want more. After all, the point in crafting a story is so that others will enjoy reading it. That means you have to grab their attention first. That’s where a well written description and blurbs will help you.
A summary can help an author, too. A lot of authors will place a free chapter here and there on certain websites in order to draw readers into the plot of their story. However, not all publishing platforms allow this sort of promotion.
That being said, there is no unwritten rule about writing a summary that keeps the story intact, yet muted. The reader still gets drawn in and leaves them wanting to know what the full version of the story is and how much further you took it into the plot.
Make It Shiny
The sky is no where near the limit if you write a well crafted story with a well crafted summary to boot. Follow that with beautifully worked out descriptions and blurbs, and you will surely get the attention of avid readers.
The problem here is that even with all of these wonderful tips, tricks, pointers, ideas, and bits of advice- no reader will care how interesting your imaginary world is if your work is poorly cared for.
Any writer who takes any kind of pride in their work will tell you how crazy they are about checking and double checking their work for typos.
Not everyone has the luxury of having an editor, proofreader, and publisher to catch all of the mistakes in a manuscript. However, if the author is patient yet persistent, he or she will find the majority and fix them long before the story goes into publication.
On the off chance that more mistakes were missed, the writer (if self published) can always go back, fix the errors and reupload the manuscript. No harm, no foul.
Anyway, to make a fair point- most authors start out writing stories that have terrible grammar. This includes the most famous and seasoned authors out there. I have personally read several books by well known writers that have some serious grammar, punctuation, formatting, and spelling errors.
This, by no means suggests the writer shouldn’t care about a mistake or two. In fact, especially for self published authors, this should make you more more methodical about proofreading and such.
Although this must seem to be very far from the topic I started out on, but it’s not. In truth, the same persistence and patience should be applied to creating the story and all of the smaller versions.
Build your world, create your characters, invent your contraptions and gizmos. Fill your world with whatever your imagination dares to make a reality of. Once that story has come to its end, check your work meticulously.
Write your description, summaries, blurbs, and tag lines. Check them just as methodically as you would a full length novel. There is no such thing as proofreading too many times. There is such a thing as not enough, though.
If you do not have an editor or anyone else who can help you through the entire process, follow the steps below. It’s a bit repetitive, but such is the life’s work of the Indie Author.
- Write (Add to your outline as you go along)
- Proofread & Edit
- Proofread & Edit
- Write the description
- Proofread & Edit
- Write your blurbs
- Proofread & Edit
- Go back to the manuscript and proofread again. (Fix any mistakes that might be left.)
Above all of this, have a great time telling your story. Use software that is right for you and your budget. And, most of all- keep writing. Time and practice is the true teacher of any craft, including writing!