Writing a compelling summary of your story is not only important for the pitch to a publisher but also for the writer himself. The summary sets the overall tone of the work and gives a guideline on how to proceed writing. This article explores the importance and benefits of writing a good summary of your story.
Why do I need to write a summary?
Before investing an exorbitant amount of time writing a story one should at least sit back and ask oneself these questions: Does this story work? Is this what I want to do? A summary is an option to answer these questions. While writing a summary, the writer must think about the main plot points. Think of a finished story like a painting in a museum. The artist usually made a sketch before to check if the proportions are working, if the colours match and if the message of the painting works for him, before buying the expensive paint and starting painting on canvas. A summary, in the allegory of a painting, is like the sketch. To write a summary the writer has to put his imagination on paper and sort them in a short compelling little written piece.
My experience with writing summaries
When I am writing summaries for a comic book the result is usually boring. Therefore I failed as a writer. To prevent this unwanted result I first write one version, which is just a plain summary of the story. Then I make a list with the feelings I want to bring close to the reader like for example happiness, joy or fear and anxiety. Lastly I create another list with the words I think could help the summary achieve the wanted appeal by the audience, like salt and pepper in a meal. During the writing process, there is always some back and forth. First I think the summary is good but the next day I am not happy with it anymore. So it takes me some time and I always get a lot of scrap paper but I sometimes get a result that pleases me.
I believe writing summaries is an underrated skill worth having as a writer. It helped me a lot for my work as a comic book artist and I hope my ideas on writing summaries will help you with your projects.