After the pitch comes the summary / blurb / query. These three are practically the same thing but can be separated for different purposes only depending on who's talking. If you write a good enough query, publishers might use that on the book's jacket cover. Or if you're not into traditional publishers, it's likely you'll hook a lot of new customers online or in person after a short read. For ideas, read the backs of a few printed books. You'll always find professional quality blurbs there--but be sure to read the ones in your genre more often! The jacket covers of works that are in your genre will help you to figure out how to write that type.
Just like the pitch, the summary / blurb / query reveals several elements.
What the Summary / blurb / query should contain:
Who is the main character?
What is the major conflict?
What / who are the obstacle(s)?
Show a theme – a theme helps focus the book and give it a deep impact.
Provoke Dramatic Questions - A Dramatic Question gives the story a purpose and excitement. It gives the reader the need to open the book and turn pages. All good books answer the main dramatic question within their pages, even if it is in a way that the audience does not expect.
Who is the villain?
What does the villain (or antagonist) want? / How does he try to stop the hero (or protagonist)?
Reveal character growth - Sometimes you may add in something to reveal the need for character growth.
Here are some of my main rules for writing a good summary / blurb / query: Three short paragraphs at most. Four is pushing it, though you MIGHT get away with it. You can have less, but very rarely more. Do not write the book's About summary in long, uninterrupted paragraphs. This is boring, and it confuses the eyes and stresses out the readers.
It is difficult to balance telling too much, info dumping, and not telling enough. This takes practice and others' opinions and knowledge. One way to cut words is to look for tautologies, or repetitions. Another is to avoid explaining things away; instead, try to sum up what you are saying with concise words, like replacing "some things angered Mike easily, and he would yell and throw things and ..." with something shorter than sums it up better, "Mike was temperamental". Tactically underplaying things has a very powerful effect on a scene.
Here is an example summary from my old Dragons and Princes novel, which is currently still here on Wattpad:
Death has taken their loved ones and made them bitter and desperate for their war to end. As Faeana Dagur kneels over her enemy's dying brother with a dagger in her hand, her cold reserve falters and unleashes a grieving magic that sends a black dragon falling from the night sky—a dragon the enemy has sent to kill her.
The dragon is ruthless and dangerous, and when the beast nearly kills Marquis Morganthe for trying to control its will, he realizes summoning it was a mistake he should never have made. He resorts to other methods to end the vicious war, kidnapping the woman who'd watched his brother die—the daughter of the enemy king—and beginning dangerous new negotiations that threaten to end both of their races with one swift strike. A strike that is aimed at the heart of Faeana's people, but which might double back upon his instead.
Notice there are two main characters mentioned. Faeana and Marquis. They both intend to end a war that is killing their people, and they are enemies. This tells us there is going to be drama unfolding within the book, and the goals of both are clearly defined. One character is up against an obstacle, which happens to be a person; there is also a goal for each of them to reach, and even though it is the same goal, more conflict is hinted: what he does could have dire consequences. However, there is a third character—a dragon—who brings about the need for change. Showing that a leading character has (or will have) a need to change is an excellent piece of bait that will draw readers to open a book. I've attempted to bring some more intrigue into the fray by mentioning that Marquis's plans are backfiring. Either character could die, either race could die, and there is a freaking dragon in the mix. Sa-weet! You really can't go wrong with dragons, they're too awesome.
YOU ARE READING
Need help developing your skills, or just need to brush up on some tips when you are having writers' block? I use these techniques everyday when I write, right from my own store of private writer's cheat sheets. Also included are posts on creating...