Writing a Book Summary

Blogging is easy for me. It’s mostly a matter of letting my stream of consciousness flow through my finger tips onto the page. There’s not a lot of thinking, because either the thinking has been done or my thoughts are being processed as I write. The only time it’s hard is when my mind is blank — it’s hard to stream something that isn’t there. Often, though, I can start writing and an idea will show up that I can develop into a blog post, even if it’s only to say that my mind is blank.

Writing novels isn’t that difficult once I get started. It’s more a matter of sitting down and working out the puzzle and trying not to get bored by the necessary scenes. (The scenes that are necessary to the story, but that have been in my head so long it seems as if they’ve already been written.) What’s hard is getting started. To me, writing a novel is about finally getting the story out of my head, but if there is no story caroming around trying to get out, I have no real impetus to write.

Writing at someone else’s request is whole other situation. It feels too much like homework, and although I never minded homework when I was young, at least I don’t think I did, my mind now balks at having to do something by request.

This latest “something” isn’t onerous. It just feels like it because of the aforesaid balky mind. I’m supposed to be writing a summary of my soon-to-be-published book (my publisher is aiming for October 20!). Even though it’s been a while since I last worked on the book, I mostly remember it. (I’m looking forward to the day I completely forget so I can read it as if it’s new to me.) I just need to summarize it in a way that will entice everyone to read it. Because of course everyone will want to read the book, they just don’t know it yet. And it’s not as if I have to write a synopsis of the whole thing to get a publisher interested, because he already is interested and working on putting the book together. All I need is a short 300 word blurb and a longer 3000 word summary.

Shouldn’t be difficult, right? But apparently, I prefer to write about writing the blurb than to actually write it.

You’d think I would have been smart enough to have already written it, knowing the book was going to be published, but somehow, just like with homework, I’ve put it off until the last minute. (Actually, that’s not true. For the most part, I think I did homework right away so I wouldn’t have it hanging over me.) In this way, at least, I was much more disciplined as a child.

But I am thinking about the synopsis, so that’s something, right? Maybe if I think about it long enough, it will pretend to be a blog post and I can just let it flow through my fingers onto the page.

Then the real work starts: a bio. You’d think after almost 3,000 blog posts, many of them about my life, it would be easy to come up with something interesting to say in a bio, but nope. Total blank.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

6 Responses to “Writing a Book Summary”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Good luck. I hope you’re able to get through your homework quickly.

  2. kcoffman Says:

    Part of the reason I hate synopses is it seems to me they trivialize the work. If I could summarize my book in a paragraph or two, I wouldn’t have bothered with the rest. I’m sure it’s just a lapse of discipline or laziness. I know the cover copy is important because theoretically, purchasing decisions are made on these few words. After the company has sold over 60,000 books. you’d think I would know, but I don’t. What do people use to make a purchasing decision? How can I do more of that and sell more books? I have no idea.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I need to figure this out because I think this book has potential, and I want it to have a chance. Besides, it’s a fun book, and there isn’t enough fun in the world right now. Keeping my fingers crossed that the synopsis I come up with works.

  3. Sam Sattler Says:

    What intrigues me about a book summary is how different one is from another. Some seem to give away most of the plot’s twists and turns while others tell the potential reader hardly anything. I use the books’ summaries as sort of a guide to what I can say about a book’s plot in my reviews without being accused of having revealed a “spoiler” or two. But even that doesn’t work all the time, and on several occasions I’ve been reprimanded for revealing a detail that is the highlight of the book’s jacket summary.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Anything listed on a book jacket should be fine to use for a review, because they’ve already given away that plot point. It’s not like it’s a secret anymore. Anything in the first third of the book is also fair game. Where people run into trouble with reviews is when they give away too many of the major plot twists and/or the ending.

  4. Judy Galyon Says:

    A line or two about travels is always good,


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