Last weekend in my Nano to Publish update I mentioned I would write a summary for a book that you would send to an editor or agent. This is NOT the back of the book summary, which is really teaser.
So in a three paragraph format, which ties to a three act play if you like tying your novels to movies in your head ( I see everything I read or write as film showing in the world’s smallest movie theater, but at least it has great surround sound).
Elizabeth is the second oldest in a family of five daughters. She is long on intelligence and humor, and enjoys the world around her a result. Her oldest sister, Jane, is her closest companion and confidant. They live in a small village where their acquaintance limit their options for marriageable men. When a rich man moves into their small neighborhood, he immediately becomes the object of their mother’s obsession as a husband for Jane. Jane obligingly falls in love with the young man. Unfortunately, his friend, Mr. Darcy schemes to separate the two, insulting Elizabeth and the rest of her family along the way.
A distant cousin arrives determined to marry one of the daughters as he will inherit the estate after Elizabeth’s father’s death. He proposes to Elizabeth but she declines. Her close friend marries the cousin to the shock of the family. Elizabeth travels to stay with the married friend and her cousin after their marriage. She encounters Mr Darcy, who proposes. Elizabeth declines him severely, citing his wretched behavior. Mr. Darcy writes a letter of some heart felt persuasion defending himself against her charges. Elizabeth is forced to consider the counter accusations Mr. Darcy supplies.
Elizabeth encounters Mr. Darcy for a third time while on a vacation with her Aunt and Uncle. He is much changed in behavior and she finds herself softening towards him. Their time together is cut short however by the news that her youngest sister has eloped. Elizabeth blurts out her troubles to Mr Darcy before rushing off with her Aunt and Uncle to assist in the search for the sister. Initially unbeknown to Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy finds the young love birds, pays off the man in question to marry the sister, and saves Elizabeth’s reputation. Elizabeth is eventually brought to know these good acts and it seals her change of opinion of him. Mr Darcy brings his friend back to the neighborhood so the friend might woo Jane and succeeds in wooing Elizabeth himself. Elizabeth and Jane are married much to their mother’s pleasure.
I think you know what book this is. It’s not a perfect summary, I only spent about a week on it. I didn’t cover every plot point. In a three paragraph set up you can’t. You have to pick and choose what presents a total picture to the reader. In this case the agent/editor you are trying to catch. I advise you work at your summary until it feels exciting to you. Expand it when the submission instruction allow for expansion. Contract it when they say otherwise. Follow the instructions. LOL.