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Need advice and feedback please!


New Member
So one of the things I struggle with while writing my book (The Defender of Austasia) is summarizing it into a small paragraph. People often ask what the book is about and I always have trouble explaining it simply, while also sparking interest by telling a bit of what the story is about. So I will post a very rough summary of my book (which is very much a work in progress). Any feedback on how the summary is and tips on how to do it better would be much appreciated!

"The ground beneath the earth's surface trembles as the balance that holds everything together is broken. Gordon Windel is mistakenly brought into the world of Austasia. He joins together with those who brought him there as they try to figure out the extent of danger that the problem created. As they journey across the newly broken and mysterious land, never before seen creatures arise from the darkness bringing the worst of the evil with them, furthering the depth of mystery of what lies ahead."

Thanks for reading!


Article Team
There are a couple of things that pop out for me. First, I think things can be tightened up without loss of information. Second, too vague on the conflicts your main character will face and no solid idea of who or what the antagonist of the story is. Three, no idea what the stakes are.

Here are some links that helped me a lot. Maybe you can get something out of them too.

How to write a book blurb for a query letter to a literary agent
Query Letter Synopsis Tips: Keep It Tight With These Four Steps
Mike Wells Official Website: A "Secret" Formula for Creating a Short Synopsis for Your Book


toujours gai, archie
I'll echo Penpilot but put it as questions.

What is your main character (MC) trying to achieve?
What happens if the MC fails?
What happens if the MC succeeds?
Who or what opposes the MC as he tries to achieve his goal?

I don't want to know about the world or the mysteries or creatures. I only want to know the above.
This is from Janet Reid, aka Query Shark, a literary agent in reference to query letters but the same generally applies to any shortform summary of your book that's intended to get the reader interested. She covers this, but the basic premise is that you need to establish who the main character is, what they want, and what's at risk if they fail. Here's her pitch:

"There's a formula for getting the basics of your plot written down.

I copied this from my handout on effective query letters that I've posted a couple times:

3. A query letter MUST tell an agent what the book is about
3a Who is the main character?
3b What does he want?
3c What is keeping him from getting what he wants?
3d What must he sacrifice to get what she wants?


3a Jack Reacher

3b wants to see the grave of an old, almost forgotten blues musician

3c when he is suddenly, inexplicably arrested for a murder he could not have committed.

3d When the guy behind the false arrest is also killed, Reacher can stay in town, at great peril to himself, to solve the case or he can leave shake the dust of this crazy town off his sneakers and get on with his wandering.

How to convey what the book is about:

3e The main character must decide whether to: do THIS or do THAT

3f If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are:

3g If s/he decides NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are:


3e Katniss Everdeen must decide whether to take her younger sister's place when she is called to be their district's entry in the Hunger Games.

3f If she goes in her sister's place, her family will suffer because Katniss' hunting skills are what keeps them from starving now;

3g If she decides not to go, her sister will surely die in the Games.

Notice: no backstory. Your reader will jump right in to the story with you.
This is not intended to show the exact wording you use in a query, but will help you distill your plot to the essentials. You need the essentials of Act One, not a rundown of the entire plot."


Also, just a small note, but specificity. Try not to censor the fun stuff with vagueness. You mention that there are never before seen creatures prowling the shadows, but what kind. Dragons? Eldritch horrors that drive humans insane should they look on them? Demons? Centaurs or some other form of mythical critter thought vanished forever? Something completely unique to this world you've created? Be specific about the fun stuff that makes it unique and different; all you need is a word or two or three to conjure up a vivid image of what you're talking about and it can make all the difference.

I suffer from the same vagueness problem. It's hard to convey specifics in such a small space, and it takes a lot of practice, but it's those specifics that grab people's attention, I've found.