I used to think that writing a book was a big accomplishment. Then it became writing a good book was the hard part. Of course, both don’t begin to compare to the work that comes after the writing is done.
You have to find a way to summarize the entire plot of your 300+ pages into a single paragraph, then a single sentence. They have to tell enough of the plot to hook people, but not so much to give the whole thing away. They have to be intriguing, exciting even. Here you’ve spent a year or more of your life telling this story in detail, and now you’re expected to sum it all up in a as few words as possible in order to get an agent or a publisher (or if you’re lucky both).
I’m fortunate to have a publisher for In Gathering Shade already, but I still need to summarize the story for the back cover of the book. Generally, this takes quite a few attempts for me. This will be my third book with Creativia, my seventh book overall (I have four under a pen name in the M/M Romance genre), and it doesn’t get easier.
The blurb on the back cover of Forever took something like 10 different iterations to get right. Through Shade and Shadow took at least that much work. So, now as I anticipate getting In Gathering Shade back from my editor, I’m filled with an icy dread at the thought that once again, I need to distill my story down into a paragraph that will invite readers to come into my world.
But, I’ve never been brief. I spent the better part of my junior year of high school learning how to cut my essays down to size for the Regents exam at the end of the year. My pre-test saw essays between 1000 and 2500 words, and I was required to cut that to 500 words. It was a year filled with tears and frustration, but I did it and when my exam was done, I had turned in two essays of 500 words (almost exactly), though I was convinced they were crap. I scored 95% on the exam overall, and got full marks on the essays.
I learned then how to boil sentences down to their bare essences and use precise words, but that isn’t as easy when working with creative work. *sigh* I suppose there is no cure for it, I should just get on with the work of it.
But maybe a cup of coffee first. For strength.