How short can a summary get?

I’m “supposed” to be able to nail it in 35-40 words. Closest I’ve gotten is the 44-word version:

A girl transforms the beast her step-sister meant to kill her, but when he appears to break trust, she flees for her life. Pitted against supernatural forces, she must now decide whether to trust someone she can see or someone she thought she knew.

I’m looking for feedback here. Does it sound cheesy-girlie or possibly interesting? I’m honestly not going for the romance-thing, does it sound like it’s falling in, inevitably? Yeah, I’m hyper-sensitive about that– I probably just need to get over it.


This is my latest attempt to way-summarize my NaNo. I printed out my current version to read/edit and it’s at 95-pages, single-spaced. There is obviously a whole lot going on that I can’t even touch in my description, but I still need to find some sort of focusing “nugget.”

(If you feel more comfortable e-mailing feedback than writing, that’s fine too.)


Added 2-5-07

Here is a link to a longer (more detailed/understandable?) summary. Too long for a book-back, I’ll guess. About 200 words.

6 thoughts on “How short can a summary get?

  1. I like the second one a lot better. The first one is confusing to me. I like the explanation with the step-mom too.

    Second one is good–I’m interested!

    You’re going for with your NaNO–good for you, Amy Jane!!!!

    Thanks for stopping by–;D

  2. I agreed w/ Chris that the second was better, so I cut out the first.

    Same question, really: does it sound interesting yet? Enough to want to know more?  Or is it a dragged-out teaser not really saying anything?

  3. Hi, Amy!

    Actually, I don’t think it sounds romantic at all! It sounds like a fantasy story. I took “beast” and “transform” literally. Now I know, you may want it that way!

    The last sentence could use some clarification. I take it the person she “thought she knew” is the beast and “can see” is someone else in contrast to the supernatural forces? But the beast is also someone she can see, no? Is there anyway you can hint at who the third person is without giving away too much ?

    I AM very interested, though. This teaser is really great. It’s just too bad it has to be so short! A few more sentences and you have a back-of-the-cover synopsis!

  4. Ah, Nikki–

    There is the difficulty: which extra sentences to add. There is so much going on it’s hard to choose.

    Good guessing on the former beast as the, “she thought she knew.” The, “can see” is because she’s currently on the run from him and hiding with someone else.


    So many twists and turns. I’m working really hard to streamline the original tale, but there’s still too many “major” characters….

  5. Hi, very intriguing. If the someone is the beast, could you say “something visible”? I’m a little lost. You can tell there’s another person, but I can’t tell which “someone” is the beast or the new character. But not knowing the full story yet is also handicapping. Sounds fun, not at all a mush book. :)

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