View Full Version : Summary Question

11-29-2005, 02:24 AM
When an agent or publishing company asks for a "one-page" or "brief" summary, is it preferable to explain or give away the ending so there's nothing hanging? Or is something like "[Hero] must fight to defeat [Villian] before it's too late!" acceptable?

12-10-2005, 06:35 AM
I've been told to avoid "cliff hanging." You're not contacting agents to entertain them--though hopefully you'll succeed in doing so when they read your ms, whether that's goal #1 or not. You want them to sell your book for you. To do so, they need to know all of it. If you want them to read the whole ms, don't keep them in the dark on the outline. It was hard for me to get over revealing everything too, but when I did, it worked out!

12-10-2005, 10:11 PM
Unfortunately, you do have to give away the ending. Like CrazyWriter said, it's hard (feels like you're ruining the surprise of a really cool Christmas gift) but they need to know how it ends. On the plus side, think of it in this fashion. The agent knows the ending, but the surprise isn't completely revealed. They would need to read it to know how you executed the resolution. Sort of like saying, "In an intense skirmish, the Hero overpowers the Villain in a duel." Okay, the agent knows that the good guy won, but he doesn't know the fine print of it until the story is read. Know what I mean? That's the consolation I receive when I send out my work.

12-12-2005, 04:19 AM
If you want them to read the whole ms, don't keep them in the dark on the outline.

I was actually referring to the initial query letter, which consists of only a few paragraphs. Outlines understandably need to be concluded.

Thank you both for your input.

12-12-2005, 06:17 AM
In a query? Um, I don't think so. I worded the last line of my romance query like this: " Laced with comedy, sexual tension and self-discovery, Alex shows that not all knights wear shining armor and sometimes, the damsel rescues the knight." Vague, but it was enough to intrigue the agent in asking for the full ms.

Andrew Zack
12-12-2005, 07:06 PM
In a query, I don't think you need to give away the ending. You should read my article on query letters on my website. You'll find it helpful.

In the synopsis, you do have to give it away.