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        How to Write a Book Summary: Example, Tips, & Bonus Section

        • calenderFeb 06, 2024
        • calender 8 min read

        Writing a book summary is like telling a gripping story in a nutshell. It requires the knack for capturing the crux of a story without losing its essence. When it comes to summarizing a book, it’s all about weaving the key elements – characters, plot, and themes – into a concise yet captivating narrative.

        In this guide, we’ll explore the art of creating the perfect book summary to intrigue readers. From how to start a summary of a book to perfectly concluding the summary, we’ve included everything. You’ll learn how to convey the heart of your story and paint a vivid picture of the world you’ve created. So let’s dive in to see practical tips and amazing book summary examples!  

        Create an appealing book summary and ignite readers’ interest!

        What is a book summary? 

        A book summary is a short and accurate description of a book’s main themes, plot, and characters. Summaries of books highlight key ideas and messages conveyed by the author. They also convey unique story elements and information about the major events and the setting of the story. It is different from a book synopsis which is used by authors to pitch their work to publishers or literary agents.

        What is the summary on the back of a book called? 

        The summary on the back of a book is known as a book blurb. A blurb is a short, promotional piece that aims to generate curiosity about the book. In contrast, a book summary is longer and offers a more comprehensive story outline. 

        Why is a book summary important?

        A book summary helps readers make a quick decision whether to read the book or not. It can also be a good promotional tool for authors. An attractive book summary can be posted on social media platforms to increase book visibility and sales. 

        How long should a book summary be? 

        While the length of a book summary varies, it ranges from 100–250 words. For more complex and lengthier works (such as historical fiction), the book summary can be longer. 

        How to write a book summary 

        Here is a step-by-step guide about how to write a book summary: 

        1. Invest time

        Read the book again, or at the very least, review the main themes of the story, characters, and story points before you start writing.

        2. Determine the focus

        Identify the central theme, idea, or conflict that drives the narrative and ensure your opening sentence or paragraph reflects that core element.

        3. Create your hook

        Begin with a compelling first line that draws readers in and sums up the main points of the book. Consider mystery, intrigue, or a perplexing predicament.

        4. Sketch the experience

        Provide a succinct summary of the primary story points, highlighting the onset of action, climax, resolution, and stirring up of emotions. Keep it simple and rational, but refrain from getting overly technical. 

        5. Lay out the personas

        Give a brief introduction to the key characters, emphasizing their motivations, personalities, and roles in the narrative. Never forget: show, don’t tell! To create a clear picture, use conversation and actions that are descriptive.

        6. Reiterate the themes

        What are the guiding principles or theories that the book delves into? Mention the topics just enough to avoid sounding condescending. 

        7. Close with impact

        Pitch in further details to the reader! Put a closing thought-provoking question, an inspirational quote, or a general overview of the book’s influence at the end of your summary.

        8. Edit and refine

        Check for misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and consistency. Make sure the tone and style fit the genre and intended readership of the book. Whether you’re writing a summary of books or a single book, these tips will benefit you.  

        Note: Use a thesaurus! Replace common words with more evocative synonyms to improve the quality and add depth to your writing.

        Bonus section: 5 more tips on how to write a summary of a book

        • Write an engaging opening line

        Draw them in with the opening line and pique their curiosity about what comes next. Try a witty quip, a chilling revelation, or an unnerving mystery.

        Example: In the opulent haze of Gatsby’s Long Island parties, Jay Gatsby longs to recapture a lost love and rewrite the American Dream, one dazzling green light at a time. (Adapted from The Great Gatsby)

        • Be lucid and straightforward

        Get right to the point without being weighed down by the details. Keep it clear and concise without the fluff or flowery language. 

        Example: Hazel and Augustus, embark on a profound journey of love and discovery, despite the shadows cast by their cancer diagnoses. As they navigate the complexities of life and illness, their story poses a heart-wrenching question: how do you live fully when your time is running out? (Inspired by The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

        • Steer clear of spoilers

        Probe the conflict and the plot twists, but don’t give away the endgame. Hint at the challenges the characters face, but don’t give away the surprise element.

        Example: A brilliant young scientist, ostracized for his unorthodox theories, stumbles upon a discovery that could rewrite the laws of physics… and unleash a cataclysmic force upon the world. (Inspired by The Martian by Andy Weir)

        • Highlight the book’s strong points

        While writing a summary of a book, ask yourself what makes the book unique and captivating. Is it the setting, the characters, the writing style, or the profound themes it explores? Underline the distinctive features, protagonists and antagonists, or profound viewpoints. 

        Example: In a tale of friendship, betrayal, and redemption, Amir and Hassan’s lives in war-torn Afghanistan test their limits of loyalty and courage. This story captures the complexities of guilt, love, and the quest for atonement amidst a country’s struggle for freedom. (Inspired by Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner

        • Be Impartial

        Stay true to the story and characters, and never add a bias or opinion. If the protagonist makes questionable choices, don’t sugarcoat them. Your summary should be a faithful representation of the story, allowing readers to form their own conclusions.

        Example: Ten isolated souls, a storm-battered island, and a killer with a twisted agenda. And Then There Were None is an edge-of-your-seat puzzle where the line between guest and victim blurs with every death. (Inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None)

        Book summary example

        The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

        In the dark labyrinth of Swedish high society, a scandal of epic proportions is about to unfold. Mikael Blomkvist, a tenacious journalist, has his reputation and career at stake. In a desperate bid for redemption, he takes on the investigation of a decades-old mystery – the disappearance of a young heiress from a powerful family.

        Entwined in this web of secrets is Lisbeth Salander, an enigmatic and fiercely intelligent hacker. With her dark past and unconventional methods, Salander becomes Blomkvist’s most unpredictable ally. Together, they delve into a murky world of hidden truths and twisted lies, unearthing a web of vicious deceit and betrayal.

        As they unravel the threads, the duo confront a sinister adversary who will go to any lengths to keep the past buried. In this gripping narrative, the story weaves through the realms of power, and corruption, challenging every notion of justice and morality.

        Book summary vs. book review 

        A book review includes your personal thoughts and critical analysis, whereas a book summary concentrates on the book’s objective storyline and characters. While a book summary aims to merely describe a book’s content, a book review informs readers about the book’s quality. 

        This concludes our guide about book summaries. After grasping how to write a summary of a book, don’t stop. Begin brainstorming ideas to create a summary of books or a single book as per your requirements. 

        Want to take your book summary to the next level? Our expert team at PaperTrue can create a compelling book summary for you. We also provide expert self-publishing services such as editing, creating a book cover design, online book distribution, securing an ISBN, and creating a book copyright page. 

        Here are some other articles you might find interesting: 

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        Manish Linkedin

        Manish is a serial entrepreneur, business coach, and the Founder of PaperTrue. His vision is to make impeccable English communication possible for everybody, so they can write effectively and gain the academic and professional success they deserve.

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