Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Plot Summaries

I am by no means an expert on plots summaries, I am still stumbling my way through them, but I thought I'd share my process with you.

I don't always write with a plot summary, but I have found that there are times when it has come in quite helpful.  The basics are this:  a plots summary is a more detailed outline of your story (from start to finish) that you follow as you write your story chapter by chapter.  It can be as simple or in depth as you want it to be.  This is not the same as the summary that agents may want you to submit to them.  That is a much more detailed summary.

My process.  I begin a Plot Summary by spending a few days thinking through the story from start to finish.  Then I write down my thoughts, from start to finish to frame out the story all the way to the end.  Here is part of my Plot Summary for The Lost Princess.

Prince Trevor has been researching the disappearance of his betrothed for years. Princess Elsbeth had disappeared at sea when she was 10, and he 14. She had been on a voyage from Delphine to Palindore, a voyage to see him. Now, six years later, he needed to find her, and time was running out. If he didn't find her before her 18th birthday, their marriage contract would be void. Part of him wanted the date to come and go without her being found, as he was discovering there might be more than a passing attraction between him and Elle, his kingdom's best guide.

Elle, with her red hair and green eyes, was a beautiful woman. She also reminded him of Elsbeth. He knew it was the eyes, as Elsbeth's hair had been more of a strawberry blond, not the fiery red that crowned Elle's head.

No trace of Elsbeth, or the ship, had ever been found. The only connection he had was that Elle had washed ashore in Faldeira around the time that Elsbeth had one missing. Recently he had discovered that a ship resembling one from Delphine had been seen in harbor in Faldeira around the same time.

He convinces Elle to accompany him to a meeting with a source who may know what happened to Elsbeth. At the meeting, the source tells Trevor that the princess and her friend were thrown overboard during a storm never to be seen again. He doesn't know the name of the person who threw them overboard but would recognize him if he saw him. When Elle walks over to the pair, the source is shocked to see how much she resembles Queen Lisette, Elsbeth's mother.

Trevor convinces Elle to travel to Delphine with him so they can learn the truth of her identity and find the person responsible for Elsbeth's disappearance.

As yo can see, this is not complete, but it gives me an idea where to start.  From this, I will craft my scenes, sometimes changing things from this outline.  How about you?  Do you work with a plot summary or something else?  Share below.


  1. Wow, you are way more organized than me. I could probably flesh out the first 1/4 of the book this way, but rarely could I do it for the whole thing. Good work Mary!!

  2. I'm not quite that organized, but I do have almost everything written down in one form or another. It just might be a note here in the yellow notebook, then another something or other to jog my memory in the green notebook. Only, I spend most of my time trying to figure out which notebook I wrote what in. Maybe I need an outline for my notebooks. Yeah...

  3. Linsday- I don't do this for all, but I have found it makes my book write faster.

    And Tammy--LOL!!! I bought a bunch of composition notebooks (in different colors) at the store for a buck (back to school sales). I gave my projects a specific book (some I have binders for) and tote that notebook around with me to make comments in as I am working on it.


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