When I started the second draft of Tagestraum, I sat down and wrote a query letter first. I was actually very pleased with the query. It had a good balance of all the major elements that make the story interesting, gives a little teaser, and captures the voice.
Unfortunately, a lot of things changed when I did the second draft. A minor subplot became a major story element. The villain's motive changed. The structure of the quest changed. And the main character's arc shifted a little. None of them are huge changes, but it's enough to render the query letter pretty much useless.
This, kids, is why you don't query an unfinished story (well, one reason among many, anyway).
The book is stronger for these changes, but it does mean I have to go back to the drawing board about the query letter. Ah, well. I could use the practice.
Here's a spiffy guide to summarizing stories. I'm really awful at doing summaries, not just of my own work, but of anything that I read. I'm not sure why I'm so bad at it. I think my brain just doesn't synthesize information the right way; I tend to think of stories in bits and pieces, not as a clear through-line of plot. Whenever I summarize something, it always sounds really lame in my head, so I try to make it sound cooler by launching into an unnecessary barrage of details.
I really need to get better at this.
So, I'm taking a page out of the film school book about log lines. Maybe if I practice enough of these, I'll start getting a little better at it.
That's the plan, anyway. How 'bout you guys? Any awesome summarizing tips?