Sovereignty Summary

Wherein I learn a lot from writing a 100-word summary of a manuscript.

So yeah, somehow two whole months have disappeared and I haven’t done much writing. It’s actually more intimidating to try to revise existing manuscripts than it is to try to write new manuscripts.

Anyway, in order to spark some positive momentum, I challenged myself to write a 100-word summary of the plot of The Sovereign of Tel. That probably sounds trivially simple, but for me to zoom that far out from the story and give such a super high-level overview of it is quite a challenge. I have tried to write “pitches” of my books before, but those only included the setup for the story. For this, I wanted the entire story arc from start to finish.

This is what I came up with:

When Elaheron’s powerful leader falls ill, it leaves the country ripe for attack from neighboring Morland. Hayden Metherel, Elaheron’s heir, is unprepared to lead the country through the crisis, so his sister Elenora takes control for the good of the nation. But before she can consolidate her rule, a coup attempt by the rival Andaloran family drives her from the castle. The new Andaloran leader, unwittingly influenced by an enemy spy, enacts a plan to surrender to Morland and submit to their rule. Elenora rallies her scattered forces to retake her father’s crown, secure the Metherel family reputation, and retain her country’s sovereignty.

I could probably spend months tweaking each individual word in that paragraph, but overall I’m quite pleased with it. I feel like that captures the most basic thread of the story.

What’s interesting to me is that it has no mention of the main character and story I originally started out writing. The summary above describes the events that I came up with to fill in the background around my original main character and his plight. As it turned out, I wrote more about the background events than I did about the original character and his story.

My point is that I learned a valuable lesson here: Condensing the entire story down into 100 words revealed the most basic core of the story in a way I hadn’t been able to see before. Now when I go through my revisions, I need to make sure that every scene in some way relates back to the above summary.

(It’s also shockingly clear that I need to change the name of my country. “Elaheron” and its “Elahi” people sound way too much like the name “Elenora,” and there’s no way I’m changing Elenora.)

(Also the summary revealed with crystal clarity that the name of the book should be Sovereignty, so I will start calling it that.)

Next I want to try to turn the 100-word summary into a 1000-word summary, and see what happens.