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REWORKING A SUMMARY

Posted on March 21, 2015

I recently decided to rework one of my first book summaries, the one for The Questing Academy.

I thought I had gotten it right and sent it to Keith for his opinion. He sent back with the best trim job ever, distilling it down to the basics. Here is his lovely version:

Irving arrives at the Questing Academy without a face.

Every aspect of him is a hazy blur except for the bright red button on his chest. He quickly learns he's a character in a story and that he's been brought to the academy to be schooled in his proper role as a questing protagonist. At the school, heroes learn the plotting ropes alongside villains and supporting characters. While authors toil at getting their stories written and printed, their characters kill time at the Questing Academy. As their stories take shape, they endure many changes, some good, and some bad.

A plethora of mysteries and entanglements besiege the academy. One of Irving's character flaws is acute curiosity, and he can't help but try to unravel the mysteries and secrets that abound on campus. This soon lands him in trouble, and he finds himself on Dean Harmstrike's bad side when a pack of emberhounds attack him at the Office of Fine Aunts.

Can Irving and a beautiful fairy unearth the academy's dark secrets before his author gets him published and properly graduated? Find out in the first of this four-book series.


Here's the new version before Keith told me I was being too precious and holding onto too many details:

Irving arrives at the Questing Academy without a face. Every aspect of him is a hazy blur except for the bright red button on his chest. He quickly learns he's a character in a story and that he's been brought to the academy to be schooled in his proper role as a questing protagonist. At the school, heroes learn the plotting ropes alongside villains, and supporting characters. While authors toil at getting their stories written and printed, their characters kill time at the Questing Academy. As their stories take shape, they endure many changes, some good, and some bad.

To most of his classmates, Irving's a smudge, a non-entity unworthy of their attention until his author sees fit to fully describe him. As he adjusts to life on a literary campus, he has to also deal with the twists and turns of his character and story development alongside the plot twists hurled at him by his classmates and professors.

He soon finds himself on Dean Harmstrike's bad side when a pack of emberhounds from Irving's own story attack him at the Office of Fine Aunts.

There are a plethora of mysteries and entanglements afloat at the academy. Irving's creator has marked him as acutely curious. While the faculty tells him to dig into what makes himself tick, he can't help but unravel the mysteries and secrets that abound on campus.

On his quest of self-discovery, he is befriended by another fellow smudge, a beautiful fairy from another book's supporting cast. He also gets mixed up with a confused vampire whose fickle writer is constantly making revisions, including writing her twin brother out of her story. He also makes enemies with Lord Raggleswamp, a feisty braggart, and Gared, the Golden Knight, whose silver tongue can command any and all monsters.

Can Irving unearth the academy's dark secrets before his author gets him published and properly graduated? Find out in the first of this four-book series.


Here's the old summary:

There's an academy where characters go to be schooled. While their authors toil at getting their stories written and printed, these characters are killing time at The Questing Academy. As their stories take shape, they endure many changes, some good, and some bad. At the academy, heroes learn the plotting ropes alongside villains, supporting characters and even window dressing castmates such as guard three whose only contribution to his scene is a poorly timed sneeze.

Ah, but the academy stresses there are no small roles. Plopped into the middle of things is a grand hero, Irving Wishbutton. As he adjusts to life on a literary campus, he has to also deal with the twists and turns of his character and story development. It isn't always pretty.

For one, he arrives a smudge, his only distinct feature, a gaudy red button on his chest. Everything else about him is hazy and not defined yet due to his writer who has avoided describing him early on. Two, he immediately gets on Dean Harmstrike's bad side when a pack of emberhounds from Irving's own story attack him at the Office of Fine Aunts. Three, there are a plethora of mysteries and entanglements afloat at the academy. Irving's creator has marked him as acutely curious. While the faculty tells him to dig into what makes himself tick, he can't help but unravel the mysteries and secrets that abound on campus.

On his quest of self-discovery, he is befriended by another fellow smudge, a beautiful fairy from another book's supporting cast. He also gets mixed up with a confused vampire whose fickle writer is constantly making revisions, including writing her twin brother out of her story. Lord Raggleswamp, a short-statured short-tempered braggart of a villain and Gared, The Golden Knight, whose silver tongue can command any and all monsters, are both constant thorns at Irving's side as he seeks answers and to fit in.

With the help of an equally headstrong cast, Irving tackles the big questions:

Who built the academy? What's Dean Harmstrike's true agenda? Why is being branded a smudge so very wrong to others on campus? What lurks beneath the library? What happens to each character upon graduation?


I am so thankful that Keith stepped in and offered his perspective. The new summary feels more focused and relevant to the series. This summer, I will begin work on the third book in that series, and I'm excited to see the characters continue to grow and change as they seeks answers to the academy's many mysteries.

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