Writing a plot summary

A plot summary is a one (max two) sentence stories that somehow describe the gist of your plot. The plot summary tells your readers what to expect, what sort of story it is and who the protagonist is. Preferably it describes the beginning, middle and ending somehow. This represents the core of your story and should be expressible in very few words but compassing many pages.

It should include:

  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What’s his goal?
  • What inner issue is he forced to deal with?
  • Does he stick to his main desire/goal?
  • Do the events affect him? In a believable way?
Plot summary examples:
  • Ink (film): A mysterious creature, know as Ink, steals a child’s soul in hopes of using it as a bargaining chip to join the Incubi – the group of supernatural beings responsible for creating nightmares.
  • Harry Potter 1 (film): Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
  • Hunger Games 1(film): Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
  • LOTR 1(film): A meek hobbit of The Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring and the dark lord Sauron.
  • Dexter (series): A Miami police forensics expert moonlights as a serial killer of criminals who he believes have escaped justice.
  • Suits (series): On the run from a drug deal gone bad, Mike Ross, a brilliant college-dropout, finds himself a job working with Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers.
  • Shawshank Redemption (film): Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
  • Firefly (series): Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.
  • Donnie Darko (film): A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.
  • Monsters Inc (film): Monsters generate their city’s power by scaring children, but they are terribly afraid themselves of being contaminated by children, so when one enters Monstropolis, top scarer Sulley finds his world disrupted.
  • Prison Break (series): Due to a political conspiracy an innocent man is sent to death row and his only hope is his brother who makes it his mission to deliberately get himself sent to the same prison in order to break the both of them out from the inside out.
  • The help (film): An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Cron, L. (2012) Wired for story: the writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence.