Friday, June 3, 2011

What is your book about?

When you tell someone you are writing a book, they say how great it is. The first thing they ask is what is your book about? When someone asks that question, do you know how to answer them? I normally stumbled over my words because I didn't know what I was talking about at all. Pulling the idea into sentences which someone else would understand proved to be difficult. In the end, I replied with a false claim of not knowing all the facts and the complex idea needed to be ironed out.

For a simple question, I answered in a terrible way. This is someone who may become a future reader of my book. They were going to remember me as someone who didn't know what I'm doing. Instead of being honest, I needed to make it sound grand and out of this world so they didn't keep asking more question. I stopped telling my family and friends I planned to write a book because I didn't want to answer that question.

The years passed I became more comfortable with my ideas and working out the storyline. A few weeks ago, my nieces asked the dreaded question and I explained my character's goal. I didn't have to think on what it is about or how to say it in way they would understand. They got it right away and told me they wanted to read my book.

It actually didn't hit me until I started to write this post how much I've grown as a writer. I can explain my novel to someone else and make it simple. I basically pitched my story. It was not a very good pitch and it missed part of the plot, yet I conveyed it to an 8 year old and a 10 year old who want to read my book now. I lost the fear for that question by working on my novel.

Do you fear or love to answer the question?


Ella Gray said...

I kind of dread that question, too. Usually I just answer with the genre I'm writing and leave it at that. I guess I should work on having a short pitch prepared. Maybe I could write it on a card in my wallet and just show it to people when they ask, LOL.

Marilyn Muñiz said...

Great idea Ella!

Melanie said...

Like you, I had a hard time answering the "dreaded question". One reason is because the "book" I was writing was really (still is) a series. How do I communicate a series? How do I single out one work when I am still building the whole world's story?

Now that I have a single story to communicate, I'm finding it a bit easier. Still haven't got the basic story down, but, as with your nieces, I have got positive responses.

Love that it's from kids, for you. They are the best encouragement you can get!

Melanie said...

Oooh, Ella! Make it part of a business card! That way it won't look like business. Maybe even get a few different quotes on cards. Anything to take the sting out of marketing :-)

Tiyana said...

I pretty much had the same experience as you, Marilyn. Eventually I was able to practice writing 2-3 paragraph summaries then pare those down into a one-sentence explanation of what the heck I was working on, lol, but it did take some dedicated thought. (And actually I found this article to be very helpful in breaking down my own story.)

The simplest way I can explain my story (while relaying all the relevant information) is: “An aviatrix with a rare psychophysiological condition discovers herself when a government agent offers her a job.” (And some people might ask more about the aviatrix's condition...and what do you know, I've suddenly got a conversation on my hands. At least, that's the plan, haha.)

Is it perfect? Can’t say, but so far it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with, heh. And even if you’re planning on writing a series (as am I), each book will still have its own complete plot and a major goal that the protagonist(s) needs to achieve. I guess that’s how I look at it. :)

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