20 March 2012

What Is Your Book About?

writing, what's your book about,
This funny comic is by Drew and Natalie. Click here for more.
  Last week, after I finished my...novel...I posted on Facebook about finishing my book.

And then came the question. A question I hadn't realized I didn't want to be asked -

What is your book about?

It's an inevitable question. Right? As a writer, I should expect that question. But the second I answered it, I felt like I was 9 years old around a bunch of adults describing what adventure my dolls and I were playing.  Maybe it's because I am writing a fantasy and I'm describing a world I really did create all on my own much like I did when I was little. Maybe it's because the writer in me isn't entirely sure of herself yet. Maybe it's because my book isn't quite completed as it should be.

That all may be the case. I do know that my book needs work. It is still a first draft, of course. In fact, over the weekend I finally "named" the world (I call it...Astralis. And yes, I do feel quite goddess like at the moment).  And I even gave it a more elaborate history. After I complete my notes on the world, I will begin work on the actual editing.  But for right now, I am familiarizing myself with the world I created and strengthening it.

So, back to that...question. How do I answer that question? How do I answer people when they want to know what my book is about?

For right now, here's what I say:

In a world where the gifted have become the hunted, where those with great power have been silenced, where the portals to other worlds have been closed under threat of destruction, and the Faceless Woman fights to break free from the prison that holds her, the only one that can save this world possesses the same dark powers as the one who nearly destroyed them all. 

Alright, so it's still a work in progress and I'm pretty sure that my sentence is a run-on, but tell me, am I the only one a little timid around the question, "What is your book about?"


  1. Yes, I always feel a bit weird and awkward answering this question, same as when people ask what I do. Maybe I should take the advice in your header up there. I mean, part of me does want to share it as I'm proud of what I do, but somehow talking about it feels iffy, especially with someone I've only just met.

    Yours is a good answer, though. People would surely be impressed if you said that out loud!

  2. I'm the same way! I write in contemporary fantasy. Not only is my book complicated to explain in five-hundred words or less, but the genre itself is something most people are completely unfamiliar with! It sounds like you've come up with a pretty quick snippet to share, though. Maybe I should do the same!

  3. I've stopped telling friends and family about my writing because I dread that part. I want to say, "You know what, buy a copy and read it! Then you'll know what it's about."


  4. You are too funny! But yes, it is an intimidating question. I must say that I LOVE the name of your world and your description of the novel is awesome. Can't wait to read it :)

  5. Your book sounds good. It's getting there then.

    Mine...hmmm. Lila is an 18 yr. old medium/psychic who never pays any attention to what her own intuition and dead Gram guide her to do. Well, only in the begining because she's horrorified of her own mother who pushes her to marry the biggest creep in the world. After, she decides to escape out a diner's bathroom window still in her wedding gown into the Florida woods. This begins a wild and scary journey of lessons in trusting herself.

  6. I generally don't have this problem, only because I start with the elevator pitch and develop the story from there. After I finish the novel I come back to the pitch and make any changes that are needed and polish it up a bit.

    Might I suggest that you trim that pitch down a bit. That first sentence is a mouthfull. You really want to hit target with something fast and powerful.

  7. Thanks Nick! I want to get to the point where I'm okay saying it outloud without holding my breath until they ask, "Are you published yet?" (or worse, if I'm talking about a draft), "Can I read it?" I'd love to be able to memorize what tag line is and say that to people! That would feel so gutsy!!

  8. Thanks Mary!! It actually took me longer than I thought to think up that kind of snippet. And fantasy is VERY hard to summarize, because if you created the world for your readers, you have to have some sort of explanation of how its different. At least that's how I feel. Right now, I feel like I have to give this "please don't ask anymore about it" shrug while saying, "Well, it's a fantasy, so..." I'm hoping that will excuse it for some. :)

  9. Me too Diane!!! I'm DYING to say that instead of struggling to really figure out what the heck my book is about. "Oh, look, I happen to have a copy of my novel in my purse." Heeheehehee....

  10. Thanks Samantha!! That does really mean a lot to hear someone say that! :) I like the name of my world too...very mistifying and exotic sounding! :)

  11. Shelly I think your book sounds good!! It actually made me want to laugh (already! That's a good sign!) I can just imagine the scene where she's climbing out the window in her gown.

  12. Wow you are very lucky Randy! A lot of times my book or story evolves so much that my initial idea of what it was has changed. And like I said, I do know that my tag line needs work. :) Still a work in progress!

  13. No! You are most definitely not the only one! My writing is mostly literary, focusing on the inner journey and there is not too much by way of action. Not easy to explain or define to "outsiders."

  14. The problem is, we write a whole book about our ideas, so it's bound to be difficult to say the same thing in a couple of sentences.

  15. Yes, it can take you off guard for a minute. The wheels in one's brain turns and hopes to spit out the best answer. I usually try to sum up the whole book like I would pitch a movie script; in about 3 sentences or less. If the person is interested, I might throw in another detail or so. But basically, it would be like the blurb you would put on the back of your book. That is usually what I do. But yes, I can see where sometimes we all get to feeling like the little kid telling their story and hoping no one is judging it and hopefully are interested in reading it. Take care, Nicole.

  16. yuck... I HATE being asked this question, especially when my family only takes interest in my writing once in a blue moon... I never have an answer. Usually I suck when it comes to pitching what I write, as if I can't even put a sentence together. sometimes I feel like I'm better off writing out a synposis and carrying it in my pocket for anyone who asks to read, lol

  17. I totally understand you. I hate the question too but I've long since learned to answer it. I came up with three sentences that describe my novel and when asked I recite them like an Easter speech. And done.


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