Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's the story?

So... you meet a writer and after the beginning of the discussion you ask, "What's your book about?"

Two hours later, you still don't know any more than when you started. As a writer, it isn't enough for us to write well. We must also be able to share a short synopsis with our readers if necessary.

It could be a very short description--"I write BDSM ménage with a historical background." Or it could be a little more. "My current story is about a retired female spy who is leading a secret life. When her life is endangered due to an internet hacker, the hero who also a spy must find her and save her life."

In either case, you immediately have an idea about the story. If BDSM is not to your taste, okay. But you aren't floundering along wondering what the story is about. It is our job to describe our story as concisely as possible. After all, when you're exchanging information in a grocery store line, time is of the essence. And yes--almost every time I go to the grocery store, I share information about my books.

I recently met a woman who is a self-described writer. When I asked her what she wrote, she stated a genre. And then I said, "Oh. What is the story about?"

She didn't know. After a while I concluded that there was no story. There might be a scene or two, but this woman has no idea that she needs more. For over an hour, she talked mostly describing various examples of her genre. But every time I asked about her story, she went back to describing her genre.

That's like saying I write fantasy. Or sci-fi. Or romance. What do I write specifically? I write humorous erotic romance stories based on the Arthurian legends. They are part satire, part twisted fairytale cycles based on the adventures of three sisters seeking suitable husbands.

Now at this point, if you as the reader don't like satire, Arthurian legends, fairytales or erotic romance...well at least you've been thoroughly forewarned.

Or I might say I write a series about a secret valley where blue people dwell among strange plants and animals. Their highly sexual culture is a medieval/high technology mix with paranormal elements. Oh, yeah. Outsiders who find their way to the valley can never go back home.

How about you? Can you describe your story in a short paragraph? This isn't a blurb for the back of the book. This is a short description of your story. Here's your chance.

Tell me--What's your story?



Dee Brice said...

As usual, you hit the nail!!!!!

Dee Brice

Paris said...

Oh Anny, I'm so bad at this. But I love a challenge.

My book is about...a woman who didn't know she was a jaguar shapeshifter until she was fourteen, spent ten years looking for shapeshifters only to run into an assassin who tells her as a half human jaguar she's under an automatic death sentence. Did I mention they have sex before he finds out:-)?

jean hart stewart said...

Talk about a wake-up call. I needed that, Anny. I generally just say paranormal romance and get a blank stare. Off I go mentally to get something more descriptive whipped into shape.

Fran Lee's Romance Blog said... write guess you could I erotic writer about other stuff. :)