What Is the Book About?
“What is the book about?”
I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I have heard this question. Sometimes people want a summary of the plot. Other times they are looking for the genre or a succinct synopsis. Easy question to answer, right? Right.
As the author, maybe because I am specifically a new author, I find the question difficult. How do I condense this story down to a few simple sentences? This story I’ve been writing and tweaking and rewriting for almost a decade. These characters I created from scratch and know like my best friends. Their relationships, their dilemmas, their pains and victories. How do I answer that question?
Then I stumbled upon this photo from the online magazine, “Verily.” I saw it and exclaimed, “That’s it!”
“Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.” (St. John Paul II)
That right there is my book pared down to one sentence. The theme at the heart of Full of Days is the worthiness of love even when sacrifices are necessary for its existence. That truth is the reason I wrote it. Extending from this theme are the additional claims: that love’s worth is essentially increased by those sacrifices and that no authentic love is capable of existing without some sacrifice.
In Full of Days, the protagonists experience this truth in varied ways. Sacrifice of pride and of approval. Sacrifice of comfort and security. Sacrifice of self. The latter is the only means for love to thrive. Do not mistake it for a pretty, romantic notion. It is the depth beneath the romance. It is the struggle beneath the prettiness. Self-sacrifice is the sustenance of love.
And, oh, the rewards! Freedom gained when pride and fear are rejected. Joys and adventures experienced when security is set aside and faith is boldly chosen. Strength built by arising from sorrow. Yes, my beloved characters experience these too.
If there is anything, anything at all, I hope my readers gain from this novel, it is a little less fear of and a little more courage for authentic love.
2 thoughts on “What Is the Book About?”
Very nice. I recommend the book “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder as a tool for coming up with a succinct answer to that question. The book is written for screenwriters, but it translates well into novels. A good formula is: When (the inciting incident) happens, the (hero) must (objective) or else (the stakes). For example, When (a boy from the other side of the tracks enters Katie's life), (she) must (set aside her prejudices) or (lose her chance at love.) That kind of thing. Practice it out loud. If you can't describe your novel well when people ask, (and I've been asked by strangers in the grocery store line) they might lose interest. Good luck!
Thank you! That's a helpful guideline.