Can you sum your book up in a sentence, or do you Hmm & Ahh your way through explaining the plot?
If you find yourself struggling to do this, then maybe you need to analyse just what your book is about other than just its genre. All books have a concept at the heart of their story.
When I first started writing I too struggled with this problem. I remember how flustered I became when an agent asked me to sum up my plot. We were in a crowded room and I knew I had only a short time before someone else would have his attention.
How could I sum up the heart of my novel in a nutshell?
It’s fine to ramble on about the different threads of your plot to family and friends because they have time to listen. I found that quite a few online agents and publishers ask for you to explain your novel in a couple of sentences and some up to fifty words. Can you do it?
What I did was work out how I could condense my plot down to four sentences, a paragraph, a page and a three page synopsis. Just in case I was ever asked. It took me quite awhile to work out the just the bare bones of my plot. Knowing what’s at the heart of your novel helps. Is your storyline about relationships, adversity, greed, or any of the other deadly sins?
Your book maybe a crime, horror or a romance, but it’s more than just a genre. The concept of your book is what makes it stand out from the rest. All books in a certain category share a similar storyline. This is the reason why we writers are told when suffering a rejection, that our work was similar to something else they had received.
Take your basic detective fiction, or police procedural. Think about how many books are published every day with a similar storyline and the same set of characters albeit with different names and settings.
Now you will understand why it is important to make your book stand out from the crowd, while keeping it within a recognisable genre.
So next time you’re asked about your novel sum up in a few words like a blurb. Now I’m off to start work on my next novel. I shall keep in mind what’s at the heart of my story so next time I have to sum it up I can do it concisely.
Happy Writing Everyone,
Much Love & Peace.