Augh! Why are summaries so hard?
So, now that people know that I have written, finished and am having a book published, after their "YAY! That's awesome!" is the question that stops me cold. "So, what's it about?"
And it's not that I don't know what it's about, I just have a hard time gauging just how much the person asking really wants to know. You see, I've been to a lot
of writers' events. I've seen people's eyes glaze over when they very innocently (and a bit n00bishly) ask, "What's it about?" and are then subjected to a 15 minute description of this person's book. I've seen that "Save Me" look so many times. I've given that "Save Me" look so many times. It's not that I didn't want to know and was only being polite (okay, sometimes that's EXACTLY what it is) but there's a difference between "What's it about?" and "Tell me every detail of your latest book, including what influenced it and if there will be sequels."
So, I find myself doing the opposite by giving too little information. I find I'm okay with this usually, but there have been times when people look at me with the "And then what?" look. This look is still preferable to the "Kill Me Now" look, but there has to be a happy medium.
The major problem as I see it, besides that I am overly sensitive to looks people give, is that it is much harder to swiftly articulate the summary of a character based story then a plot based story. Again, not implying that my story has no plot. It's sick with plot, but just not easily explained plot. It's all about the characters and how the plot effects them, defines them and ultimately changes them. That's the part that's hard to describe without glossing over or giving too much away.
So, I could really use your help. I will give you a few options of the answer to the question (hopefully without giving too much of the plot away) and you can tell me which one sounds adequate without glazing over your eyes and causing you to scan for the exits.( Summaries )
Any of those work? A mix perhaps? Want more? Need more? Less?
What do you look for in a summary? What turns you off of a summary? More importantly, please feel free to share any secrets you have about writing them.