how not to summarize a novel

So the first draft of my novel has been completed for a few weeks. After my first round of edits, it’s currently out gathering feedback before another round of edits followed by walking. It’s been rather interesting discussing my novel with friends, if only because I never really discuss it. Before I ‘splain that, though, some background.

Whenever someone would ask my what my novel’s about, the conversation would inevitably go something like this:

Them: oh, you’re writing a novel? Cool. What’s it about?
Me: It’s about, well, um…yeah…okay, well…um…hmmm…tough question….it’s about this character, see? It’s not so much plot-oriented as character-oriented…
Them: (crickets chirping)

Then I tried being a bit more precise.

Them: Oh, you’re writing a novel? Cool. What’s it about?
Me: It’s about a political activist who becomes disillusioned with his activism.
Them: OK…
Me: The character’s a playwright who hates drama.
(crickets chirping)

Clearly, my attempts to convey my own excitement about my novel weren’t succeeding, which brings me back to not really discussing what my novel is about. See, it's a character study, so to talk about the novel means talking about the character. But I don’t want to spoil the book by revealing the character’s secrets. Catch-22, my friends. Catch-22.

During an IM chat in which the sound of chirping crickets became particularly oppressive, I broke down and wrote a revealing synopsis. I’m still not happy that I had to reveal the character’s name, because the whole Prince-as-a-symbol thing seems, on the surface, to be incredibly pretentious. But that’s the character, and, until I come up with something better, this is the synopsis:

His name is ‽ and he doesn’t care whether people like it or not.

He’s a playwright, yet he hates drama. Of course, whether it’s the failure of past relationships, the unwanted romantic advances of a lonely mathematical genius, on-going conflicts with his parents, the politics of his theatre school, or the ordeal of watching a friend cheat on his girlfriend, he can’t escape it.

He’s a radical activist, enflamed by Dadaist ambitions to chafe against social injustice in all its forms, but increasingly disillusioned by a world that doesn’t change for the better.

‽ is a rebel waiting for a cause worth fighting for – for a drama worth living for – but facing increased isolation as ideals confront reality, art collides with meaninglessness, and the value of friendship is a lesson yet to be learned.

No comments: