When potential readers ask “what’s your book about?” they don’t want a plot synopsis. They want to know the book’s deeper significance. Authors need to learn to tell not the story that’s in their books but the story behind their books. It’s a story meant to be told in a minute (the famed and dreaded elevator pitch) or framed as a conversation. It’s meant to encapsulate, in a few words or sentences, the emotion contained in the story.
I’ve been turning this around in my head for weeks since I read it and I remain on the fence. However, I have started to incorporate it when I talk about Coming Darkness, because what can it hurt right?
And so: Coming Darkness is a story about free will and what that means. How life is a series of choices: some big, some small, that define us. Everyone creates a story about themselves that tells them who they are, and that story is played out in choices, in free will. But what happens when something puts your choices, your very existence into question? What is the response: quit, adapt, or flounder? Create a new story or get the tape out and patch the current one?
I realize the reason I’m unsure about this approach is that I feel more comfortable describing the plot than I do describing what I think you should be getting out of it. Just because I mean something doesn’t mean you’ll pick that something up, and/or see it with the same value that I do. What any of us gets out of a book is up to us. Basically, I just want you to enjoy the journey — everything else is gravy.
I added Ms. Kalman’s book to my to-be-read pile based on the plot synopsis. Personally, I’m all about the synopsis. But I’m open. The thing about this journey is that I’m constantly being exposed to new ways of doing things, and I’m constantly learning. That also, is gravy.
Today I’m leaving you with Death Note. An anime series about a boy who finds a Death Note, a book that allows him to kill people at will. He then sets out to make a “perfect world”, a world where he decides who gets to live, and who dies. It’s an interesting take on the age-old desire for utopia — the power to create one, the qualifications of the creators and their methods.
You can find it dubbed in English on Netflix.