So... what's your story about?
Someone I'd just met at a writers' meeting once asked me this question, and without much thought I enthusiastically started a detailed explanation of the plot with all its twists & turns. After a few minutes my listener excused herself, she really, really had to go somewhere but would catch with me later. She never came back to hear the end of it.
And why should she?
The world is full of stories. Nobody has time for yet another one. Unless you show its purpose, its raison d’être.
I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Next time someone asked me what my story was about, I told them instead about the theme, the essence of it: it's about personal freedom vs commitment, I said. This usually produces further interest & questions, and the opportunity to explain the purpose of my novel, and why I want to write it.
In turn, knowing why I want to write it, keeps me on course, like the road signs on a journey. And if you know where you want to go, you will get there.
What's the theme of your novel?
Has it got a raison d’être?
Do you write with purpose?