About Aboutness

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One of my instructors in Professional Writing, Sophie Lees, taught me and the rest of her class the difference between what a story is “about” and what it’s “aboutness” is. Though the two terms may seem interchangeable, they are, in fact, completely different.

You can tell what a story is about by the blurb on the back cover, the synopsis preceding it, the one or two sentence description. In other words, the about is the what of the story: what happens when protagonist meets antagonist and everyone fights and he saves the kingdom and everyone lives happily ever after The End. But the aboutness is a different beast altogether: it’s the why of the story. Not just the hero’s motivation or the villain’s overly complicated plot to overthrow the world. Rather, it’s the whole reason the story exists. It’s the purpose. Why is this story here in the first place? Continue reading “About Aboutness”