The summer before last I attended a Colorado Romance Writers mini-con put on by Kara Lennox. It was an incredibly invaluable day. So I was thrilled to find some of what she taught us at one of my favorite blogs, Writers in the Storm. Sometimes you know there is something wrong with your manuscript, but you aren’t sure what. Kara’s plot-fixers help you identify the ten main problems writers encounter.
Take for instance, lesson ten on Loss of Focus. This lesson not only covers when you are drifting away, but why. You need to figure out your theme.
“A theme is a “universal truth,” though it doesn’t have to be “true” for everyone, and you don’t have to believe it. It just has to be true for this book.”
Themes are tough, I’m not sure I even know my theme when I start outlining a book, it’s only after I have figured out why both my characters get together that a theme starts to gel. But then to stay with it throughout the book? That’s a tough one. I try to focus on a theme of growth through love of another person. To me true romance is finding that person who forces you to grow, even if you don’t want to!
Let’s say your heroine is afraid of heights. You could write about a hero who is kind and understanding, unlike her bullying parents who forced her to go rock climbing. That hero would be a nice guy, but he wouldn’t support my theme of growth. Now the hero who helps her confront her fear and have a successful rock climbing trip would be more my kind of hero. Of course since I write more suspenseful books it would likely be rock climbing in the rain to get away from the villain!
But you get the picture.
Theme can be book specific or you can always write the same theme. When you have the same theme running throughout your books that contributes to your voice and to forming a solid brand. That is the goal: to find your voice, identify your personal theme, and make sure that theme runs under each book. When you’ve done that, you’ll know you are well on your way. But it starts with just one book.
For example, in Little Red Riding Wolf, Red is searching for independence from her family and pack. So independence might be the book’s theme, but throughout the book Evan is supporting her in her attempts at independence, so that hits on my personal theme of growth through love. She wouldn’t separate from her family if she didn’t have his support.
What is the theme of the book you are currently reading or writing? Does the author have that theme throughout their writing? Do you as an author have an overall personal theme that runs through all of your books?
Want to start with Kara’s Lesson One? Click HERE to learn about why your premise is not compelling.
I’m on a promotional blog tour this week, so don’t forget to drop by Romance and Beyond, where I blogged last week about love and icecream and then on Wednesday hop on over to Sherry Isaac‘s Sizzling site for a Wildflower blog.