Posted in Writing

Theme: That Sticky Thing Some Have Issues With

How do you insert a theme into your story? Well, there are different ways of doing this. Just so you know, how this is done differs from writer to writer. After all, we are all different minded individuals. I tend to do things a little backwards. At least in my mind I do. To start with, theme is a lesson or idea the story teaches and is carried throughout the story. A story can have more than one, so don’t think you can’t go beyond that.

1. Good vs. evil
2. Power of corruption
3. Love
4. Free will
5. Tragedy

Of course, there are many many more. But, how do you incorporated it into your story? I have come to the knowledge over the years that it has much to do with how you write. I am a panster. In other words, I don’t plan. I make the story up as I go along. I know in advance the type of theme I am wanting to work with, so I set out writing my story. As I am writing, the theme is working in the background, a.k.a simmering in my subconscious. It will come to the surface as the story unfolds.

In my latest book The Cross’s Key, when I finished it, I started at the beginning of the book and looked for anything that pertained to the story’s theme and made notations of it. When that was finished, I went back to each notation and decided whether or not the theme was developed enough. If it wasn’t, what did I need to insert in order to develop it more. Was there anything that didn’t make any sense that needed clarification? Did the theme flow with the rest of the story, or was there something out of place that might derail the reader? Trust me, it’s your story, so you will know the answers to these questions at the moment you’re going through it.

If you are a planner and plan your story out before you set to writing that first chapter, then you are going to outline your chosen theme during the planning process. If this is the way you work, what I would do is come up with a theme first. Next, I would write down in a couple of sentences what my book is about (or a general idea anyway). Then go back to your theme and brainstorm various ways that theme could be incorporated into your story.

Whatever way you choose, please note, theme is an integral part of your story. Yes, I know there are many elements to a story that are important, but theme will pull at the reader’s mind and work toward making connections in ways only they will know.

Posted in Fiction

New Information

Photo by Vincent Gerbouin on

I’ve read that, when you get to Act III of writing your novel, you are not supposed to add any new information. But I’ve also read that it’s ok to break the rules of writing if it’s done well. So, do you add new information after Act III or not? I say, if it works use it. Then again, before you use it, run it by some beta readers (those who critique your work before you publish it) and get their feedback first. After all, you don’t want to push your reader fans away by disappointing them.

Posted in Characterization

Character Flaws

What holds you back? What is one of your character traits that works against you more often than you care to admit.

Are you:

  • Stubborn
  • Anxious
  • Naïve
  • Arrogant
  • Selfish
  • Paranoid
  • Gullible

When I was younger, and for many years, I was very naïve. I hadn’t had the experiential knowledge of many things that would have allowed me to make the correct decisions. In other words, I hadn’t learned anything about life. Worse yet, it took me a while to get past that naivety. Some individuals learn life’s lessons quicker because they are willing to rely on new information without letting their own opinions get in the way. Well…I wasn’t one of those people. I had a stubborness to me which made me more headstrong than most. The result is that I didn’t listen to good advice. Because I didn’t listen, I ended up hurt (not physically, but a lesson learned type of thing). It cost me financially at one point. That was one instance. Another example came in the form of a relationship. I became involved with someone I had no business getting involved with. I let my heart guide me and not my common sense and certainly not the advice of others to the contrary.

I should have listened to what others were saying. I should have listened to that conscience of mine. But I didn’t. I truly though I knew better. I learned my lessons in the end, but it took a long time to get to that point. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but it did. The silver lining came when I FINALLY learned. When I learned my lesson, that’s when things started to change for the better. I now knew how to avoid those missteps. I knew what to look for. My story changed and the ending was GREAT.

My character flaws at the beginning were naivety and stubborness. Over the course of my life (or story), I was presented with challenges that created setbacks based on my own behavior (character flaws). In the middle of it all, once I ended up hurt, these instances made me rethink what I was doing. I was able to go back in my mind and go over what wasn’t working, THEN I was better able to correct and attack my issues head on and take them in a more positive direction by changing my behavior. THIS IS THE PATH YOU MUST TAKE YOUR CHARACTERS ON when you are writing you story/novel/book. The character flaw(s) in your main character is a large part of what carries them on their journey throughout the story. If they don’t learn anything by the end of the book, how are they able to overcome the antagonist?

Posted in Writing

Writing Stability

So much goes on during the holidays, and it’s either good, bad, or in between. One year I was rushing around to get all of my Christmas shopping done. It was evening, so it was dark not to mention busy. The traffic standstill gave me a headache, but I had to get things done. I’m sure you can identify. I was in Toys’R’Us, which was crowded to the max, and it was my last stop. Dinner was next, so I was on the homeward stretch. I paid for my purchases, put my things in my car, and went to KFC to pick up my dinner. I was in the drive through waiting to give my order, when I reached for my purse and discovered it wasn’t there. Now, those of you who have discovered your purse or wallet missing while in public, can relate to this. My blood ran cold and my heart stopped. I still had over $400 in it. I got out of line and retraced my “steps”. I went back to Toys’R’Us to the exact parking spot I had just vacated. My cart was there but my purse wasn’t (I burst out into tears). However, there was a car in the spot I had been parked in and the people were still in it (A mom and her teenage daughter). I knocked on their window and inquired about my purse. THEY HAD IT!!!! What luck. They had my purse and were looking at my driver’s license to see whose purse it was. The woman gave me back my purse, and, upon seeing my distress, got out of her car and gave me a big hug.

Sometimes in our writing the story, process, characters and what have you can be just busy with so much “going on”. You can see the story in your head and it’s all coming at you at once. What does one do with such a rush of information that is out of order and disorganized? It almost seems as though you’ll forget this valuable information if you don’t rush to get it down. All I can say is, RELAX. Take the information that is rushing through your head. Do a free write and get it all down on paper or computer screen, then go back and organize it. When you organize it, prioritize it. What piece of information, according to your project, should get more attention? Work from most important to least important.

What do I mean by importance? All of your story elements are important and the importance of each depends on what you are working on each day, so this will change daily. Those of you who like to write by the seat of your pants have your own way of staying organized without planning ahead. Those of you who plan everything out in advance will do just that. Every writer’s process for writing is different, which is why I’m not going into detail here. I will say this though, what I do is keep a binder with dividers. Some sections are identified according what the story is.

In a nutshell don’t let the bombardment of your story fluster you. Take it in. Inhale it. Relax and place the information where you want it.