Writing … themes

Starting Over's about ... starting over

Over on Spikethecat I’ve been asked about themes in novels. Do I think much about theme? You betcha.

I do weave themes into my books and am always keen to find a way to encapsulate the theme in an interesting way for the first line of the synopsis. ‘Starting Over‘, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, is about starting over. It’s a popular theme for novels, having to begin again after a giant life wobble. To create conflict, Tess is good at starting over because she’s had so much practice – she’s not used to standing her ground and battling through because whenever life overwhelms her, she just moves on. The theme develops, so that the finale depends on Tess finding something that’s worth sticking it out for, fighting for what she wants and not just starting over.

Theme is important to me as knowing what my theme is helps me write with focus, to think, ‘This book is about starting over.’ Then I don’t go waffling off exploring what people will do for money or the relationship between revenge and love. Those are other books.

I’m not aware of readers seeing themes that I didn’t intend but they do sometimes talk about character motivation that hadn’t occurred to me. I find that really interesting. If a reader wants to discuss my characters with me as if they’re real people that we both know, I’m always incredibly flattered.

I think that many readers don’t bother with identifying themes. Not consciously, anyway. But a writer who doesn’t identify their theme is missing an opportunity to write tightly.

Love Writing

If you’d like to win a copy of Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction, turn to page 13 of Writing Magazine, May issue. All you have to do is write a scene in up to 250 words of the first meeting between hero and heroine – and one of them have to be climbing out of a window.

I don’t know who threw in the last requirement but it’s a nice little kicker, isn’t it? It’s certainly got my mind working. It’s a recognised technique that whenever a scene seems stodgy you should roll the dice again by throwing in something quirky and I guess that that’s what’s happened here.

Writing Magazine has run a lovely profile on me, in the same issue, written by the wonderful Margaret James, and run the first part of my article about what use the Internet is to writers, too.

Happy Easter! Hope that it’s not tipping it down with rain, wherever you are. As it is here. Never mind, it’s a Formula 1 weekend so I wouldn’t be going out much, anyway …

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