Thematic Centering

As I’ve probably whined about mentioned, I’ve been working on a thorough revision of the beastly book I swore I’d never rewrite again (I call this draft 8 because actually knowing how many drafts it’s been might make my brain explode.) 😉

Anyway, in this current rewrite I’ve been centering all revision based on a clearer and more definite theme / stated purpose.

Nope, I haven’t invested in a soapbox to preach about all the things you can shout at people about. Instead, for this theme, as I considered my revision, I asked myself a series of questions. The last of these, which found the answer I searched for, was:

“What do you want this book to be? What kind of feeling do you want to leave with your reader?”

And I started off all right with the wanting to leave the happy ending, a good feeling, hopeful, etc. THEN I hit what I was really looking for. It was only in reviewing what I wrote that I found the phrase, and highlighted it. I wrote:

“…find just that one person who understands you, who loves you for exactly who you are despite all your flaws, makes the world complete and creates light in the darkness.”

No, it isn’t as neat or pretty as one might wish a theme to be, like “acceptance” (which was what I thought the theme was originally). But instead, this is the phrase that defines what I want out of the entire relationship between my two protagonists, and which defines their romantic journey. For this book more than others, this is what helps center the story.

And, as it turns out: Me.

As I’ve been revising, with much teeth-gnashing and general whines (internal and external), whenever I’ve gotten lost in the tangle of plot-lines, or lost my way in what it was I wanted to change, and what it was I have to change, and where the two intersect, I look at this phrase. And I remember what it means, and how each scene has to reflect this. Accordingly, I also know what I have to write next.

Which made me curious, and I pose the question to you out there: do you write to a theme / guiding principle of the story? Can you draft to that theme, or do you only highlight things once you get to revision? Come on, share. Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and happy writing out there!

Author: S.C. Chalmers

Shelly Chalmers writes paranormal romances which run the gamut from Regency paranormal to space opera, always with a touch of humor. Find her at