I’ve had a thematic epiphany and I’m quite giddy about it. As I typed THE END of the rough draft of the latest book in the Caught series (Caught in Make-Believe), I looked back at the work for things I need to revise. As they say, a good book isn’t written, it’s rewritten. Part of the revision process is to think of the work as a whole and figure out its theme or what the book is really about. Most writers don’t know the theme of a book until it’s done as theme develops from the subconscious.
Caught in Cross Seas, for example. I didn’t set out to write a story about homelessness, substance abuse, and childhood abandonment, but that’s what happened. I thought I was writing a straightforward romantic suspense with lots of murder, mayhem, and romance. You know, fun stuff. But serious issues crept in. The same happened with Caught in the Spin. A romantic suspense story with a gorgeous former bull rider and a feisty single mom turned into a story about domestic abuse, loss, and stepping away from the past in order to have a future. Tangles was intended as a realistic portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease so others wouldn’t be as blindsided by the disease as we were, but in the end, it’s story of love, forgiveness, and redemption…with a strong dose of Alzheimer’s reality. I’ve been told tissues are required.
Back to this thematic epiphany I mentioned earlier. To discover a book’s theme I think about each character. What is their backstory? What do they want? What will keep them from getting it? How do they grow throughout the story? I picked up my copy of “Writing with Quiet Hands” by Paula Munier for more information on what I call thematic discovery. And it hit me like bricks. Caught in Make-Believe, a relationship story which began with my female protagonist breaking her engagement after discovering her fiancé has taken another woman to Las Vegas, has become more. So. Much. More. And believe me, I was quite surprised to realize what has been swimming in my subconscious the past year or so. Sorry. No spoilers.
The morning following the Great Revealing of Theme I walked around in a happy haze. So much so, that a friend asked if I was okay. I thought for a moment and said with a smile. “Yes, I am. Quite good in fact.” I’ve crossed a major writing hurdle and it’s a great feeling.
The task before me now is to revise the manuscript and build on the theme I’ve joyfully discovered. I’ll also work on strengthening sentences, removing overused words, and rewriting where necessary. This is not the chore you may think it is. Writing the rough draft is the hard part. It’s where the world is built, the characters are developed, and the plot is created. A lot of hard work and self-doubt goes on at this point. Revisions and editing are the icing on the cake or, to sound less cliché, the accessories added to take a ho-hum new outfit to stellar.
Caught in Make-Believe (the third book in the Caught series) is now available. If you haven’t read the first two books, the Kindle versions are available at Amazon for only $2.99 each or you can read them for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. Paperbacks are available at both Amazon and Inklings Book Shop in Yakima, Washington. Winter reading season is upon us. Grab a copy and a snuggly blanket and start the series.