Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Does It Support Your Thesis Or Your Topic

I often read stories that seem to be flowing along really well, and then, for some strange reason, the author dives into some other plot line, or inserts a scene that seems completely out of place. It isn't that the idea doesn't work with some part of the story, or some element of the character, but it is just not right. This is something that a lot of authors face.

The issue itself is something that relates to an idea I push in composition classes. Does this material you want to include in your story support your thesis or your topic. In the case of fiction, that thesis is the theme and the goal of your writing. What is it that you want your reader to get out of the story?

When you determine this, you have to focus in on the central story arc. We're talking about that main line that everything is revolving around. In the case of a romance, it would be the building relationship between the hero and the heroine. Now, when you add scenes and plot elements to your story, all of those items need to support that central story arc. Although the item might relate to a character, or it might relate to the scene, if it doesn't do anything to enhance that storyline, you end up distracting your reader.

One of my writers had a project we were looking at that did just that. It was a contemporary romance and the two characters had some problems in the past that related to their families. For them to proceed with the romance, they had to come to some sort of resolution with this past. That part is fine. But then she added a scene with an ex-wife that was trying to blackmail some money out of the heroine. Apparently she was part of the problem in the past. In this case, the story was now sidetracked. Readers had to now shift focus to deal with this distraction.

In the end, we took the scene out. The story flowed much better and we were able to keep things focused on the goal of the story.

Sometimes, it is really hard to see these scenes as you are writing a story. At the time it seemed good. This will happen. But, it is crucial, every now and then, to read your story as an outsider. You have to look at it, not as a writer, but as a reader.

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