Monday, December 1, 2014

Finding Those Hidden Themes

I am working through some edits for one of my authors right now and thought I would describe for you what I do believe many authors face. What happens when your story takes off in a direction you just didn't see coming? How do you get it back on track, or put it on a track that might be better?

In this case, we are working on a women's fiction piece. This is the second book in a series and we were working to maintain many of the same themes we saw in the first book. As I read through the story, however, there were moments when the story simply didn't have those thematic messages shining through when the messages should have been there.

This is a tough situation. As I looked at the story, I was starting to think we might be gearing up for a full blown revision of the story. We're talking a complete over-haul here. But I kept reading and it wasn't until yesterday that I stumbled across the hidden gem I was looking for. Roughly 40% of the way through the book, the author had an amazingly powerful moment with some character introspective and she tossed in a line that had it all. It was the title of the book, it was the theme, it was the answer!

Now, as I go back and look at the story, we won't be doing a complete over-haul. The theme of the story did indeed go a different direction than we had planned, but this new theme creates a stronger approach for revision. The plan will be simple:

  1. We cut scenes that were trying too hard to get to the first theme that wasn't work.
  2. We enhance the existing story with the new theme's message.
  3. We add some new scenes to A) get that word count back up; and B) to truly showcase the new theme.
There will be times when we know exactly what story we want to tell and the story just happens. There will also be other times when the plans we had made just aren't going to work. The key to solving these issues is to not panic and keep your eyes open. Sometimes, the answer is right in front of our face. We just were looking in the wrong place.

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