PAULA!!! and Themes

First of all, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Paula Graves, who sold her first book to Intrigue yesterday!!

Secondly, I know it's not PC, but can I just say, OMG.

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Now, themes. I know what you’re thinking – Mary is in Back to School mode. The word “theme” is so intimidating. But I believe all our stories have them, whether we’re aware of them or not. And if we can find that theme and build on it, we have a stronger book.

When I first started writing, most of my books had the theme of responsibility. The hero or heroine had to do something they didn’t want to do out of responsibility, usually to a family member, sometimes because of society.

That changed a bit over time, and now my characters mostly have to overcome something in their past, the death of a child, a screw up of a major mission, a failed marriage.

When I’m reading, I usually choose books about redemption, which is, I guess, what my new theme is.

Do you have a theme that appears over and over in your work?

14 comments:

Michelle said...

Congrats to Paula!

As for themes, I like redemption stories and reunion stories. :)

mary beth said...

I write redemption too. PC or not, yum!

Trish Milburn said...

For a long time, I wasn't conscious of themes in my work, but there's a lot of "beating the odds" there. Overcoming bad home lives, great tragedies, etc., to have happy, successful lives.

MaryF said...

Ooh, I like beating the odds stories, too.

Delores Fossen swears that themes have made her stories more cohesive. I think you always have a theme, you just need to be aware of it.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

That's an interesting question. I hadn't really thought about. I guess the book I'm working on right now, is the heroine feeling comfortable in her own skin and identity and not letting the world define her. I have another book that I'm working on that deals with redemption from the past.

Anonymous said...

First of all, let me just say...Gerrraaarrrddddd! ::banging top of table with fist:: OMG! I think I see Damien, my current hero. :) You are SO good, Mar. The new book is tentatively entitled Guardian of the Night, btw.

Themes...I think the theme I see most often in my work is freedom...for my characters to be themselves, to be what they were called to be, to follow their dreams. In my last book, the theme was freedom to be yourself, as yourself, without exception. In this current book, it's the freedom to love, despite obstacles. But there's also a good chunk of freedom to be yourself, too. I think I see a lot of that in my own life, and it comes out in my work. Good points, Mar. I think theme is so important, in any book...without it, the focus can be lost and the book meanders around looking for a reason to exist. Hmm. I think I've read a few of those... They're never in my keepers stack, either.

Congrats to Paula!

JoAnn

MaryF said...

JoAnn, I've been waiting ALL DAY for you to see this. Glad you liked.

Freedom to be themselves - I certainly see that in Selene. Good idea.

Elizabeth, I'm sure your themes are there, you just have to look closer. I remember when I first heard people talking about authors having a theme, I looked at my work to that point and thought, wow! I never even thought about it, but there it was.

Cross your fingers for me - I sent out 4 queries on Hot Shot today. If I get nibbles, I have to beef it up about 40 pp, which won't be too hard, I don't think.

Right now I'm mostly mad because I just got back from the grocery store (yes, again) and I forgot to buy my regular poor-me-had-to-go-to-grocery-store Caramello. Rats.

Anonymous said...

Go queries! Go queries!

And if that doesn't work out the way you want...

Go 40 pages! Go 40 pages!

Either way, you're a winner, Mar.

JoAnn

MaryF said...

Thanks, JoAnn.

Amie Stuart said...

Congrats to paula!!!

Good luck with the queries!!!!!

Themes...definitely and when I figured out what it was (LOL) i decided to make it the focus of my chick lit -shaking head.

MaryF said...

Thanks, Cece!

Nikki said...

I don't think I have themes... unless getting the hero naked and having hot sex with him counts as a theme. Does it? :)

And great Gerard photo. I like how it's lifesize so I can print it out and paste it to my pillow!

MaryF said...

LOL, Nikki - there's bound to be a theme there somewhere.....

Amie Stuart said...

Nikki works for meeeeeeeeeee =)

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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