Cores

One of the best parts of my job is the two mile walk I get to take.  It's great thinking time. As I walked yesterday, I had a thought about RainyCity!Story.  I realised why I was struggling to really engage with it beyond the initial rush of enthusiasm.

I wasn't sure what the core, the central theme, of the story was.

Even a pantser needs a core.

Thankfully I've got it now.  PHEW! Hooray for daily two mile walks!

And that got me thinking about the book I tried to write last summer only for it to die a horrible death.  What was its core issue? Uuuuuuum...


...Still don't know!

You can and should have multiple themes in a book, but there's got to be something at the heart of it to unite all the threads. 

I think you can overcome writer's block if you know what the central issue of your book is and you can sum it up succinctly.  Essentially, what's the one thing it can all be boiled down to?

Although a lot happens in Space!Story, it's essentially about a girl trying to find her place in the universe.

Resistance, my querying book, is about a girl desperately trying to hold her life together during massive upheaval.

RainyCity!Story is about a girl trying to work out who and what she is.

Holding a story's core in my mind keeps me focused... weeeeeell, as focused as I ever am. But when I know what it is, I don't get lost in the kinds of twisty turns my imagination loves to cook up and I can stop things from getting everything overly complicated.

How about you? Do you know the issue at the core of your story? Does not knowing lead you to struggle like me?

Comments

  1. The question is: should theme be imposed upon a story, or should it come from a story? In other words, should you spend hours and hours trying to think of a good theme for your story, or should you write the story, see what theme develops, and then go back in revisions and bring that theme out more throughout? I tend toward the latter view.

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    1. That's quite a chicken and the egg question!

      Personally, I can go back and add in subplots and expand on theme, but if I don't have a core in that first draft, said first draft will never see completion.

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  2. I know exactly where you're coming from. Sometimes I feel like I have this great idea, but once I get into it I realize, I have no idea what the purpose of this story really is. Why are my characters doing all this? I had that problem big time two weeks ago with my current WIP, and I had to get some serious character interviewing done and a lot more outlining. But it's turned out for the good now! (x Not knowing is like a death sentence to me - but I know how to figure it out. (Most of the time! lol)

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    1. Yes, that's exactly the problem I've had! Glad to hear you've got it figured out too ^_^

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  3. I agree about how important it is to understand what unifies the whole project. The "core" is a good word for it! Closely related and similarly motivating, I find, is the question of what, deep down, you really love about the story. Maybe they're often the same. Maybe they should be...

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    1. That's another really good way to put it, and when I think of it like that, I do love the cores of my books. They're the unifying theme that I'm trying to explore after all ^_^

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  4. When I set out to write a story, I usually have a pretty good idea of what the themes will be, but sometimes those themes change or new ones get added as the plot develops. I think the core of my latest story solidified once I developed my mc's back story and figured out who she was. It just sort of flowed naturally out of that. Glad you figured out the core of your story!

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    1. Knowing who your MC is definitely helps too. RainyCity!Story is coming along better now, like you said, I've developed her backstory a little (in my head anyway hah!)

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  5. I usually have the plot and what I want to see happen to my characters and themes or the core have usually come while I'm working on it. Writing a query for WriteOnCon last year actually helped me figure out the core of the story.

    I tend to have this problem if I want to create a set of characters and a story for a series. Stand alone books I'm fine with but I do struggle for an overall plot that the series leads to. I'll leave it like always and it'll come when it wants to. :)

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    1. Queries can be soooo good for that because you have to boil it all down to the absolute essentials and forget everything else. I understand why some people write the query before they write the book.

      I think I'm developing the patience required for letting things come in their own time.

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  6. I totally know what you mean! I had the ah-ha core moment for my current WIP a month ago, and it was sort of the best thing ever. ;)

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