Theme is, in my opinion, the most important part of writing.
Theme is your argument, your central idea, your subject matter, your tune.
For me it doesn’t matter how well you write, if your theme is boring, if your story is about an afternoon in an apartment, as your hero argues with himself about whether to make dinner for his wife, I’m just not that interested.
Ok, I’ll read two pages, if your prose totally sparkles, but I’ll soon lose interest. Shiny, glistening literary baubles lack substance for me. I want a strong theme.
But, you say, other people may be interested in that apartment story. And you’re right. Theme is personal. Which brings us to the central point of theme, it’s all about choice. What you love, I may hate!
And theme is about genre too. Crime fiction, thrillers, erotic fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, they all embody theme at their core.
And theme is related to commerciality as well. If you write and extend one of the popular modern genres listed above, you are simply more likely to get published. Why is such a cruel trick perpetrated on writers? Because publishing is a commercial enterprise. Publishers want to publish books that people are more likely to buy.
And they have found out, over many years, that books written within the above themes, in the above genres, sell well and then some more.
Literary fiction is almost impossible to get published now. Why? Because a work of literary fiction, exploring the world of your apartment on a rainy afternoon for instance, might sell 1,000 copies in a year, where a crime novel in which a body is found in that apartment on the opening page, could sell 20,000 or more in that year. Which would you publish?
I am in awe of writers who are willing to spend decade after decade emulating the literary giants of their youth, writing the great novel of our generation, in the sure knowledge that it will never be published. Never ever.
Knowing your writing will never be seen by anyone beyond a small circle, yet writing on year after year, takes an extra ordinary Buddha like selflessness.
Bur for all those who retain a desire to get published, think long and hard about your theme. If you truly do write uncannily well, you may pull off that story about an afternoon in an apartment, but if you like genre fiction yourself, and would like to be published this decade, pick a popular theme, please! And extend the theme, make it sing, like that old canary never sang before!
That, for me, is a suitable goal for a 21st century writer.
This post is the third on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed. Here is a link to the previous post in this series, on grabbing your reader’s attention. And here is a link to the next post, on pace, what keeps us reading.
Please leave feedback, make suggestions and engage. This series of posts needs you to get involved to make them fly.
And please sign-up using the secure sign-up button above right to receive notifications in your inbox when post’s are released.
If you would like to discuss this post or for me to review your writing and give brief feedback without charge (page 1 of your MS only please) contact me via the comments below or by email: email@example.com
Here are some links to useful information for writers:
socialmediaisdynamite.com for my blog on using social media to get noticed.
The reality of being published – 2 months after my first book came out all over the UK I wrote this post
The Accessible Author – how the author’s role is changing
Frantic Editing – a post on the editing process my first novel went through in the summer of 2011
And if you are intreested in a Social Media Promotion Services for Authors go here: http://bit.ly/YwsGiB
Finally, a big thank you to all my readers, everyone who comments and everyone who visits. I hope you find this information useful on your journey to getting your writing noticed.
Please reblog, link to, Tweet, post or mention this post. There are links to do that above and mainly below.
Get Your Writing Noticed: Pace – what keeps us reading!–Laurence O’Bryan–No 1 Best-Selling Conspiracy Thriller Author http://bit.ly/QWtsCW