“E” is for I’m EXCITED to start off another round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog!


Sarah poses the following question to kick off this month’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog:

Does each book/story you write have an overarching theme, and if so, do you think of it ahead of time or discover it after?

GREAT question, Sarah!

Well, it’s hard to develop a concept without a main point. On the other hand, I don’t start the creative process with a theme in mind. For instance, I don’t say, “Okay, I’m going to write a novel about Giant Purple People Eaters.” Instead, I generally get a flash of a character in a certain situation and then I figure out his or her journey from there.

Easy peasy, right?

I wish.

Back in the day, I’d pants my way from A to Z. After six novels (yes, SIX), the whole three act plot structure clicked. I had to turn my non-existent plots into, well, something. Sooooo, I started outlining. Lemme tell you, that elusive overarching theme quickly became evident.

So, to answer the question, I uncover the overarching theme as I go. BUT I find it much earlier in the process than I used to since I started outlining.

Check back next Wednesday for Lydia’s take on Sarah’s thought-provoking question!

Every Wednesday

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16 comments on ““E” is for I’m EXCITED to start off another round of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog!

  1. Sarah says:

    Ah, that’s a good point–with practice and organization, you find your theme earlier! I like how you integrated it into the A to Z challenge, Laura!

  2. Cheree Smith says:

    Good points. I’m like you. I write and then the theme appears as I go.

  3. Ciara Knight says:

    After major rewrites on two books because of poor planning on my part, I now plot. 🙂

  4. Lydia K says:

    You did the A-Z and your Sisterhood post? That’s multitasking awesomeness.

    This is such a great question. I’d like to see that Purple People Eater book someday. Maybe MG?

  5. A Lockwood says:

    I get the impression that a lot of people move gradually from pantsing to outlining. That’s been a familiar journey for me. I think we eventually get tired of writing first drafts that are all over the place and realize that figuring out a sensible order of events from the start is more efficient.

  6. I think I usually find the theme early on and then the struggle is to not let the theme take over the story. I don’t want to be preachy and I’m not necessarily trying to teach anyone anything, but theme is important to me.

  7. Talli Roland says:

    I usually need to figure out the major turning points before I start writing so I have something to work towards.

  8. vixter2010 says:

    It’s good to have a theme in mind but sometimes it takes longer to discover it fully and that involves rewrites and editing, I’d love to be able to plot the whole thing in my head straight away but may not be there for a good while yet 🙂

  9. Linda Gray says:

    The overarching theme changes over the time of writing, I find. Reason? Because I, too, start out with a character in a certain situation and follow her/his journey, and then when the story develops more fully around that, I see it from a broader perspective. Instead of seeing it all from her/his pov, it becomes more about the larger context and how that affects not only the protagonist but the storyline.

  10. Christine Fonseca says:

    I am a plotter and tend to write “thinking” stories – so yeah, definitely an overarching theme!

  11. I, too, usually have my plot in mind when I start a novel. I just have to focus on it as I go along, because if I don’t, then I bog and slow down the plot with too many details. That is the downside of being a fly at the seat of your pants kind of guy.

  12. I love this question, and it’s so funny you included it in your A – Z series. Multitasking, indeed! :up:

  13. Lynda Young says:

    Outlining is so win. I used to wing it, but no more

  14. K.V. Briar says:

    Theme is definately one of those things that I dwell on when first writing a story. Sometimes it comes to me much easier than others, and I too am a fan of the three act structure (yay outlines!) and find it helps with theme. Great post 🙂

  15. Trisha says:

    I’m wondering if my novels all have overarching themes. If they do, it was an accident LOL

  16. I’m the same as Christine (can I just cut and paste her answer?) 🙂

    Before I start planning the outline, I know what my overarching theme is, though sometimes it does change slightly as my outline takes shape.

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