Monday, June 16, 2008

Plot and Theme

After twenty years of writing I thought I had pretty well sussed out the intricacies of plot development and theme. So it came as a bit of a shock when I delivered the second book in the Loveday series to my editor to be told the plot was fine but it did not really have a theme.

I believe in learning from my editors and take on board anything that will make the novel stronger and more memorable. But I was puzzled. I had thought the theme of this book was how the family coped with facing financial ruin when their money is lost through a bank’s bad investments. My editor agreed with this but diplomatically suggested that we could lift the story to a new level by expanding aspects of this theme. The original title of the book was The Loveday Legacy and this was changed to The Loveday Fortunes. Suddenly I was inspired to bring in some new twists as I played around with the different meanings of the word fortune as regards both money and fate. Against the backdrop of growing revolution in France, the family struggle to overcome ruin and tensions rise as sacrifices must be made and conflict flourishes as changing fortunes strain a family already buckling with internal rivalry and jealousy.

It was the best advice an editor ever gave me. The following titles of The Loveday Trials and The Loveday Scandals helped me delve into the psychology of the family and their adversaries as one family member was put on trial for murder whilst others in the family faced the trials of new crises that beset them. When some of their actions were causing scandals that could destroy their lives and reputations with dire consequences the destructive force of a scandal tests everyone's integrity and survival. The Loveday Honour, The Loveday Pride and The Loveday Loyalty gave me plenty of ammunition to explore how individuals used these personal traits according to their strengths or weaknesses, and provided dramas created by both the good and the bad sides of these emotions. I love working out the psychology behind a character’s motivation to defend family honour by fighting a duel, or feel honour must be upheld no matter the personal cost, or how pride can be our saving grace or our downfall.

Using a theme in all its diversity can add a deeper dimension to a plot and bring in some surprises and twists that make a novel a real page turner.

To find out more information on the Lovedays or my writing world click here

Kate Tremaayne


Jane Odiwe said...

It's nice to hear that established writers have the same problems as those of us who are starting out! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Melinda Hammond said...

Kate, well done for listening to your editor! I know how hard it is to take criticism of your "baby", when you have worked so hard at it, but like you I am always willing to listen to the editor - after all, they bring a fresh persepctive to it - and sometimes they are even right(vbg!)


kate tremayne said...

Jane and Melinda,
Rather maddeningly editors are only too right, especially when they pick out the very scene you had that niggling doubt about, but managed to convince yourself it did work. When in doubt cut it out was a long and painful lesson to learn.

Anonymous said...

Jane said...

Kate, your blog is a master class in achieving emotional depth and page-turning quality. I've made notes!

kate tremayne said...

Thanks Jane

You've made my day on a morning I was struggling to find inspiration.