We've all heard the terms 'premise' and 'theme' bandied around.
And if you're anything like me, having to label my story kinda freaks me out.
If I had to do it, I'd say many of my contemporary romances have been stories of second chances.
But there's something more important than figuring out theme while you're actually writing. Answering the all important STORY QUESTION.
So what is a story question?
It's the question that drives a reader to finish the book or watch a movie.
eg. Will Bella and Edward overcome all obstacles to be together?
Will Woody and Buzz save their toy mates and get played with in safety?
Interestingly, the answer to the question isn't often in doubt.
We know Bella and Edward will overcome all obstacles to live HEA.
We know Woody and Buzz will look after their mates and save the day in the process.
But what's important is getting your reader to care about the story question.
And to do this, we need to get our readers to care about our characters.
Both Bella and Edward are fish out of water characters. They don't belong. They're outcasts/strange in their respective worlds. And Edward is 'out' of this world. But Bella's desire for the vampire is strong. She'll let nothing stand in their way of being together and a powerful desire makes a character more compelling.
Along with getting your reader to care about your characters, your reader should be in doubt how your story question will be resolved. (Even though the ultimate outcome is rarely in doubt.)
eg. Though we strongly suspect Bella and Edward will end up together, they face enormous obstacles in getting there. Jacob, the Volturi, Victoria, their families, the list goes on.
So want to write a great story?
-Create a compelling story question.
-Create a character reader's will root for
-And a reason why they'll support that character through to the end.
-Create obstacles, make it look like that character can't obtain what they want.
-Try to answer your story question in an unexpected way.