Hello from novelist Gail Gaymer
Martin at www.gailmartin.com
Recently I attended the Gideon
Film Festival and Media Conference at Ridgecrest and learned many techniques
for writing screenplays. These same points work for fiction as well, and I
believe that many screenwriting techniques can enhance fiction. In the next
five weeks, I will share these points with you.
The first point was: Define
the overall theme or meaning of your work. What will happen and why does it
matter? Why? If your story does not make a difference, if it doesn't matter,
then why write it? How can it serve the reader?
Think first of non-fiction
novels. Can you imagine reading a book that didn’t have a point. A non-fiction
book focuses on a topic or theme, It has a purpose. Fiction is no difference.
Your purpose could be to point out the foibles of the human condition. It could
be to dramatize how a mother’s love can push her to give her life for their
child. A novel can be a story of good verses evil and shows the power of good.
It can show the power of love. It can dramatize that we are not alone, that others
share our fears, worries, or sinfulness.
When a novelist sets down to
write a book, he has an idea. It may begin as people doing things, but if it
doesn’t have direction or purpose, it falls flat. Think of Gone With The Wind
without the backdrop of the Civil War. How long would anyone remember that
As an author of Christian
fiction, my purpose is often focused on a Bible verse that sums up a major idea
in the book. For example, Proverbs 16: 9 reads: In his heart a man plans his
course, but the Lord determines his steps. This book would be about someone who
has made a life plan— a career, a goal, success, fame, an accomplishment—but
things happen, and the character realizes to reach that goal, he may have to
give up something else equally important.
While you might not write
Christian fiction, any genre can be summed up in a sentence that points out
what the major theme or purpose of your novel seems to be—good wins over
evil, love is worth fighting for, a parent will give their life for their child,
lies tangle lives, gossip only begets gossip, beauty is in the eye of the
beholder, and laughter can heal. You can think of many more. These themes work
for a romance, a thriller, a western, or any genre.
I know this works because of
reader mail. Letter after letter reveals how my novel has made a difference in
someone’s life. They tell me what they learned about themselves or about
someone else. They tell me how they found an answer to a question or how they
realize they need to ask questions about their life. They walk away with
something that has made a difference.
When you sit down to write a novel, ask yourself what you want
the reader to take away when she finishes. If you can’t answer the question, this
is the reason your story is not making an impact on an agent or editor. It
might be why a reader enjoys it for the moment and can’t remember the title or
what it was about two days later. Write so that you make an impact on your
readers with a purpose. Create a theme or a message that you want to leave
readers with at the end of your novel, and you will have written a memorable
story that makes a difference.