K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the award-winning and internationally-published author of Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. She writes historical and speculative fiction and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.
K.M. just released her latest book on craft, Writing Your Story’s Theme. Here she discusses the book and the advice she has for new writers working to perfect their skills.
1. Talk a little about Writing Your Story’s Theme. What motivated you to write it and what do you hope authors will gain from it?
In contemplating what writing-craft book I wanted to publish next, I felt like theme was the obvious expansion and next step from the books I’ve already shared on story structure and character arcs. Theme is so inherent in both these subjects and is, in fact, actualized through a proper use of both, and yet it isn’t often drawn to the forefront and discussed in a concrete and practicable way.
2. Theme is the very essence of any story, yet you believe authors too often view it as more of an afterthought. Why do you think this is so?
Foundationally, I believe it is because theme is inherently such an abstract concept. As a result, we have something of a tradition in which writing instructors and masters guide us to avoid consciously implementing theme because they don’t have a clear understanding of how theme emerges within stories. It seems a very nebulous, almost numinous, process. And it is. But story theory has given us clear approaches to both story structure and character arc—and within this process of harmonizing plot and character, we can see how theme itself emerges in a holistic and resonant way. It remains numinous, but becomes less nebulous.
3. You’ve created a number of guides to help authors improve their writing. Where does Writing Your Story’s Theme fit in among the others?
As I said, I feel like it is a natural sequel to the previous guides. I hope it stands alone, but because it builds upon the principles and terms I discuss in Structuring Your Novel and especially Creating Character Arcs, it would be my recommendation to start with those books. They lead right into Writing Your Story’s Theme. (And if you’re only going to read one of the books, I recommend Creating Character Arcs. Once you’re creating solid character arcs, then you’re almost certainly going to be creating solid story structure and theme as well.) Continue reading