One month into the Covid lockdown of 2020, our family decided to get a puppy. (Actually…I decided, convinced my husband, and surprised the kids.) 

Things to know: 

We’d never had a dog before.

I had no idea what I was doing. 

I thought it would be easier than it was. 

Fast forward a couple of months and Sammy, our rambunctious shepherd/cattle dog mix rescue pup was fully embedded in our family. And I was at my wits’ end.  

You might be rolling your eyes at this point if you’ve lived with puppies before. Um, yeah…they are a lot of work.  But I genuinely didn’t know what I’d gotten into. For all of the obsessive reading and researching I’d done before having babies, I did the opposite here.

Fast forward three years, and Sammy is still rambunctious and stubborn, but I love him to pieces. Because I love him and am determined to have a happy, healthy dog, I’m spending a LOT of time undoing some of the training mistakes (a.k.a. the mistake of not training) I made back then.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because not having a plan in place or understanding what we were getting into with him caused a whole lot of problems that are taking a long time to fix.

One of the things that writers really have to know before setting off into writing a novel is what they are trying to say with it. Not just about the characters or the specific circumstances, but about the larger world and the human condition. 

This is how we connect with readers. It’s also the “golden thread” that ties your entire novel together. 

If you don’t take the time to do this at the beginning, it’s likely that your draft will be disjointed and unfocused, and it will take a lot more work to fix down the road.

Remember, there is no “right” way to write a novel…but there are some things that can help. Creating a solid foundation for your novel by knowing what you are trying to say is one of those things.

Let me know in the comments about your experience with identifying themes…or dog training! 


Stephanie (00:06):
Hello Writers. Have you ever been with someone who tells you a story – maybe about something that happened at work or an exchange with their partner? And at the end of it, you thought to yourself, why are you telling me this? Or, have you ever read a book or watched a movie that felt shallow, that you almost forgot about before the last page or the credits even rolled? Of course, there are a number of reasons why this might happen, but in my experience, there’s one part of the story that the storyteller forgot to give the audience. That thing is a larger commentary about the world or the human experience for us to connect to. In other words, they failed to make a point with their story. Another way that this is often talked about in literary circles is the theme of the book. I like to call it the point, though, because it lends itself to the question “what is the point?”, which is a question we can all relate to, whereas the theme of the novel feels a little more amorphous and hard to pin down.

Stephanie (01:09):
A quick note here: of course a novel will touch on many different themes and make many points about many different things, but there should be one overarching point that the story is trying to make, which will ultimately tie all of the scenes together. In this video, I’m going to share two steps to uncover the point of your story or the golden thread that serves as the spine for your story. But before we do that, listen, you’ve waited long enough to become the writer you’ve always wanted to be. I know how life can get in the way, and your personal goal of writing a book can get pushed to the back burner. Believe me, I get it. But I also know that you wanna see the story completed, and I wanna help you. Schedule a free call with me right now. Don’t let your dream stay on the back burner anymore.

Stephanie (01:59):
Click the link below in the description and I’ll talk to you soon. Okay. Step one is to free write everything you think you wanna say about the world or life or the human experience. Without editing yourself at all, here are some questions to get you started. What would you like your reader to reflect on after they put down your book? What will the events of this story teach your protagonist or your main character? What are you trying to say about human nature, the world, relationships, emotions, and/or anything else that humans experience? Keep writing until you’ve exhausted everything you’re trying to say with your book. Step two is to narrow down what you’ve written into one phrase or sentence. You’ll wanna make sure that it has both a subject and a verb. In other words, instead of saying your point is friendship, you might say that your point is friendship can heal even the deepest wounds.

Stephanie (02:58):
So, again, step one is to free write about everything you think you wanna say about the world or about life. Remember, we’re looking at broad statements that your reader can connect to from their own lived experience, rather than something narrow and specific. Then step two is to narrow it down into a single phrase or sentence. I hope it goes without saying, though I’m about to say it anyway. <laugh>, that the point or theme is different than a moral. We’re not trying to hit our readers over the head with a value statement like the old Aesop’s Fables at the end of the story. Rather, the message will be embedded into a well-crafted, richly detailed, flowing piece of writing that entertains while leaving the reader with something to think about. If you’d like to continue receiving writing tips and you know someone who might benefit from this content, please subscribe and share. Thanks. Happy writing.