How New Authors Can Keep Their Manuscripts Coherent

In large publishing houses, many manuscripts penned by first-time authors, never make it past the "first reader" who for all practical purposes is a gatekeeper of sorts. This person's job is to weed out manuscripts that do not fit certain established submission criteria. However, many never make it to the editor's desk, simply because they are badly disorganized and downright incoherent.

But even if you are self-publishing, you owe it to yourself as well as your readers to develop a theme. Not only will a theme tell what your book is about, it also serves to hold your book together. Every other element - your chapters, for example - should support your theme. It is what keeps you from rambling all over the place, and if you should stray, it is what can bring you back - if you keep it in front of you.

That's literally, as well as figuratively. I wouldn't begin to write or give a talk without having a developed theme. Have you ever been to a banquet or meeting where the speaker went on and on with a speech that was all over the place, talking about everything under the sun, except the topic the audience was waiting to hear about? Most likely it wasn't because the speaker didn't have a topic, but rather it was because the speaker didn't have or didn't take the time to develop a theme. If you want your story to be just as disjointed -then don't develop a theme for it.

Unlike a working title that may change to something else entirely different or even several times before a manuscript is finished, a theme shouldn't change during the course of your writing. It may become more obvious during the writing process, but I advise writers to spend serious time developing their theme so that they are clear about the message they are trying to convey. If it is not clear to you, how can you write it in such a way that it is clear to your readers?

Unfortunately, you cannot find the answer to why you are writing your story in this article, or in any book for that matter. You cannot even find it in a classroom setting. Books and classes can only serve to help you bring the reason(s) to the surface, but the answer must come from you. How then, do you determine your book's purpose? How can you be certain that it is more than a good story? Your book's purpose is, to a great degree, intertwined with your purpose.

Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the Chicken Soup series suggests meditation, or deep, controlled, concentrated thought. He says, "Relax and tap into your mind, way back there in the deepest,secret compartment of your mind, by asking yourself this question: 'If I knew my life purpose, what would it be?' Don't just ask it once. Keep asking this question until you get the answer. It may not come the first day, or even the first week. But it's there, and it will show its face if you earnestly ask."

Hansen states that this should be repeated every morning and every night for 15 minutes until the answer comes to you, and then write it down. He continues, "Be open to the answer, no matter when it comes to you. Remember, it wants you just as much as you want it."

A good theme does three things: 1) it describes the story or book; 2) it captures the uniqueness of the story or book; 3) it motivates the author. If it accomplishes these three things, it will also make your outline easier to create. In business-speak, an "elevator speech" is a brief description about your company that you should be able to give to someone in the time it would take to ride up an elevator. I hold that everyone writing a book needs an elevator speech, or theme, for it.

Marvin D. Cloud is founder of http://mybestseller.com and author of "Get Off The Pot: How to Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Personal Bestseller in 90 Days."

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


Time to Write

SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?Many people have entertained... Read More

Get An Attitude About Your Writing

(This excerpt is taken from my new writing workshop Writing... Read More

Amazing Ways Writing Articles Can Improve Your Business

How to get a lot of traffic to your website... Read More

Pairs/Groups Of Words Often Confused - Part 4 of 6

LATER, LATTERLater means afterwards; latter is the second of two... Read More

Frequently Asked Questions from Writers

1. What Is A Premise?A premise is the point you... Read More

A Writers Tools

William Faulkner, the great Mississippi writer, said, "The tools I... Read More

3 Quick and Easy Ways to Generate Story Ideas

There are many ways you can generate ideas you can... Read More

How to Outline your Book and Chapters with Mindmapping

Mindmapping is better than linear outlining because authors can use... Read More

How You Can Take Advantage of the Increasing Demand for Freelance Online Writers

The freelance writing market is a growing market to be... Read More

Finish Your Book Already!

I owe the completion and success of my book to... Read More

Apostrophe Usage Made Simple

According to one of my previous articles, whenever a Southerner... Read More

A New Way To Self Publish

More and more good authors are turning to the Internet... Read More

How to Build Your Site with Other Peoples Content -- Part 1

Building a new website can be extremely exciting. Seeing your... Read More

Important Points of Fiction

Fiction manuscripts receive feedback that addresses and scores: The theme... Read More

Think Market!

Griselda spent hours polishing up her resume. No detail was... Read More

Recommendation Letters Demystified

There is a lot of confusion about recommendation letters.Recommendation letters... Read More

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Made By New Childrens Writers

Okay. So I'm not David Letterman. But I doubt if... Read More

10 Tips on How to Cultivate Relationships with Editors

If you are an aspiring writer, or you simply want... Read More

Untrue Father (A short Story)

Kallu was a tenant of Santosh Kumar Nayak. Santosh Kumar... Read More

Writers can Grow to be Comfortable with Criticism

On my first newspaper assignment as a critic, I was... Read More

Making Money from Freelance Writing

Making Money from Freelance WritingIt's the question that every aspiring... Read More

Publisher Ethics For Reprint-able Articles

Let's Discuss Publisher Ethics:If you are an ezine publisher or... Read More

Writing Short Info Reports

People want information, they want it quick, frequently in short... Read More

Writing Technique: The Restaurant Syndrome

Picture this scene.Your hero is sitting in a bar. He's... Read More

Italics Part 1 - Do You Need to Use Italics?

Next time you're tempted to use italics for emphasis... STOP!"Why?"... Read More

Baby Boomers and Booklets ? Share and Share Alike

As one of those fabulous Baby Boomers, you now own... Read More

Review In 29 Steps Plus One

I just finished to read a book. A story for... Read More

Why Book Writers Need A Running Mate

By far, I have found that the lack of discipline... Read More

Do You Know How To Write English For Global Audiences?

When you write for international audiences, mainly directly in English,... Read More

Writing Secrets You Must Know

Writing better is critical for students. But it's even more... Read More

Your Words Will Determine Your Business!

Be careful when you write.Words you use, sentences you phrase... Read More

Freelance Writing: How Many Regular Clients Should You Have?

This is a tough question for every freelance writer. For... Read More

What is Screenwriting?

Simply put, it is the art of writing scripts for... Read More