Drilling for deeper meaning
I hate writing book descriptions. I have a really hard time writing them. However, writing a book description is a great way at discovering what your book is really about.
Yes, I have just spent the past 3-4 months writing the book, but I was focusing on characters—making sure they are well-rounded three-dimensional people who grow and change and learn. I need to make sure that they’re likeable. That readers will connect with them. I spend a lot of time on this. I get to know these people—how they think, how they react, how they speak, what’s important to them, even down to what they notice when they walk into a new place.
I spend a lot of time on my plot as well. I need to make sure it’s got all the ups and downs, twists and turns that a good, exciting plot needs to have to keep readers turning pages. I need to make sure that there are good times and bad. That the conflict is strong, but not overwhelming. And I need to make sure I give readers what my husband calls “gifts” – those moments in a romance when you just sit back and smile and relax, or laugh out loud because what your character is doing or saying is just so wonderful or funny. I work hard to make sure all of this is there in the story.
As I write my books, what I don’t think about is theme—the over-arching, deeper meaning. It’s there, I just don’t think about it. I don’t put it in deliberately. I leave that to my subconscious mind.
All books have this deeper meaning whether we put it in deliberately or not. We all have some deeper idea or concept that we’re inadvertently or subconsciously teaching to readers. Most writers have one theme that is repeated in all of their work—mine is “fish out of water”. In every book I write, there is someone who is out of their element trying to fit in. It’s something that I feel deeply about and have experienced, personally, throughout my life.
But frequently, it’s when I finish my book and start to think about the book’s description, that’s when I realize what the book is really about. Usually, this is discovered bit by bit, piece by piece; a sentence here, an idea there, as I analyze what my characters’ goals really are.
In my upcoming Regency romance, My Lord Ghost, which I’m still editing and getting ready to send out to my beta readers (as soon as I get it back from my editor, those who signed up to beta read will get their copies), I know that my heroine’s goal is help the ghost she discovers when she’s sent to Yorkshire as punishment for being too bold and introducing herself to people, well, men, in particular—okay, to handsome men. Her goal, which she, herself, states in the book, is to help this ghost move on to his greater reward, to heaven. That is what she wants to do. It is her external goal.
Her internal goal is to somehow figure out how to grow and mature so that her father allows her to return to London—at least that’s what she thinks it is. That’s what I had in mind as I wrote the book. However, after I finished writing and started trying to write my book description I realized what really happens to her. In one inadvertent sentence, I summarized her entire journey: Laia grows from a young woman concerned only with her own pleasures (meeting handsome men and flirting with them) to someone concerned with the happiness of another (the ghost).
There it was. The summary of the entire book! She grows from being self-centered to thinking of someone else. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But I didn’t see it! And the amazing thing is that it’s the theme of the entire book because the same can be said of my hero.
When I dug into him and what he really wanted and how he grew in the story, I realized his growth was exactly the same as hers! He too grows from someone who is thinking only of himself (in his case it’s his grief and despair caused by horrific events in his recent past) to someone who begins to think and care about someone else (the heroine).
I didn’t do that on purpose! I didn’t even know it was there. I was so focused on writing my story, on making sure my characters grew and were likeable, I never even saw that there was a deeper meaning there; a deeper story. It’s only when I needed to summarize the book for the description that I discovered this.
So here it is… the book description for My Lord Ghost:
She only wanted to save his soul. He needed to save her life.
Irrepressible Laia Grace, raised far from proper Regency society, is delighting in being amidst the ton. But when she naively falls foul of a notorious gossip, her father decides that she needs to grow up – and banishes her from society. If only he knew that he was sending her into much greater danger – and not from the ghost that is rumored to be in residence at the country manor!
Marcus, Lord Bolingbrook, is haunting his own home. Hidden in the secret passages and priest holes of the mansion, he is trying to cope with the tragedies in his past. But his gloom is dispelled by the unexpected arrival of a bright and enchanting companion, and his chivalry revived by the urgent need to rescue her from peril.
Will he risk his life – and his heart – to save her?
As soon as I have a firm publication date, I will be sure to share it with you—it’ll probably be around mid-September.