WARNING: The New Year always brings out the philosopher in me.
From my Mission Statement 2.0:
To leverage my background in science, engineering, politics and life, to create compelling stories and characters that pose moral questions to young readers and make them think.
You’ve probably heard there are only 7 basic plots (or 36). I’ve also heard that each author only has two or three stories to tell – which I found fascinating and vaguely insulting. What? But I have thousands of stories bubbling inside me!
Or do I?
My stories have themes that resonate with me and seem to be driven by my life experience – girls and boys finding their places in the world and making morally complex choices where there are seldom white or black choices.
An excerpt from Byrne Risk, where a young geneticist is on the run from the Peace Police to save her clone caretaker:
really thought about the price when they had taken the risk to run or when she
had stolen the hat to distract the guard. She simply acted, because there was
no time to think and getting caught meant death for Giver. But there was sure
to be a price. Her dream of going to GenTech was probably gone regardless, and
if they were caught, they would all be sent to jail—well, her and the
smugglers, at least. Duncan was too young. But there really was no other
choice—it was Eripan or death for Giver.But
Grandma Jane had a choice. Why did she risk so much to help them?How
do you know, Kate tapped out, if doing the right thing is
worth the price?Grandma
Jane appraised her for a moment, then focused on the screen. You should
ask, ‘What is the price if I don’t do the right thing?’Kate
nodded. She knew the cost if they hadn’t run.
This self-awareness of why you write can improve your stories. Rather than saying “I write mysteries” or “I write about paranormal creatures,” you can be more intentional in your storytelling. When you are clear about what you are writing and why, your stories will connect more strongly with readers. (This also shows up in query letters and other bite-sized summaries of your story – what is it about?)
You may have to write a few novels before you see your common theme. And it’s not necessary to know it before you start – I’ve pantsed my way through several stories and only discovered the theme near the end of the first draft. But your Mission Statement isn’t a static idea or a fait accompli – it is a mission you are embarking on, a voyage of discovery through your craft and your writing journey, where you will find many things.
Not least, yourself and why you write.