London, UK

Want to know a secret about story themes?

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Why is a theme important?

The theme of your writing gives an anchor to your story. One of my top tips for choosing a theme is to find common ground between you and the reader. We love to read stories where we can relate and connect to what the characters are going through. A story gives us hope that its possible to fall in love, find courage to walk away from something that’s not right for us or run head first into a new direction. Even if we are not quite there yet, it’s something we secretly aspire to and don’t want to tell anyone else… speaking of secrets. This is the theme of my new novel.

What inspired the theme of my new book?

Well, secrets are sneaky little suckers. Every person at any one time is carrying at least ten of them. Comforting at first, isn’t it? Knowing we are all in the same boat. Then it slowly dawned on me that like boats, secrets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are harmless fun. You know the ones I mean. You don’t really like your Mother in law’s cooking, you think your boss is an ass hole etc. It’s the ticking time bombs that are more concerning. I have accumulated a mixture over the years, as have you dear reader.

Why do we collect secrets? Interesting question. There seems to be a lot of theories out there on this, just ask Google. One thing they all deem to agree on is the only good that comes out of them is when they are shared.

Where do they come from? Life my friends. Some are given to us and we take the bait. Secrets are addictive, whispering temptation. They give instant gratification, call it the secret buzz. It brings us closer to the giver, we promise to keep it safe, though that temptation to share with one other person lingers away till one day oops, Sally knows, And Sally is so thrilled to be part of the secret club, that you feel good about yourself for telling her. Never mind that this brings the sordid affair between your colleague and your boss closer to the surface. Then there’s the secrets that we keep. The temporary plasters we can slap on anything, the stuff we are ashamed of, or messy decisions we would rather avoid the consequences of.  These can form a big chunk of those ticking time bombs. We carry them around with us, they whisper to us not to tell a soul. These to me are the most dangerous kinds of secret. They promise to keep you safe. The truth is they keep you hostage. You become locked into a narrative that sees no happy ending of the secret being revealed. This is the lie of the secret, the longer you keep it the harder it becomes to share.

An eating disorder is a nasty secret many people keep, as are drug addictions or being stuck in an abusive relationship. The secret becomes a part of our identity to the point we don’t even know who we are without it.  We keep the ticking time bomb as we are scared of what will happen if we let it go off. It takes great courage to demolish this kind of secret. If anyone reading is carrying such a secret, I have something to share with you.

I had a ticking time bomb type secret. I kept it for around ten years before I told anyone. The secret caused me a lot of pain. I eventually found a special girl I could share it with. I cried when I told it, unbolting years of locked up tears. It took a few glasses of wine, though what I woke with was not a hang-over, it was a make-over. Sharing the secret bought me many gifts, a strong connection with the friend I shared it with, an internal release and strides towards becoming a far stronger person. What I realise it that if you can share your worse secret, even if it’s with a total stranger, you really can do anything and that is at the heart of what inspired my chosen theme. To encourage readers that if a secret is weighing heavy on your heart, to find the courage to let it out and let it go.