The Deeper Why
As you all know, I’ve been taking a book coaching course with a company called Author Accelerator. It’s been fantastic! This dog has learned some new tricks! lol! I love learning new ways of looking at writing, at craft, at editing.
One thing that we’re taught, in fact, the first thing we are taught to look for in a story concept or manuscript is the “deeper why.”
This is such a neat idea. Why are you writing this book? What is the deeper meaning underlying your story? And why you? What makes you uniquely qualified to write this story?
No matter what you write—whether it is romance, mystery, fantasy, or memoir there is (or should be) a deeper meaning to your story. Some people call it the theme. It’s the deeper message you want to get across—and there is no better way to give a message and have it be well-received than through story (see Lisa Cron’s work for verification of this).
So, what is it that you are trying to say? What is it that you want to leave readers with when they finish reading your story beyond the bitter-sweet sadness that they’d wished the book were longer because they’re going to miss being with your characters?
As you all know, I’ve been struggling to write the last story in the 1807 season of the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society series. It’s been a really hard book because it is about a woman who is sexually attacked and then blamed for it–#metoo. I have been struggling with this dark story intertwined with what is supposed to be a light and frothy romance. What I want readers to come away with once they’re done reading the book is that happy feeling one gets from seeing two people you care about finally realize their love and commit to each other. I thought I knew what my characters’ GMCs were, but then I started diving into this deeper why.
Why was I actually writing this story? Why was it so important that I do so? Why am I uniquely qualified to write it?
What I realized was that it wasn’t for my heroine’s reputation that she was fighting these horrid rumors, it was for respect. The desire for respect is a powerful one and something we can all relate to. It’s something I know I feel deeply about—which makes me well qualified to write the story.
Now I knew the deeper why: Elizabeth, my heroine, wants to be respected. Now I can look at the story and see the truth behind it and know where I need to focus my energy—on making it clear that this is what Elizabeth wants. Now I understand that the rumors being spread about her not only destroy her reputation but the respect those in society hold for her. Now I can be sure that everything she does shows how important respect is to her, all that she does shows that she is, in fact, respected by those who matter. The reason why she falls in love with the hero is not only because he is wonderful, handsome, and kind, but because he treats her with the respect she needs. Now I have true motivation and understanding of my story.
When you learn what this “deeper why” is your story comes together so much more easily. Yes, you still need to keep your characters GMCs in mind and make that the point of the story—the driving force, but now you know where you’re going with those goals, why they’re there. It’s also much easier to write your book description, which every writer struggles with Put that deeper meaning in there—subtly. And finally, you will know why you are writing this story because that deeper meaning will be something that is important to you, that touches you more deeply and that is where your story really lies—in your own heart.