DL Fowler's Blog

What Is Your Journey About?

Posted in Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's War, Ripples, Themes, Transform Your Fiction, Writing by DLFowler on September 14, 2017

My 100th blog post should be special, but whether it is isn’t for me to say. Only you can do that. So here it is. I am launching a series of posts excerpted from my recent book Transform Your Fiction. These posts spill the beans about what makes a story … well what makes a story a story.

Some of what follows in the next seven weekly posts, you’ve heard before. But not the juicy, closely guarded secret parts. The secrets are small and hard to see. You see, many secrets hide in plain sight, camouflaged by the mundane and obscured by myriad tricks and gimmicks that are supposed to engage readers. These secrets are so powerful they can turn you into a master storyteller. You’ll find the first installment below. 

We’ve all been asked the question, “What is your story about?”


For many of us, that simple question twists our brains, as well as our tongues in knots. So I’ve decided to write a series of posts that unpack the answers to make it easier not just for us to describe our stories to others, but to write stories the readers will embrace and enjoy.

One of the reasons we have difficulty coming up with brief, clear answers when asked about our stories is that the question actually has three answers, not just one. Today, we’re talking about the short answer — a story’s theme. Next week we’ll cover the story’s moral dilemma — the choice characters must make between opposing principles. That dilemma drives the Lead’s psychological journey. After that, we’ll look at the physical journey that your Lead character pursues. Once we’ve explored these three views of the story, we’ll dive into a series of posts about merging all three into a captivating story. This is a guaranteed promise, because all of the posts are written and queued up in the WordPress automatic posting feature.

The most effective stories present the Lead character with a universal moral truth that she has yet to attain. Great stories focus on truths that evoke their authors’ deepest passions. The moral focal point should inspire a vision readers can readily embrace.

The moral truth is the story’s theme. Every page should contain a reminder of the theme, because the theme is the heart of the story and the source of conflict that propels readers forward. Depending on the tension needed in a scene, those reminders can be as obvious as a flag raised in front of a building, or as subtle as background music played to set a mood.

Themes can usually be expressed in one word. My friend, Richard A. Heller, wrote an engaging fictional memoir based on his personal experiences, titled Blueprints. His life has been a colorful journey, and he shares many of its emotion-packed highlights. Every page of his book is about one word: belonging. That is the theme of his story.

I find it easier to focus my writing and pitch my stories when I express the main idea of each novel in a single word. The theme becomes a standard for measuring the Lead’s progress as she confronts the story’s moral dilemma — a choice between two opposite and mutually exclusive outcomes. She is not only going somewhere, she is becoming someone as well.

The theme of my suspense novel Ripples is home. Home is the place Amy wants to be. Home is the place Mercedes wants to be far from. Home is what traumatized Bryce as a child. A better home is what Tess believed she and her mother deserved. A good home is something Jacob never gave his family.

The themes of other novels I’ve written include: Lincoln’s Diary, secrets; Lincoln Raw, promises; and my upcoming title, Battlefields of My Soul — A. Lincoln, justice. All of these themes symbolize universal moral truths.

What themes do you read or write about? What is it about those themes that evoke emotions for you? I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment.

One Response

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  1. The Whole Story | DL Fowler's Blog said, on October 26, 2017 at 3:22 PM

    […] What is Your Journey About? […]


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