As a person who is easily distracted, I thought it might be of some use to discuss how writers can lose focus in a manuscript.
The theme that White Rose & Harbourlight Books share is Christianity. It is a necessary part of every book we publish. Harbourlight has a variety of other themes, from mystery/suspense, to chick-lit to Westerns and so on. White Rose also has another theme, romance. For the moment, we’ll concentrate on White Rose and the romantic element.
What is a theme? It is the focus of a story. The story should be permeated with this theme. In White Rose, the story should hone in on the romance, focusing all the reader’s attention into how this couple will get to Happy Ever After.
With that in mind, we come to conflict. Conflict is an important part of the story, but it is not the theme of the story. And herein is where writers sometimes lose focus.
Rather than concentrating on the theme of the story, they switch to the conflict. The conflict can often be so detailed, it overtakes the romance.
The readers of romance aren’t interested in all the gory details of the heroine’s past in which a Great Tragedy consumed her entire life and she lives in the present with it hanging over her head on a daily basis like the sword of Damocles, waiting to plunge into her heart and destroy it forever.
They want romance. They want to know how the hero and heroine iron out the problems between THEM, working around the anticipation, the fears, the worries. Sure, both characters can have a little baggage, and it can even scar them a little in the future. But other than a few sentences, those scars need to recede, to show the character has grown past them.
Changing the focus of the book to a life-altering event of the past, or even the present, when the characters are neither thinking about each other, nor doing something together, means that the romance is in the background…and the conflict is the story.
Focus on the romance, not the conflict. Scars from the past are OK. Dwelling on them for ¾ of the book are not. Take your reader to the romance. Allow conflict to surface, then recede, as the character grows past it and realizes that life isn’t always fair, but good will triumph and a wonderful life can be achieved.