The same is true when you edit the book. You have to know the one major theme that drives the story in order to know what can be cut or used to move the story forward in order to tighten the story up.
Keep in mind, though, that most books have multiple threads. There may be one overall thread or storyline, but the protagonist is not following one straight line to get to the end. She or he has other things going on in their lives that affect how they move forward. But in the end, it has to come down to that main task or desire or action that is the center of the story.
The smaller threads of the book can be resolved as the book progresses. One or two may not ever reach absolute resolution, whether this is a solo book or one in a series. But the one big thread needs resolution. That's what the book's climax is for. It's that culmination, absolution, voila, the butler did it moment or chapter.
In last month's post I gave you the teaser for my new book, Angel Sometimes:
Angel had a plan: Go home to Oklahoma and ask her mother why she loved her one day, then threw her out like garbage the next. Since her mother was never going to come looking for her, she'd go to her mother. She'd made it as far as Austin. Before finishing the trek home to confront her parents, she needed three things: a high school diploma, a car, and a gun.That teaser tells you what the main thread is. There are other sub-threads going on that move the story, but that big main thread must be tied up. She must pack her G.E.D., put her gun in her purse and get in her car and go confront her parents.
Your readers won't like it if you've teased them the whole way and don't provide the pay-off.
Have you ever read a book that didn't give resolution? Does your work in progress have one major thread that will have to be resolved?
Angel Sometimes, as well as 3 books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series. You can find two of her short stories in the just released anthology, The Corner Café. Her free ezine, Doing It Write, now in its thirteenth year of publication, goes out to subscribers around the globe. You can follow Helen on her blog, Straight From Hel, on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. She is also Partner and Webmistress for Legends In Our Own Minds® and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network’s Editorial Services.