Tag Archives: Genre

Themes in Novel Writing ~ 6 ~ Themes to Craft an Alternative Mystery Genre Novel

Keeping up the tension in a novel ~

Typical crime mysteries

In a murder mystery themes of death, fear, hatred, evil, crime and a multitude of equally negative themes keep up the tension in a novel.

Of course, with a missing person theme, or in the case of my latest novel missing people, all of the above themes could be relevant, but they could also include kidnapping, capture, ransom, abduction and hijacking, to name but a few. The tension could be enhanced by the place which is the ‘prison’ and the dramatic way they are being held. We’ve all seen the movies.

Here’s another good post on themes in mystery novels which traces recent changes in the genre:

fmwriters.com ~ a murderous act

Thinking outside the box  v Reader Expectations

In a title like ‘MISSING’ all of the above could have been used equally to evoke drama, but that wasn’t how I planned to develop MISSING Past and Present. Gerald, Dot’s husband disappeared. He chose to leave, so what causes the tension?

Themes such as betrayal, abandonment, devastation or mental health issues for example a total break-down leading to destitution, poverty and homelessness. All of these things in fact.

Thinking ‘outside the box’ in a mystery is a risk. As one of the police in the novel said at one point in the investigation, ‘We don’t even know if a crime has been committed.’

This is not necessarily what the reader is expecting, but did it pay off?

Here are a couple of reader’s comments on reviews:

Derik Birk’s ***** review ~  An intriguing and addictive tale

“Most books I read are full of violent action but though there is very little such action in this book, I really liked this story of a woman re-inventing herself after a bewildering set of events that almost destroy her.”

Here’s the full review on Derik’s site: Dodging Arrows

H Bane ***** review ~ Really Great Book

“This is such a well written book that really just draws you in. Dorothy leads us on a journey on how she ended up where she’s at. We also have the story she writes of Millie.”

Jackie McAll ***** review ~  Is it just the roll of the dice? Super book

Diana Jackson has a way of writing that easily draws you into the lives of her characters. Although this book handles large themes of destiny and change, love and forgiveness, they are handled in an easily readable way. I loved the story within the story (deserving of a book of its own!). She saves a surprise for the end ! Highly recommended.

Both reviews are great reviews but, I’m sure you’ll agree, they are not typical of reviews in the mystery genre.

Qualities I wished for my protagonist

In order to keep these readers interested how do I think I ‘drew readers in’ or made it ‘addictive?’


Resilience and Fortitude

I believe it was the themes of fortitude and resilience, qualities of my protagonist Dot, which kept the story moving. I didn’t want Dot to be searching, in fact it was her foster son Jamal (a Syrian refugee) who took on that mantel, when his brother also disappeared and he was arrested. I wanted Dot’s strength of character to pull her through the worst of times, only just!

Another theme I could add here was escapism. Dot managed to escape the effects of her tragic circumstances by:

  • escaping into the past ~ the back story in the form of her memories
  • escaping in the present ~ through mindfulness of the natural world around her
  • escaping from even her own thoughts ~ by creating and writing the story of Millie, an aspirant nun who had lived in the place where she squatted a couple of centuries before.

Only time will tell if my gamble with ‘mystery’ worked.



Filed under Book reading, Book reviews, Marketing your novel, MISSING Past and Present, Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel

Themes in novel writing



Writing under a particular genre ~ romance, crime, mystery, fantasy or historical fiction, for example, is one way of classifying a novel, but what about the underlying themes.


Common themes are love, death, evil, survival, war, peace, tragedy.

Writersedit.com lists and describes 10 popular themes:

love, death, coming of age, good v evil, courage and heroism, survival, power and corruption, prejudice, individual v society, war

It is an interesting blog because it describes novels within each theme, great when beginning to plan a novel or even to advertise your novel alongside similar themes.

Why is knowing the theme important?

  • When writing the blurb it is useful to incorporate the themes
  • They are key search words for visibility on the internet (Amazon especially)
  • Themes are succinct words for any marketing materials when describing your book
  • They are great to have ready when giving a succinct verbal description if asked, ‘What’s your book about then?’ ~ difficult if you are not prepared and you don’t want to waffle on.

What themes did I chose?

When planning my recent novel, MISSING Past and Present I slipped into these major themes:

  1. Poverty and homelessness
  2. Mixed relationships and multi faith marriage
  3. Prejudice
  4. Gender inequality
  5. Resilience and fortitude

In my last few blog posts I have addressed the first theme, Poverty and Homelessness, describing how working in a soup kitchen ‘cum’ network of support for homeless people inspired my novel in the first place, and so in the next few blog posts I will turn to the second and third themes, which I feel go hand in hand.


Filed under MISSING Past and Present, Writing, Writing a novel

Cross Genre, #Memoir, #Travel, #Motivational and Inspirational, #History ~ Why?

DSCN2797[1]Dear reader and writer

I posted a tweet about a week ago “Soon to be announced – launch of my Fantasy. It’s a bit of everything , .”

It may have been a coincidence but a day later there was a post on a blog I admire and subscribe to The Book Designer:

Thinking about writing on multiple genres – here’s what you need to know

Firstly – an agent and publisher does not know where to place it ~ or is to self publish best

I must admit that it has crossed my mind as to where bookshops would place my new book, and it is that market which I hope to tap into, as well as Amazon, but I reasoned that it was more a ‘gift book section’ since it is inspirational and motivational. OK – got it, but I am self publishing, or publishing through a small indie press, Eventispress, run by local authors.

Secondly writing what you are moved to write is not always the most productive for marketing purposes.

Will my current readers stay with me? Should I stick to the same genre  to be consistent and build up an audience. Yes, there is lots of sense in this but circumstances have meant that I have altered course. I will write this more fully on another blog post. Whether I am right to veer in different directions I’m not sure. I could give all sorts of arguments ~ this was a book I needed to write, I was so inspired by my surroundings that I could not help myself, I was grappling with ‘who I am’ and this just felt the right direction to go in and I’m thrilled with the result…

Thirdly I’ve not been true to my author brand.

I hold my hand up here. I’m not very good at marketing in a logical way. I know I should be more business like about writing but if I failed to enjoy what I do then I would give up. 

.Specialisation is one key to success.

I must argue that there is one theme running through all of my novels and books and that is my love of social history. If I visit a place the first thing I do is read about its past and its people. ‘Riduna’ and ‘Ancasta’ are historical romantic fiction. Norman’s memoir is of course history too – 103 years of it! Then ‘Murder Now and Then’ was inspired by an unsolved murder one hundred years ago and finally, ‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation’ is inspired by many folks through the ages who either lived in or visited Fife. In fact I ‘met’ them as I walked along the Fife Coastal Path. They were fascinating characters.

Branding is more than genre, it is style, characterisation and voice

Yes, I believe that the characters in ‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation’ are as true to my style as any of my novels ~ more so since the book is in part a personal memoir. My writing reaches from the depth of my soul in a way which I have not really experienced since writing ‘Riduna’ ~ that’s because it was written at a time of ‘soul searching’ and my encounters were as real to me as Harriet and her family in my Riduna Series, who have lived with me for about fifteen years now. It is truly my own voice.

I will finish with this wonderful quote from The Book Designer.

“But ultimately, your goal is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership–regardless of genre. yes!!

By doing so, you can tie a common thread between all genres you choose to explore.”

I could not have put it better myself ~ beautifully written. I recommend reading the whole post for anyone interested in exploring different genre, or multiple genres. 

‘From Redundancy to Rejuvenation ~ A Writer’s Fantasy Walk Along The Fife Coastal Path’ is now available as a paperback on Amazon.


Filed under Events, Fife Fantasy, Writing, Writing a novel