Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Why Authors Should Read Motivational Books

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! How's everyone's week going?

So right now I'm reading Brendon Burchard's The Charge and I'm loving it. It's fantastic. So inspirational! And it's meant to be. It's motivational book, after all. But that's not why I'm advising authors to read books like this. 

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Let's talk about THEME for a minute. All stories we write have themes, yeah? Part of our craft is learning to incorporate theme into plot so that it's a natural part of the story. So we aren't telling or sounding to preachy. But sometimes, it can be a challenge to figure out what theme we're going for in a story.

A story that meanders along and needs help probably doesn't have a concrete theme. Once the author figures out the theme, the entire story comes together. And this doesn't always happen by the author having a light bulb moment about "theme." Sometimes by figuring out events in the plot, things fall into place. But chances are those events complete a theme the author didn't even know they were aiming for. It's a beautiful thing when that happens. 

So what's that got to do with motivational books or my current read?

Well, it's been a while since I read a motivational book. Probably about a year. But I've been annotating the crap out of this book. So many of the statements in it have jumped out at me as relevant to my WIPs. I've thought a lot about why that is. Some of the topics covered by author include how to train our brains to be motivated and follow through on our goals and aspirations. He talks about mechanisms in the brain that are keeping us from doing that.

"Emotion, it turns out, is the spark that compels us to care in the first place."--Brendon Burchard, The Charge, pg 100.

Since my Interchron series is all about the brain and how it connects to the soul, obviously this is going to strike a chord with me.

But that's not all that's jumped out at me. Other things have struck me as relevant to other novels, including my crime fiction series and the high fantasy/dragon series that I'm still working on and haven't started publishing yet. So it can't just be a matter of something being specific to me and oh what great luck that I picked this book up. It's more than that. 

Finally, the other day, it hit me: General, true, motivational statements are inherent themes. 
"Our desire to bond and belong outweighs almost every other desire--often even our desire for survival..."--Brendon Burchard, The Charge, pg. 117
Let's take a really vague and obvious example like "You should always put your children first." Now, again, if you have your characters say this a million times, or point it out in the narrative a bunch of times, that will come off as preachy and it's obvious the author is trying to tell their audience something. A great writer will create a story with flawed characters and show this theme. Make the audience really feel it. Maybe even show the negative consequences of when this isn't done. 

But you all know that. It's the definition of great story-telling, right? 

My point is that motivational statements, by definition, are themes. Not every motivation statement you read will be applicable to your WIP by far, but some will. They can help you come up with theme, which can only help you craft your story more effectively. So if this is something you're struggling with, pick up a motivational book. 

"There is a bolder man inside you than the one sitting next to me now."--Brendon Burchard, The Charge, pg. 145.

My personal and of course very objective suggestion would be The Charge. ;D

Do you struggle with theme? How do you push through to define it? What's your favorite motivational book?


  1. Wanting to bond explains why a lot of people hook up with the wrong crowd.
    Each of my stories has a theme and it didn't become apparent until after I'd written them.

    1. I agree about people hooking up with the wrong crowd. The book also talks about something called mirror neurons, which is why the wrong crowd always has the wrong influence on us. Interesting stuff.

      My theme practices come and go. Sometimes I have one in mind. Other times, like you, I discover as I write. Have a great weekend, Alex! :D