When I started to write fiction, I really didn’t have any themes in mind. I just wanted a creative outlet and after I discovered romance writing, knew I’d found the artistic fulfillment I’d craved for decades.
I studied writing for years, formally in writing classes taken at a local community college, and then more casually, by reading many books on craft and attending innumerable writing seminars and workshops.
I was introduced to refined craft topics such as theme, symbolism and subtext, but was mystified at how to weave them artfully into my writing without being too highfalutin’ or obscure.
Later, after having written a number of books, I saw that I had a theme without even realizing it. The vast majority of my books are about women discovering and wielding their personal power.
Here are a couple of examples: In Temptation in Tartan, the heroine initially is called “Lydia Lambkin” by her family because of her yielding nature. But a snippet from the below scene, taken from deep in the book, shows that she’s definitely grown out of that phase:
When she returned to their bed, she held lengths of the worn linen they used as towels. She again smiled at him.
He distrusted that impish smile, accompanied as it was by twinkling eyes.
"So," she said. "Kieran was wrong. Kieran's been a naughty fellow indeed." She took his arm by the wrist and brought it to the bedpost above his head, and wrapped a strip of linen around both, binding him.
Bold she was, and lust curled deep in his belly. His prick twitched with dawning arousal. "I daresay I've been a bad, bad boy."
"Oh, yes." She took another linen strip, rolled him onto his back and trussed the other hand high.
If you like what you read, find more about this book at
Here’s another example: In The Wilder Brother, Dana, a nerdy scientist who has been pushed around most of her life by her status-seeking mother and sister, finally resists.
“Mom wants you to go to Louisville for engagement photos. She’s already set up a sitting at a photographer. She wants to know what colors and flowers you want, and I’ve already started to design your dress.” Nicole took several sheets of paper out of her satchel.
To Dana, every one of the dress designs looked like they were out of someone else’s Cinderella fantasy: leg-of-mutton sleeves, tiny nipped-in waists, and lavish, full skirts. “What am I, Bridal Barbie?” she asked.
Nicole looked hurt, and Max said, “Dana, Nickie took quite a lot of her time designing dresses for you.” Both shot her accusatory glares.
The pit of Dana’s stomach froze colder than Europa’s icy seas. A miserable knot grew in her chest, clenching around her heart. “I’m sorry, but I…I don’t want this.” She stood and walked out of the bar.
Dana gets the wedding and life of her dreams, not her family’s, by realizing her power and exerting her will. If you want to read about it, check it out at
Newbie writers are often worried about over-zealous critique partners or editors squeezing the voice out of their work. It’s not possible, The themes you choose, perhaps unconsciously, aren’t something that can be easily edited out.
And for readers--especially romance readers, who tend to be female--a theme centering on the heroine’s quest can be the most empowering of all.
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeenromance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for several including Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
Check out Suzie's site: http://www.suzdemello.com
And her blog: http://www.TheVelvetLair.com