Themelining your story!

Well, it’s the end of February already and I’m just not getting to these entries as quickly as I should.  It’s not that I’m not writing; it’s just that I’m trying to get stuff done outside of writing as well as working on a new novel.  Oh well.

As I remember, my next entry was supposed to be about Themelines, which, in my world, are something totally different than what you were taught in English class.  Themelining (no I don’t have a lisp) is vastly different from plotting.  As I’ve made everyone who reads this well aware, I don’t plot my stories.  They come out like they come out during the first draft and I take that lump of coal, polish it until it looks shiny and that’s it.  No secret, just a lot of hard work.  Themelines, which can also be called storylines, are the reasons good stories come out of lumps of prose. 

Themelines are the big picture or the line of action within the story.  Think of it this way, you are writing a story about a guy who meets a specter on the road after an accident.  This is the premise of the story.  The themeline, at least the way I see, is the line of action that ties the entire mess together.  It is part timeline, part character interaction and mostly the body of action that takes you from point A to B. 

I’ve met writers who think plotting makes a more cohesive story.  Others think that plotting makes the story writing process easier.  Bullshit on both counts.  In my experience, plotting makes each story sound like your last story rehashed.  Each idea should stand on its own feet, so to speak.  Love it or hate it.  There are genres where plotting is helpful as hell, mainly those where detectives follow a trail of evidence to a logical conclusion.  But knowing where a story is going from the start, in my opinion, makes the story boring.  If the writer isn’t surprised, the reader probably won’t be either.

The difference between plotlines and storylines is simple.  Storylines (themelines) are, in essence, the big picture of the story you’re trying to tell.  You don’t have to plan these because the story unfolds around you.  The storyline or themeline answers the question or the premise of said story. 

Now, I don’t put anyone down for plotting no mater whether it’s a grocery list or a novel series.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I love suspense.  I rarely know where a story is going when I start; I just have a premise and a few individuals who go into it with no clue what to do.  It’s my way.  The only story I’ve ever written where I knew the ending before it began was Shadow Watchers and it’s taking me forever because it makes the storytelling harder.  At least it does for me.

Now for the pitch:  Darwin’s Sword is available on and soon as an e-book, hopefully on both Kindle and Nook.  As an old fashioned kind of guy, I recommend the print version, but it’s your choice.  If you like the feelings of a rollercoaster ride that just keeps going on, take a look.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.



About dlwhitehead

I am an author from Northern Nevada. My first novel, Darwin's Sword, is available now from and I've been writing since I was thirteen and hope to scare all of you soon with my second release, which is still to be determined.
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