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Your Seven Staples as a Writer

by Cheryl Wyatt

For this blog post, we’re going to do a little digging. The title mentions seven staples. In the case of this blog post, by staple, I mean the commodity of theme, or something regular that is unique to you and your writing. One definition of staple, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a chief commodity or production of a place.”

In this case, “commodity” means your regular markers as a storyteller, and “place” means your work as a whole.

About fifteen years ago, bestselling novelist Dee Henderson talked about certain elements that are almost always present in each of her books. Things like danger, suspense, family dynamics, etc. She listed around ten things.

Her teaching helped me to begin looking for common traits in my own stories. Themes, setups, tropes, common threads, etc., that continually show up. I found that the same things were showing up in every book I wrote, even though I didn’t consciously set out to include each of those things at the time of writing the book. I think this is important, because it helped me to find my brand. It helped me also to know my target readership as well as target publishers, and know my unique strengths, God-given gifting and purpose as a storyteller.

Today, I’d love for you to really dig and explore your own staples. Or at least begin to become aware that you have them. Think: what things regularly or repeatedly show up in your stories? There are so many possibilities. You may not even realize there are so many common threads in your books or works in progress. Try to ponder each one, characters, takeaway value (the message the reader ends up receiving at the end of the book), theme, setting, set-ups, plot devices, tropes, etc.

It may be helpful for you to make two lists, like I did.

THINGS/THEMES ALMOST ALWAYS INCLUDED (My Staples:)
-Rescue or rescuers, including first responders
-Romance
-Orphans
-Honoring veterans
-Honoring the elderly
-Medical themes or settings
-Race relations
-Community
-Giving
-Friendship
-Faith
-Worship
-Children
-Animals/pets
-Humor
-Pranks
-Family
-Action/Adventure
-Inclement weather/natural disaster
-Knowing Jesus
-Being close to God
-Prayer/intercessory prayer
-Encouragement

FREQUENTLY (but not always) INCLUDED IN MY BOOKS:
-Single parenthood
-Adoption
-Fostering
-Forgiveness

What about you? What are some commonalities that show up in nearly all your books? I’d love to hear in the comment section, some of your story staples. This could be anything, such as a certain time period, frequent setting, repeated theme, certain season, gifts, or plot favorites. Really, anything.

See if you can list at least seven things that show up time after time in your stories. Of course, there can be more. But try to come up with at least seven. If you’re not far enough along in your writing to pick up on seven regulars, think of your favorite author and try to list several staples that show up regularly in their work.

Please share! 🙂

Cheryl Wyatt DecUSA Today bestselling author and RN Cheryl Wyatt writes romance with virtue themed with rescue. She’s grateful to be a mom, wife, orphan/troop advocate, worshipper of Jesus plus wrangler of words and spoiled Yorkies. She loves readers and cherishes interaction at: https://www.facebook.com/CherylWyattAuthor. View booklist and join her newsletter at: https://www.cherylwyatt.com.

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