Bonjour! Hoping all of you are gearing up for a passionate February ....
I just read the best book on writing advice, called "Writing Is My Drink" by Theo Pauline Nestor. If you can lay your hands on this book, do it - Ms. Nestor cuts to the quick about what makes prose sing. And she has the clearest insight I've ever read about the ways in which our backgrounds may be holding us back.
One of the techniques Ms. Nestor recommends is something called the triptych method, which she learned from poet Ken Brewer. The triptych is a technique used by visual artists and harkens back to those three paneled works of art many of us remember from our school days.
Here's the idea. We are starting with "theme". Not character. Grab a piece of paper. In the middle of the paper write a word expressing your theme (ie, redemption, etc.). Now divide the page into three. In each third, write about an incident revolving around this theme. Piece them together after you're done, figure out a way to unite them, and voila - a work united by theme.
Happy Valentine's Day. May the month of February bring you love in your work and in your life.