Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, determining your book’s motif is a step in the right direction in creating your book’s final tapestry. A motif is an element, whether figurative or literal, that recurs in your book that has symbolic significance.
It might be an image that appears at the beginning of each chapter or a perspective the author tries to convey. A butterfly for example, is a symbol of transformation. Including it in a book entitled Overcoming Common Obstacles to a Successful Life Transition along with an emphasis on transforming oneself makes it a motif.
Knowing your book’s motif will help you design the best cover for your book, find images that fit the theme, and write your book’s blurb. Therefore, you should take some time to examine the threads of your story. Ask yourself:
Are there any repeating patterns?
Do these patterns reinforce the central theme?
Is there a symbol that readers would associate with your book’s theme?
If you are still having problems finding your motif, maybe you need to consider again WHY you are writing this book and WHAT it is you want to convey.
For example, I have a series of books based on my experiences in Mexico. I wrote these books to help other women negotiate a new culture in Mexico. That’s my why. I want to convey that despite the challenges, it is possible to create a fulfilling life. My motif, therefore, is survival as represented by a blooming cactus, a plant that not only is found throughout Mexico but one that can survive even the harshest conditions and bloom.
The titles also reflect this motif: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico, A Woman’s Survival Guide to Mexican Healthcare, Surviving Voluntary Exile and so on. I’ve incorporated that motif into my blog and even my author page on Amazon. It’s an idea that I want my readers to identify me and my books with.
Assignment: Find your book’s motif.