Creating A Mission Statement For Your Novels

Create A Fiction Mission Statement

Lately I’ve been thinking about creating a fiction mission statement for my most recent series.

A mission statement can help you figure out how to brand and market your writing. It can also motivate you to start or finish a novel. And help you generate or refine ideas.

But first, what is a mission statement?

And why should you create one for your fiction?

Fiction Mission Statement Defined

A mission statement is a summary, or sometimes a tag line, about the purpose and values of an organization or person. Corporations and non-profits often use mission statements to guide their growth or focus the people who work for them.

The idea of creating one for fiction isn’t original to me.

I began thinking about it while reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog posts and her book Creating Your Author Brand. Rusch talks about her overall author mission statement: All genres all the time. It makes clear that she likes to write in multiple genres.

But she also has one for each of her pen names.

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For Kristine Grayson, the statement is It’s Not Easy To Have A Fairy Tale Ending. In Rusch’s words, that tells readers that “Grayson will always be goofy paranormal with a touch of romance, usually focusing on myths or fairy tales or both.”

Marketing And Mission

As the above examples show, once you know your mission statement, it’s a lot easier to describe your work to potential readers.

That’s something many novelists, including me, struggle with.

I like to write long. My emails are long. My first drafts of blog posts are long. Most of my short story attempts turn into novels.

So whether I’m at a party or creating an ad, telling someone in a few seconds what my books are about poses a real challenge.

Once I create a fiction mission statement, though, I know how to convey both what I’m writing and why.

Motivation, Ideas, And Mission

The why helps me sit down to write (or stand and dictate) whether I feel like it or not at any particular moment. Because now writing is about more than simply my personal love of writing and desire to publish books.

It’s about making a difference to readers.

For example, I’m writing a suspense/mystery series now because that’s what I’ve most enjoyed reading over the last 5-10 years.

But I chose the specific main character, setting, and types of crimes for a few reasons:

  • I wanted to write about amazing and wonderful places in Chicago.

So many people hear only about the bad aspects of Chicago, and some of those appear in my books. But readers also get to visit great restaurants, outdoor paintings and sculptures, the expanding river walk, Lake Michigan, and all sorts of other beautiful places.

  • I’m tired of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels that show women being tortured or victimized. 

In real life, the biggest dangers to women are the people (usually the men) they know. Fiction is not real life, and I haven’t stopped reading books where women are victims. Also, there are sometimes women victims in my books.

But I write about crimes that are committed by someone who knows the victim, and victim more often is male.

Also, the Q.C. Davis books are first person, and the protagonist is a smart, creative female lawyer.

The reader sees the story through her eyes as she tries to unravel the mystery. Not through the eyes of a victim or a perpetrator. So the emphasis is on solving the crime and seeking justice, not on committing crime.

  • Showing many sides to issues and people matters to me.

While in a murder mystery the villain generally is, well, a villain, I mostly try to avoid black-and-white answers and characters who are all good or all bad.

The same goes for the issues that form the backdrop for the crimes.

Book 2 in the Q.C. Davis series touches on immigration because a missing college girl may have let her student visa lapse, which makes her sister afraid to contact the police. That sets up a reason to come to my protagonist for help.

The few characters who talk about immigration (where the plot requires it) hold different views from one another.

My main goal is to entertain.

But after that I hope that readers on any side of the issue will gain a little better understanding of a perspective unlike their own.

Writing out the above aims gave me a way to sort through potential plots for Book 4 (Book 3 comes out November 4). It’s also giving me ideas for publicity and marketing, which I’m focusing on more now that the series is well underway.

For instance, I’m kicking around a theme about how the protagonist is a sort of ambassador for Chicago. And thinking about putting together “Quille C. Davis’ Guide to Chicago” as a giveaway for mailing list sign ups.

An event or book bundle with other mystery authors who address social issues in their books also might work.

What’s Your Mission?

What matters most to you when you write a novel? Do you see themes that appear again and again in your fiction?

If so, try using them to formulate your mission statement.

Good luck! Until next Friday–

L.M. Lilly

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