Have you read or heard about the through-line? Dictionary.com defines it as “a theme or idea that runs from the beginning to the end of a book, film, etc.”
Up until recently, I hadn't heard of this through-line, so I did some research. It seems that the through-line is used a lot by those involved with screenwriting and movie making. The through-line of a script is the journey from the beginning of the story to the end. It is the main premise that pulls the story through all of the obstacles that the protagonist faces along the way. The driving force of the plot. Think of a train leaving point A and traveling to point Z. It may stop along the trip, but it doesn’t derail if all goes well. The main character or protagonist on this train journeys through the story. The driving force of the story is always clear. Kind of a cool image, don’t you think? This is helpful for someone like me who has a tendency to get off track and wander (dare I say ramble?) at times when I'm writing.
I’m betting that considering the through-line will keep me more focused as I write and as I read. How about you?