Tag Archive - Four Corner Pillars of Novel Construction

A Journey through Theme Development

Today we’re going to wrap up our look at theme, one of the four corner pillars of novel construction. All year I’ve been emphasizing how important it is that writers work on all four “corner pillars” supporting their story at the same time, in a kind of holistic process. Brainstorming these four pillars at the same time, strengthening each as you see how they fit together, will help you end up with a strong, tight novel.

There is no need to work on these in a certain order. Start with your idea, then keep moving through the elements that pertain to building your protagonist and his goal, your concept with a kicker, your conflict and high stakes. Use the inspection checklists at the bottom to ask those hard questions of your structure and work out the answers until you have those pillars fashioned and hardened like concrete! Continue Reading…

Generating and Developing Theme in Your Novel

We’ve been examining the fourth crucial support of your novel—theme with a heart. I noted in these last two posts that theme is more important than plot in terms of supporting the whole of your story. I called plot a vehicle for your theme. It’s also the vehicle to showcase your concept, protagonist’s goal, and central conflict. In other words, try to think of plot as functioning different from the other elements in your story. We will take a look at plot next as one of the pillars in novel construction, but it’s the structuring of the plot itself that we’ll focus on. It speaks to the framework of your “building” rather than the actual materials, if that makes sense.

Theme: the Unsung “Hero” of Novels

So, let’s return to theme for another look. When I started contemplating what to write about this pillar, I realized I didn’t have a whole lot to say. Theme isn’t often discussed as a crucial element in a novel, but to me it is, and is mostly overlooked or taken for granted. Do writers just assume theme will just show up and needs no introduction? I’m not sure. Continue Reading…

Themes That Develop Organically in Your Novel

In the last two weeks we’ve begun discussing theme, the fourth key corner pillar of novel construction. I argued that without theme, plot is just a string of scenes, with little purpose. And although such a collection of scenes could be exciting to read, theme takes that plot to a much higher level, and ultimately gives you a higher quality story.

Themes are not just topics or subjects, which takes up back to the contrast between idea and concept. You might say your book is about abortion or capital punishment. That is just the topic (idea). Ask: What are you saying about that topic through your characters? Whether you are taking a strong stance or none at all (just want to explore the topic), in order to have a story with a plot, with characters who care about something, you will have theme. Continue Reading…

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