Tag Archive - Four Corner Pillars of Novel Construction

Just What Is Theme in a Novel, Anyway?

We took an introductory look at theme last week, and saw how theme is what your story is really all about once you look beneath the plot. I postulated that theme is tied in with the writer’s passion and interests, which turns the focus away from the actual story and toward the writer’s heart. By exploring why we are so jazzed about telling a certain story, we can mine rich themes and develop them.

Too often writers don’t consider theme or even think their novel has one (or more), but I believe every story is about something more than plot. Or if it isn’t, it can and should be.

Theme is a glue that holds all the novel components together: characters, setting, conflict, plot, and well, just about everything else. It sticks it all together. It’s like yeast in dough that makes all things rise to the top, to excellence. No plot, and you have a flat “yeast-less” lump of dough. Okay, enough with the metaphors, right? Continue Reading…

Theme—What’s at the Heart of Your Story

In our exploration of the 12 key pillars of novel construction this year, we’ve first been delving deeply into what I call the four corner pillars—the primary pillars for any novel in any genre that carry the greatest weight of your story.

Earlier in the year I likened structuring a novel to actual building construction and asked you to imagine that you have twelve total pillars that hold up your “roof” and keep your building from collapse. Four of those, though, are the most crucial. Take out a pillar somewhere in the middle of a wall and the building may still stand (for a while . . .). But remove a corner pillar and . . . well, there is immediate devastation. Continue Reading…

The Valuable Lessons Conflict Teaches Us

As we wrap up our look at the third corner pillar of novel construction—conflict with high stakes—I’d like to make a few other observations about conflict. I spoke a bit about inner and outer conflict last week (if you’ve missed any of the posts on this topic, start here), and how the best novels have both types of conflict in great measure, and in various strengths involving as many characters and situations as possible. Messier is better when it comes to conflict, and we have to resist the tendency to be nice to our hero or heroine. Continue Reading…

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