Tag Archive - Theme with a Heart

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…

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…

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