Since Everyone Seems to Have Mastered Theme but me, how do -YOU- do it?

Seems like it’s the biggie, the thing that makes a novel stand out. So, what do you do? How do you choose your theme and implement it? (Implement is spelled with an “e.” Thanks spellcheck.)

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4 thoughts on “Since Everyone Seems to Have Mastered Theme but me, how do -YOU- do it?

  1. I got sick of mine about a year ago so I just played around with it and kept looking at preview to see what it looked like.
    I also looked at other blogs I liked to see what they were using. It’s usually written at the bottom.
    I’m on wordpress.com so I was only interested in the free ones. I’m a cheapskate like that.
    Good luck. It’s time consuming but interesting.

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  2. Okay so I’ll go all Irish and respond to this as I would if I was talking to you.

    “Ah sweet Jesus. I missed the bit where you wrote the word ‘novel’. I know,I can’t believe it! A short post and I couldn’t read it properly. What a feckin eejit. So now you can stop wondering if I’m on drugs, or just demented. I confess I didn’t read it properly and thought, ‘oh he’s looking to change his blog theme.’

    The short, non Irish response would be…’whoops.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t. For what it’s worth. Theme is one of those great sounding words that scholarly writers like to use to basically tell the rest of us we don’t know what we’re doing. Kind of like physicists talking about Dark Matter. Meh. Misery, by Stephen King. Tell me the theme. Anything written by Nora Roberts. Go ahead, I dare you.

    How about the Hunger Games? Ah, that’s a little easier, right? You bet – so easy that Collins smothered her story in theme by the time she finished the last book. Beware the intentional exposition of theme!

    To me, theme is a resonance that results from the interaction of your characters as they struggle to resolve the imbalance in their story world. Yeah, that sounds scholarly enough.

    Inevitably, we writers will inject our opinion about values into our writing by depicting the problems our characters face, how they deal with them and what the outcome is. Ultimately, theme is a consequence of all that rather than something that happens intentionally. I honestly don’t believe you can impose a thematic layer on your work. It seeps out of it like dew. If characters revolve around the same central problem and hit it consistently based on who they are (or who they become), theme really does take care of itself. Because we can’t help it. We have an opinion about what should and shouldn’t work, who should prevail and why.

    When somebody asks me what my theme is, I say it can only be described by the story itself. You have to read it.

    And that’s one of the reasons stories exist. They say things that plain narrative can’t, by exposing ideas through the escalating actions of characters in their world as they struggle with a central conflict. “Beware science.” Yawn. “Frankenstein brings dude back to life with horrible consequences.” OMG, how evocative! Brilliant! Why? Because of how the characters worked through the central problem, not because “Beware science” is some kind of brilliant revelation.

    And most themes are like that. In and of themselves, they are nothing new or exciting. It is their exposition through story that make them interesting to think about.

    I just don’t think theme is something we can really capture consciously. As insipid as this sounds, I’ll say it this way: theme happens. It happens when you decide what problem the characters face. It happens when you decide what those characters are like. It happens when they try to do whatever they do to attack the problem and each other.

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