Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Theme - Takes Some Thinking Through!

 It always helps to wear your thinking cap.
Ok. You've got your story plot. You're familiar with your characters. You've successfully come up with a back cover blurb. And you even know its hook. Now, what about its theme? Hm, that takes some thinking through.

Maybe that's not mandatory, but a publisher just may ask this, What is the spiritual theme? Or, what is the plot theme? When you think about it, all stories do have a theme, whether planned or not. Just as an example, the other night I suffered through a Clint Eastwood film my hubby was watching. And as with nearly all his movies, the theme jumped out...RETRIBUTION. Those baddies are gonna get it in the end!

As Christian writers, maybe we'd use something similar, but in another form, e.g. consequences of evil. And we'd usually combine it with hope, forgiveness, or redemption.
In my first book, Fire in the Rock, the theme of opals was threaded through the whole story. And I didn't even plan it that way. Ah-hah. Beginners luck. With the next book, I'd finished the first draft and still didn't know. Yet, as I rewrote, changing things, deleting nice descriptive passages, strengthening characters, etc. I found it! Eureka! Plain as day (cliche!) It was this: "True love is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice". I have to admit I felt so relieved writing that in my Book Proposal. I guess we become so involved in the actual plotting, it simply escapes us. At other times a theme can occur naturally, and we discover it as we're writing. Another strange thing, maybe even after it's published, a reader will share what it meant to her/him and tell you what they thought its theme was. Rare, but surprising.

I'm now setting myself a goal; to have a theme in mind when I first start. I believe that will only strengthen the story. Am I alone in this? Or do all you writers out there know what your book theme is going to be? And how about readers? Your opinion is important to us. Do you look for a theme, or is it the story, or perhaps the characters you care about most? We'd sure love to know!

Rita Stella Galieh's  Signed, Sealed and Delivered, Book I of the Watermark Women Trilogy will be released by Ark House Press in September. Each week she features a real life romance from stories sent from all over the globe. See  http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com   (Why not send yours?)

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  1. Hi Rita,

    I'm useless at deciding a theme ahead of time. In fact, for me, a lot of preplanning means the book never gets written. Can you tell I'm a pantser?

  2. I can usually determine the theme ahead of time, though it often needs a bit of tweaking. Saves me some rewriting to know what the 'point' of the story is!

  3. I usually have the theme before I have the characters or plot, but even then, I find readers bring more out of it than I consciously put in there. I love that about writing! And I would love to read your "Fire in the Rock", Rita. :) info(at)amandadeed(dot)com(dot)au.

  4. It just goes to show how different we all are in the way we tackle our writing!

  5. Thanks for the post - and for the gorgeous pic! How cute is this?

  6. Rita, we should have a contest for Best Blog Pic of the year--you'd win hands down! I used to predetermine my themes, now I just let them develop from the story. But either way, the English teacher in me agrees--you must have a theme.

  7. Well, girls, it's good to see how strongly you're convinced about having a theme. But it sure doesn't come easily. When I first came across that little bub, I knew just how he felt. Yes, his expression exactly mirrors mine when I'm stuck!