Monday, November 20, 2006

Plotting and Theme

If you have a tight plot to begin with and a route to follow, you can always change the route but it must still demonstrate the theme. Irene Yates at a recent course told me, you must know what the theme of your story is. As some of you may have noticed from some of my previous posts, I have a problem understanding what exactly theme is. Irene told me to analyse:

  • Why is your story being written?
  • What does your story demonstrate to children who are going to read it?
  • If your story does not tell you some sort of universal truth about the world, what is it telling you?
  • If your story is just entertainment, why would anyone want to publish it? Only celebrities can publish for entertainment and their books are mainly ghost written.

After in length discussion about theme I have understood the story can’t just be a spirit of adventure there has to be something else. You must demonstrate the theme within the story, such as justice over tragedy, revenge, good overcoming evil. It is a view about life and how people behave. If you haven’t got a theme you are writing in thin air. A theme gives extra depth to the story. It gives you the feeling that you want to get to the end to find out what happens but, you don’t want to finish the book.

You should be able to write the theme of the book in one sentence. The trick (or literary device) in writing a story with a huge theme is to make sure each of your main characters has its own small theme that reflects the main theme. This is known as the macro and the micro.

The macro is the whole planet, the universe, everything. The micro is one person’s life as a reflection of the whole planet, the universe, everything. Being born and dying can happen a hundred times in a lifetime in many ways.

A theme is not in your face but the underlying message. Some people may read the book and not know realise there is a theme at all. It should be so intertwined with the plot that the theme is implicit.

This has helped, in a way and that is why I thought I would share it with you all. I have concluded all emotions can be themes, morals, such as you find at the end of fables, can be themes and proverbs can also be used as themes.

Irene suggested I looked at some of my favourite books and try to work out what the themes of the stories are for myself. However, I can’t help feeling a list of themes would be useful.

If you have anything to add to this post on themes, please do. If I’m still totally on the wrong track please let me know and if you can direct me to a list of themes it would be ideal.

1 comment:

Atyllah said...

Really interesting post, Anita. Not something I would have rationally sat down and thought about, but it makes perfect sense. Have also heard of themes described as basic plot outline/purpose. There are a number of them - not too many, all stories revolve around the same basic themes - there is a good list somewhere but right now the fried brain doesn't allow the memory to recall it!