Defining Your Theme 2 comments

IMG_0141.JPGWho’s doing #NaNoWriMo? Show of hands… Me too. It’s my first try with the NaNo-ers. But, shhhh don’t tell anyone, I’m a rebel. *Gasp*

I wanted to use this time of camaraderie, writing sprints every minute, high-fives, and coffee ODing as a means to get that damn book done. The problem is my word count is no where near the NaNo halfway mark, and my story is sputtering. I know the story is not complete, and I have plenty more that needs to be done. So why isn’t it coming out?


Warning: Brain Hurt- Definition. *Pulls out the dusty tome* *cough* *sneeze* Theme is the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.

Okay, so you have the gist of your novel. Action, Action, Trial, Sad, Action, Bad Ass Ending… But, have you clearly defined your theme? Well, I didn’t. Every time I forced words out onto the page, something was missing. How did I go from pounding out a great story to a complete stop with laptop throwing frustration? I created an outline, went scene by scene, tried beat sheets, tried character sheets, and I don’t even remember what else, but although it was a strong story idea, that certain something was eluding me. Then I came across K.M. Weiland’s post about theme.

I had already figured out my character’s wants, but I hadn’t defined my character’s needs. Bam! I had my theme. The little niggling voice in the back of my mind I kept ignoring finally gained strength. See, I told you.

Defining-Your-Theme--Jennifer-Ray-BooksI was missing a whole section of my character’s internal struggle with her wants vs. needs. My character arc wasn’t flat, but it did gain much more of a curve when I worked on her needs. Once I defined my main theme, my minor themes started to cooperate because they were no longer forced to carry the entire story’s weight.

Now that I have my theme, I am able to write much more, and will be able to finish this novel! If you feel like you’re missing that certain je ne sais quoi, make sure you fully understand your main character’s wants and needs. Know the lie he tells himself. In the middle of all of that, you will find your theme and build a stronger character arc and story. I highly recommend reading Ms. Weiland’s post about theme, and honestly, her entire site is great.

Happy Writing! ~ Jen



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