Posts Tagged ‘theme’

The Heart of Your Story

Today I’m putting down yet another book that I hoped would grip me in a dramatic embrace. Nope, it didn’t. I’m quitting on page 80. If the author hasn’t snared me by now, she never will.

While there are a slew of reasons this heralded steampunk novel didn’t grab me, the most important is one that seems minor to many people, but is central to me: passion. The protagonist is quirky and courageous. But those qualities feel like trappings. The novel is tepid reading. I think the reason is that this story has no hot conviction, no basic truth at its core.

It has nothing to say. Read More…

What’s It All About?

In all of the frenzy to lock down the elements of story craft, we often forget what we’re talking about in the first place. That is, what is your story about? Not plot-wise, but thematically. What is your theme, premise, controlling idea, the core, the heart of your novel?

Don’t know? Can’t state it simply? That’s a prescription for a wandering story, one that can take off in different directions, hijacked by a new idea, a splendid side-canyon where you will stagger around happily until you die of thirst. (Not to scare you or anything.) Read More…

Thoughts on Story Theme

Theme is a loaded word. It conjures up middle school English classes where you have to cough up what the writer was trying to say in Silas Marner. (Wake up before you fall over asleep and break your nose on your desk?) But a couple days ago, I actually used theme to get out of a twist on a novel I’m writing. Situation: Great big plot. Lots of subplots. With so much material, so much to tell, how do I pare it down to a cohesive story?

At the recent Write on the River conference, I heard a hot presentation on the subject of theme in fiction and screenwriting by Brian McDonald. Many of his examples came from film, which is a tighter medium than a long novel–but still, I came away challenged by the idea to state “what I’m talking about” in one sentence. Read More…