Writing: Variations on a Theme

Posted: October 5, 2010 in Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

My agent once pointed out that both my current project and my new WIP explore similar themes. She meant this in the best possible way, and her observation holds true. I really do like to play with good vs. evil, alive vs. afterlife, heaven vs. hell.

I also read a lot of books and watch a lot of TV (SUPERNATURAL, anyone?) and movies with those same motifs.  Blame it on Star Wars or Indiana Jones or those hot Winchester Brothers… but I adore stories dripping with epic stakes, spiritual overtones, and classic symbolism.

What can I say? I just love a good variation on a theme.

And I’m not alone.

Donald Maass, in Writing the Breakout Novel, asserts theme transforms a manuscript into “more than just a story.” He believes theme is integral, emerging “from the very substance of the story.” While the patterns and messages of theme are finessed in final drafts, they can’t be tacked on or artificially manufactured. Themes begin in the subconscious and develop organically.

Mary Kole, my Abfab Agent, has also addressed this topic on her blog. She believes that in any work, “there should be distinct themes and ideas that you [can] point to as the center of your book.” To her, theme is “like magic… connections you never knew you’d made, common images and ideas that resonate with the larger meaning of your work, all sorts of interesting stuff.”

In her post, she explains how to develop these connections.

Looking for other resources on THEME? Try reading these:

STORY by Robert McKee

THE POWER OF MYTH by Joseph Campbell


List of Common Themes in Literature by Janice E. Patten

That’s a lot of THEMES…tell me, which ones do you write and dream about?

Hungry for more? Try this recipe for Angelic Peach Trifle. You’ll enjoy the layers and the subtle almond flavor.

  1. Jemi Fraser says:

    Good question. My writing tends to explore personal growth – gaining confidence and believing in yourself and your choices. There’s always a good vs evil theme too, but I think it’s mostly about the journey the characters take. 🙂

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