Weaving a theme throughout your novel, by Melissa Foster
You’ve finally sat down to write your novel, you might even have already created 10,000 words. Hurray for you! That’s a huge accomplishment. Then, a friend might ask if you’re following the rules for your genre. What? There are rules? Your head spins as they speak of word counts, showing versus telling, POV, themes, and subthemes. It’s almost enough to send you running in the opposite direction of your keyboard. Don’t let the confusion stop you from fulfilling your dream, just pick the rules apart, understand them, and conquer them.
Today we’ll talk about the theme of your novel. What’s a theme? The best way to answer that question is by asking yourself why you are writing your novel. Sometimes a theme is the overall tone of the novel, other times it might reflect a lesson you’d like your reader to come away with after reading. When you can answer the “why”, you’ve found your theme! For instance, when I ask “why” about my novel, Megan’s Way, the answer is that I hope that readers will come away with a little more patience and understanding about the lives of others, and be a little less judgmental as well. I’d like to think readers find a renewed sense of forgiveness, and a feeling of hope as well.
Themes carry your reader from page to page, craving what happens next and disregarding their other obligations to find out. While you’re writing, be sure to carry your theme through each chapter. Your characters can take roller coaster rides with their emotions, but the overall theme of the book should be hinted at in every chapter, and carried through to the end, like a piece of thread that pulls it from start to finish. In Megan’s Way, no matter what each chapter reveals, or what secrets are uncovered, the importance of taking a step back, looking at each situation without judgmental eyes, and the ability to forgive, comes through.
I find myself drawn to books that have strong moral themes and heightened struggles. My second novel, Chasing Amanda, carries themes of believing in yourself, even when everything else in life tells you not to, and my current work-in-progress, Come Back to Me, deals with love, commitment, and betrayal, layered upon underlying despair. Conflicting emotions can lead to very strong themes
What’s your favorite theme? What themes do you dislike? If you’d like to chat about themes, or writing in general, please email me: thinkhappygirl (at) yahoo (dot) com. I love to chat with readers and writers!