Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Themes in Writing

To be quite honest, I have no idea what this is. I was told once I had a lovely theme running through THE LADY'S FATE, but until she pointed it out to me, I had no clue I'd even written one.

I'm presuming a theme is a recurring item, or something, that keeps showing up in the book. Let's go with that for the time being. (I'm too tired to look it up and then get bogged down in some scholary discussion.)

While I've been away, my latest character Kate, has come knocking on my door. Which is nice. At least I know who I'm going to be working with for the next little while. I know how the story starts, I know where it goes. Still not quite sure how it ends yet, but that's another post.

Anyway, while Kate and I have been schmoozing about her story, something clicked in my head, not like a light bulb, more like an explosion. I always knew Kate had a somewhat troubled childhood, but I didn't know why, until (as I was semi-plotting/outlining) I saw her sitting on the couch thumbing through a photograph album. Kind of the same way Aunt Fortuna did in REMEMBERING YOU.

Where Aunt Fortuna was looking at her life in comparison to what she would leave behind, Kate is looking at her childhood to see where it would take her. And that is where my explosion happened.

See, Kate's father was killed in a mill fire (he was Captain of the Fire Dept.) and there are pieces of her childhood that elude her. What she finds in the photograph album were the pieces. And that, my friends, is the revelation! Ta Da!

I guess this is my theme then -- photographs. I don't know if it's going to be in all my women's fiction, but I know when I look at photographs, I find out things about myself and my past that I never really thought about before. It's a good mirror.

Tell me -- Do you use themes in your writing? Do you know what they are?


Linda G. said...

A theme is just the main idea of a piece. I never pick a theme ahead of time, and write to express it--I write first, and see what kind of themes emerge. I figure my subconscious will take care of it.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Interesting definition. I guess then all my themes are the same -- finding love. As for writing them, I guess my subconscious is working overtime.

Em-Musing said...

Oooh! I think photographs as a theme is great. LOve how your characters come and talk with you. I used to tell my boyfriend that if he heard me laughing or talking in the bathroom to not think I was crazy. I told him that I was a writer and this is what writers do.

Nicki Elson said...

Sometimes my sub-themes (which is what I call the "recurring items" that aren't part of the over-arching theme) are pre-meditated but usually they just sort of make themselves known as I write, like you with your photographs. That sounds like a really cool theme.

P.S. I've just tagged you with an award at my place - no pressure to follow up on it, though I'd love to hear your answers.

Al said...

Like Linda I tend to write first.
But as themes develop I tend to shape the story to fit them.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

The first thing I do when I plan a novel is figure out the theme. That will help shape the characters, plot, and subplot. It helps add cohesion to your story.

Anne Gallagher said...

Leigh -- At least you keep your conversations private. I'm usually talking to my characters in the grocery store.

Nicki -- I saw the award and I thank you for it. Sub-themes, over-arcing themes -- what am I missing as I write???!!!

Al -- I guess I must be in your group then. I don't do it consciously. That's for sure.

Stina -- Wow. So much I don't do when I write. Guess I better get with some kind of program.

jabblog said...

Themes develop by themselves, I find, but then I don't really think too much about what I'm writing - just get on with it. That could explain a lot . . . ;-)