Monday, January 09, 2012

Story and THEME

Themes and the story.

Theme is what your story is about. Theme gives your story a below-the-surface deeper meaning.

Recently I’ve begun thinking about different themes that run through stories. I love it when I’m reading and the theme begins to emerge and by the end of the story, I get it. I go, “Wow.” And the story stays with me even after I’ve reluctantly read the last word.

Have you read any stories like that lately? I’m reading one now. I was asked to read it and consider it for an endorsement. I’ll definitely be endorsing this book. It’s about helping others. Serving others even when it’s not convenient for you. And it has a great murder mystery woven throughout. That’s was a great book does. It has the reader examining his/her own life because the theme has touched her. It’s made her go, “Oh, how am I doing in this area?” Or is has the reader saying, “Wow, my friend, Ann, needs to read this because she’s struggling in this area.” A book like this is much more than just a story. It’s power. Power to change lives. The power to offer encouragement, to fill someone with determination, to offer hope.

And that’s just amazing to me.

As a writer, sometimes I start with an idea for the theme. Other times, it comes to me as I write. It’s absolutely possible to start a story with no theme in mind, but I’ve found that as I fill out my character sketches for the hero and heroine, and sometimes a secondary character, a theme will emerge. Because as I learn about my characters, get to know their pasts, their baggage, their likes and dislikes, their hurts and triumphs, the theme of the story is related to that. In my stories, theme is character driven. I might have a sketchy idea of the plot, a few scenes that I know I want to incorporate, who the villain is, and what’s going to happen by the end of the book, but if I don’t know my characters, I find I have no theme. I know a lot of authors write their stories around a theme they’ve already picked out, but I’ve never done this.

What about you? How do you decide on a theme for your story? Does it come as the story progresses or do you decide before you start writing? And if you’re not a writer, but a reader, what kind of themes do you like to see in the stories you read?

Thanks for stopping by!


Sheri Salatin said...

I'm still new at the whole writing thing - About 85k words into my first novel - but I would have to say that the theme for my book all sort of rolled into place after my characters and story line jumped in my head. I'm with you all the way on the theme, though. It's what makes a book really stick with me. I love the life lessons that I have learned from authors who take the time to really dig into their theme. Makes for wonderful and meaningful reading.

Thanks for sharing. Great thoughts!

Lynette Eason said...

Hi Sheri, thanks so much for stopping by. 85K words is a whole book! LOL. Hope you finish it soon. Who are you targeting?

Sheri Salatin said...

Yeah, so I've heard. :) I'm wrapping up the loose ends right now. I figure that once I delete and edit out all the unnecessary scenes, it will be about right. I was aiming for 100k. I think it's going to be a little over that.

I'm writing Christian Romantic Suspense and targeting women.

Do you mind my asking about how many words are in your books? It's hard to tell for me because I'm used to looking at page numbers rather than words. :) HA!

Lynette Eason said...

Sheri, my books like the Women of Justice series are 85-90K words, although, in the new contract I'm getting ready to sign, they lowered the count to 80-85K. I'd say you're about ready to write THE END. LOL.


Sheri Salatin said...

Wow. Yes, I think you're right. Can't end it now though, I'm just getting to the climax :) Good to know that I won't have to be sad to hit the delete button. lol :)

I LOVE your books. Keep up the great work!!

I love how crisp and fresh your writing style is. Very good work.