Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing A Novel: Deciding Your Novel's Theme

Yesterday I wrote about my friend Amy's advice: that a writer needs to find the conflict in a story. Another thing we discussed during our time together was our novel's themes.

In BAND GEEK, the main theme was revenge: what can drive a person to want to seek vengeance, just how far will a person go, do the ends justify the means? Most of my characters were seeking revenge on some level so that theme repeated throughout my story.

But there were other themes present, as well. One was redemption. Josh starts out as a typical "bad boy" but realizes that he has to eventually grow up. Melinda learns some lessons, too, when it comes to taking on the role of "bad girl." Lana's ex-boyfriend, Ken, betrays her in a major way, but becomes more likeable as the book goes on. Melinda's parents have issues, but they, too, attempt to redeem themselves when it comes to dealing with their daughter. Even the novel's villains, Kathy and Mr. Francis, show different sides of themselves over time.

When it comes to my latest novel, I'd say that the main theme is identity. Griffin has only recently begun telling people that he's gay and has to figure out what this means for him: where does he fit in with his friends? In the dating world? At school? On his sports team? With his family? With his religion? He has a lot of decisions to make, all which center on him deciding who he is. The same goes for Sadie, who for years, has merely identified herself as "The Fat Girl." She's let her weight imprison her, physically and mentally; once she begins to come out of her shell, she realizes that she's been trapped in this version of herself for so long, she has no idea who she is. So both characters have to go through a lot of self-exploration and maturing. This is why I set the story to take place during their freshman year of college. It's a time when most new college students go through many changes and explore their identities; they're living away from home for the first time and are exposed to different types of people and experiences. That theme of identity is there on a micro and macro level.

Of course, as I continue with my story and flesh it out, more themes will come up. I want my book to be as detailed and complex as possible and am still in the process of putting it together. Having an overriding theme, though, at least gives my tale a direction. I plan to use this "map" as I forge on ahead in my writing.

Please read and review my first novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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