The theme of a novel - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 6 Old 06-21-2009, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
Red
 
Red's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: at my keyboard, writing my novel.
Posts: 4,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Particularly, my novel. How do I know what the theme is.

Silly question, but I've always struggled with plot vs theme. The plot of mine is solid, but I'm afraid the theme is shaky. Any good sites, books or advice on themes?
Red is offline  
#2 of 6 Old 06-21-2009, 09:54 PM
 
MeepyCat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 3,771
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 54 Post(s)
My seventh grade English teacher had this *thing* about theme. Theme isn't a moral, she'd tell us, but the overarching idea of the story. When translated into "what does Mrs. DuVall want me to say on my book report?" it seemed to actually mean the moral.

But here's the thing - three different people reading the same text will come up with three different themes. This is what makes majoring in English interesting enough for anyone to bother with. (And I'm speaking as an English major here, as a reader and a critic, because I've never managed to write a novel.)

Most of novel writing is telling a story. Most of the rest is making it interesting to read. If you read it over at the end and come up with a theme you dislike, revise, but I wouldn't worry about it during the initial writing process.
MeepyCat is online now  
#3 of 6 Old 06-21-2009, 11:49 PM
 
eastkygal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: some dark mtn. holler
Posts: 2,675
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I wouldn't worry about a theme. Often, you will hear many writers aren't intentional about any kind of themes and sometimes even imagery. It happens in the telling of stories. Kind of like the whole Carl Jung ideas of collective unconscious. There will be one as the pp said whether you intentionally put one in or not. I think thinking about it too much can stifle a story.

Appalachian mountain woman, radical homemaker, homeschooler, childbirth educator, and doula loving her DH and three powerful little femmes. Deladis 8-4-05, Ivy 4-28-08, and Gweneth 7-21-12 HBA2C! hbac.gif  -  blogging.jpg ribboncesarean.gif

eastkygal is offline  
#4 of 6 Old 06-22-2009, 02:28 PM
 
Sagesgirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 3,385
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
ITA with not worrying about a theme. Readers will come up with it on their own. (Which, honestly, is the main reason I'm not an English major--the constant insistence that we extract deeper meaning from works that may well have been written without any.)

My English Lit class this past semeter read Alias Grace. I read a Salon interview with Margaret Atwood, and they spent some time talking about how in many ways it's a novel about laundry. Laundry is a recurring symbol in the book. The act of doing laundry was very important. Et cetera. Know what? Not one person in class (or, from what I gather, in any of the professor's other classes) picked up on laundry. Nor did the professor introduce it in our discussion of symbolism. It's something that was important to the author, purposely emphasized...and then completely missed by a large group of readers.

So, don't worry about it.

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

Sagesgirl is offline  
#5 of 6 Old 06-25-2009, 04:48 AM
 
marsupial*mama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 373
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Isn't the theme just the main character's ultimate goal - such as forgiveness, redemption, emancipation etc? You can include symbolism that touches on those themes but overall, the theme is inherent to the story, and no something that must be consciously defined by the author.
marsupial*mama is offline  
#6 of 6 Old 06-25-2009, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
Red
 
Red's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: at my keyboard, writing my novel.
Posts: 4,486
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks, that's what I needed to know. I was afraid I needed to be taking care of it, and I'm afraid isn't going to be what people expect.

Than again, things never are.
Red is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off