injecting themes.

| Monday, January 18, 2010
Today's Tune: Bottle of Buckie

My post a few days ago (the one with the McDonald's failWrap) got me thinking about themes. To be specific, working themes into our writing.

Most of us have done some sort of literary analysis at one point or another, whether it was discussing Hamlet in English class or reading a book in front of the fire and realizing the author was trying to tell us something with their story. We've also realized that many of the themes we read into literature weren't originally intended by the author. But what about those themes that the author DOES intend?

Do you ever intentionally try to weave a theme or lesson into your writing? I've attempted it in the past, only to find myself floundering. I think my problem was trying to make my writing "deeper," because I didn't have confidence that the story by itself was enough. I felt like it needed a big, meaningful theme to define it!

That was all wrong. This was me taking an idea I already had and trying to superimpose a BIG IDEA on top of it. Doesn't work. Not only that, but trying to incorporate an actual lesson into a work of fiction (to the tune of "suicide isn't the answer" or "drugs are bad" or "don't put salt on slugs") without fail makes an author sound preachy, and most readers aren't interested in that.

If we're writing with a theme in mind, we have to have that theme in mind from the beginning and create a story that weaves easily into it. Better yet, we should just write our story and let the themes present themselves to us. We'll almost certainly weave them in without even noticing.

Some authors seem to be able to write in theme effortlessly, but that's always because the STORY stays front and center - not the message the story is trying to convey.

1 comments:

{ KarenG } at: January 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM said...

I can't imagine starting out to write a thematic piece. The things in my head that want to come out somehow manage to one way or the other. Sometimes I don't even realize the themes are there until I'm done with a later draft. Then I might go back and expand or tweak just a bit. I'm of the "let the themes present themselves to us" school.

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