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Writerly Wednesday : What's the Theme of Your Novel?

Authors often build their novels around an overarching theme...

Sometimes they do it consciously, and sometimes the theme rises through the story until the author finally takes note of it during the revision process.

Which is exactly what happened to me after I found the quote above and then thought about MAP, my current novel-in-progress, which I've been sharing with you over the past few weeks.

I've always thought of MAP's theme being one or all of the following:

  • the importance of pursuing one's dreams
  • our search for God
  • the need to find meaning in one's life

When I read the wonderful opening lines from James Bowen's tale about a stray cat (of course it's much more than that) the idea of second chances really resonated with me as I looked at what I am currently trying to achieve in my own life.

Given the incredible economic melt-down that we've all experienced in the last five years, and the many people who lost everything and are now re-building lives, it's a theme that probably resonates with many people.

And as I sat down to write today's Writerly Wednesday post, I had an epiphany. One of the most important themes in my novel-in-progress is the pursuit of a second chance. In the case of my main character, her life depends on achieving a second chance.

What I love about the subconscious mind in the process of writing is how hidden ideas become part of the story without our conscious intention.

I also think that the best part of the subconscious mind at work is that the theme is woven into the story, rather than laying like a thick layer of frosting on top.

Another aspect of themes in novels that I find fascinating is how often a writer returns to similar themes in her novels. When I see that trend in a favorite author, I wonder if it's a conscious decision on their part, or not? 

When I look at my own books, whether they're women's fiction or my most recent children's book, one of my most common themes is the search for God and the pursuit of meaning in one's life. Those themes are an important part of my writing because they are very real questions I pursue in my life. And I believe that one of the most important reasons we write (and read) stories is to seek answers (and to be entertained in the process).

If you're a writer, I'd love to hear from you on how you incorporate themes into your novels. Is it conscious or unconscious? Do you find yourself returning to the same themes in more than one book?

If you're a reader, do purposely seek out books with a theme? If so, what are your favorite themes?


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