Other Quick Ways To Develop Your Theme in Your Novel

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Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Other Quick Ways To Develop Your Theme in Your Novel
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.


So, over here on WRITE BETTER NOW, we’ve had a three-post series about how to develop your theme and what the hell even in a theme and blah, blah, blah.

This last post is really just focusing quickly on how to develop your theme.

Step One:

Think what the hell kind of insight you want your readers to get. Can you show them a new way to think or see or feel about life?

Step Two:

Write that as a statement with a noun and verb. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT MIGHT DOES NOT MAKE RIGHT.

Step Three:

Make sure that you aren’t shoving that concept down your reader’s throat like a bad over-moralizing superhero movie, right?

Step Four:

Wonder how to do that. Realize that it’s about being subtle, not being a cringy cliché. But it’s also about your character actually struggling and not believing that concept.

Step Five:

Think about those subplots to help show what that character needs to figure out.

Practical Creative Writing says it well:

A story without a theme is little more than a list of events.”

Wow, right? They even call the theme the pulse of your story.

MasterClass suggests:

First look for something universal that will resonate for people outside our own psychographics.

Then try to think of something that will keep your reader thinking.

All of that is very esoteric and abstract.

I think you should think about your plot and what your character needs to learn. Your story is about a firefighter with a dead eccentric dad who was raised by an uncle who believed magic and weirdness should be avoided at all costs. She’s up for a promotion at a fire department and doesn’t stand out. Something magical happens on a run and things spiral out of control. What is the theme here from just the bits I wrote out.

Theme has to be part of plot and character. It has to make sense.

But MasterClasses’s next suggestion we heartily agree with you want to make sure your theme is throughout the whole story, not just slammed in at the end.

They write:

“As you fill in the details of each act, make sure your main character encounters situations that highlight the theme. If you’re balancing multiple story lines, see if you can make your theme manifest in each of those narrative threads—ideally in a different way in each story line.”


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Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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