Reflection: The Theme

Today, I’m going to reflect about the themes in my writing.  A theme is a major topic in a work of fiction, and one of the things you get when I go deeper trying to answer the great question (reflected on here), a common topic that exists throughout the story.  It could be something simple like love, hatred, death, or freedom, but it could be something a bit more complex.

When I first wrote, I didn’t care too much about themes, and yet, when I reread many of my older works, I found that they did have a theme in them.  The Sapphire Skull (read it here) is about greed, while The Radio (read it here) is about revenge.  Yet when I wrote both of them, I never planned to write a story about greed, or revenge.  I suspect this is the subconscious influence, the piece of my soul I write into my works that I mentioned in my poem Stories (read it here).

Even my longer, more complex works, like Swogprille had this happen.  Though Swogprille is a long saga with a large number of subplots and side stories, I reviewed it, and found a number of recurring themes, like anger or hatred clouding judgment, whether immortality would be a gift or a curse, and the fact that there is good and evil in everybody.

I didn’t realize this until I learned the great question.  Since then, I’ve made a more conscious effort to make the theme more prevalent in the story, though I have to do so carefully, not to force the theme into a story where it doesn’t fit.  Plus, I can’t be too obnoxious about it, or I’d come off as writing a fable or even simply preaching.  I find it’s better to include the theme in the details.

Though occasionally including a character explicitly state the theme is not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s probably necessary to get the theme across in many cases, so long as I don’t go out of my way to do it, or do it too often.

But I should be especially careful about stating the theme outside of dialog, or a character’s thoughts, as this seems a lot more preachy, and makes it a bit too prevalent.  In general, I find it best to avoid that without a very good reason.  It can work, though.  Mentioning a theme in the narration at the end of the story may be an excellent conclusion, though it could also be better to leave it unsaid, and let the reader find it on his own in the details.

It’s really a matter of taste.

Other times, though, I may realize the theme while I’m writing, similar to how I didn’t notice many of the themes in my older works until much later.  If I do this, I’ll certainly keep it in mind, and see how I can take advantage of this…unless I realize I’m using a theme that conflicts with one I intended to use, in which case, I may have to rethink the story a bit more.

The theme is indeed one of the components to the answer of the great question, though it is not always a necessary one.  Sometimes, the theme gets into the story without me trying, and those may be the most natural.  The theme has to fit the story, and letting it find itself like that can be the best option in many cases.  Well, that should do for this week.  White Rakogis, signing off!

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