I’ve written a lovely book-a book about a wonderful, strong girl who must fight to save herself and everyone else from an unseen evil. Sounds typical, but that theme is carried out in so many books. Mine is different, just like everyone else’s (pardon my pun). But did I plan that theme? The good vs. evil, the girl-coming-of-age, the find-your-strength-underneath-your-fears? I find that thinking about writing a book based on a theme can be very disheartening. I have always thought that a book is a book and that reviewers and readers find a theme if they want one.
Then I heard that John Gardner’s ‘On Becoming a Novelist,’ has this information. He basically says that writers don’t write about themes, they write stories and themes are identified by critics. Yes, a writer should be aware of themes in the story and work around them to solidify a story, but the main concern should not be the theme.
So what do you do? Do you write according to a theme, or do you let that take care of itself? I believe the theme in my novel is apparent, but it wasn’t so much until I finished the book and looked back and found it had a strong theme.
I’m keeping this theme, and I love the story and book. I’m curious to see what others find the theme to be, or if they see one at all. I know I do.