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What’s Aretha Franklin got that I don’t?

August 18, 2012
tags: ,

Well, I’ve finally discovered why I don’t often feel compelled to write a story through to its end.  I constantly think of absurd characters, surreal settings, and out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye moments; my problem is not in growing the bones and flesh of a story.  It’s in giving my story a soul.  A theme.

Intriguing characters, a masterful plot, tangly mysteries, and eyeball-gripping action are hollow or lost without a reason for them to be and work and fit together.  Not every piece of fiction has to be a soul-prodding, perception-shattering, world-warping psycho-mirror-portal, but it’s got to have a little substance.

I stall when I’m putting a story together because there’s no reason for it to exist, besides amusement.

I feel so strongly about this that I drew my own illustration.

A theme gives a story a goal.  Direction.  Coherence.  More ideas.  Meaning.

Unfortunately, I’m finding it difficult.  Odd too – I have plenty of opinions on plenty of things, and I’m not afraid to share them.  Why is it so hard?  Maybe it’s because a theme makes it real.  Maybe because writing is permanent, no matter how few see it now.  Maybe it’s because a theme is what shapes the story’s life, and communicates.  What if my writing is misinterpreted?  What if everyone disagrees, or worse, no one gets it?  Theme is difficult for me because it’s what’s scary, painful, anxious, and unpredictable about sharing my writing.  And it’s good because the message, however interpreted, is what is felt, and remembered.

So I’m going to focus on theme, and make sure I hold onto it and use it to shape my writing.  I hope it will make it easier to write coherently, finish stories, and give my writing more impact.

More soul.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2012 8:14 pm

    Theme shines when you’ve run out of material. Instead of gazing into the literary void of oblivion, you’ll have a unified vision guiding you onwards. A nice-looking lightbulb in the night. Even writing this shitty paragraph has a theme: light.

    Things looking bright, yet?

  2. August 20, 2012 11:56 pm

    I see the way….

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