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Themes

Post  Matthew on Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:14 pm

Wow, this place has been pretty quiet lately, hasn't it?

I've been thinking about themes and symbols in stories recently. For example, the theme for the Harry Potter series is death, love etc, and Hedwig is a symbol for innocence.

So, I've been wondering. Do writers know the theme of the story when they start writing, or do they look at it when they've finished and decide "the theme of this book is death"?
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Re: Themes

Post  Amanda on Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:29 am

I personally think it's something that happens after you've written the story--the theme always shapes the story, working in your subconscious, but you're unaware of it in the act of crafting the events. An author might be like 'I want to do a story on the theme of love,' or whatever, and make a novel based on that, but when the goal of the author is to convey their theme, consciously, throughout the entire project, it can get preachy or stiff. I can usually tell when this is the case, b/c it sounds more like something by Aesop than a story with characters I can and want to relate to. Smile
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Re: Themes

Post  Constance on Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:04 am

It's quiet because Lizzy is on vacation. Sad

This is really interesting. I'd never thought about it. I think, "That was a dark book," or "that was a very happy book," but I don't think "death" or "love". I dunno, maybe I just tend to think in emotions, not themes.

But I have to agree with Amanda. Unless the author is REALLY good, if they choose a book with a conscious decision of a theme, it will sound preachy. I don't know if it really counts as a theme, but James Patterson's 'Maximum Ride' series is like that to me. Some were worse than others, but he was just SO preachy about the whole global warming/the-earth-is-going-to-die-now that it kinda ruined the story.
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Re: Themes

Post  Maggie on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:54 pm

I agree mostly with Constance. I think when I read I get a sense of the 'feel' of the book. It really depends on whether or not the author was TRYING to have an actual theme... if they were, then I might or might not pick up on it. It really totally depends.

As far as me writing SOMETIMES I will have a theme, but really -- like Amanda said -- it's something that just happens and that you stand back and notice. I might read my novel and see potential for a theme and then go back and tweak it, but I never start out writing and say "This book will have a theme of death!" or something like that.

I might pick a lesson the story teaches, if that's the same thing... Like I wrote a book that was specifically about freedom and breaking free from something oppressive and trapping.

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Re: Themes

Post  Constance on Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:18 pm

Oh, I like that, Lizzy. I kinda feel like themes and what the book teaches are basically the same thing. One about freedom sounds nice. Smile

She's back, guys!! This means it won't be so quiet! YAY!!!
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Re: Themes

Post  Bwood on Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:35 pm

I think authors might have an idea of what the theme of their book is going to be about such as in Animal Farm where George Orwell consciously made the animal's society show the pitfalls of Communism,Propaganda, Capitalism, Oligarchies, etc.

I think a story like Animal Farm was able to get away with this much rhetoric about the themes because Orwell didn't really intend it to entertain people more to possibly warn? Persuade? Something of that nature I believe.

I think you have to walk a thin line of what is too preachy and what isn't. Or else you risk making your story bogged down with rhetoric.

So maybe that's where the distinction lies is if you want to make your story to entertain then you don't put as much consciously about the themes or if you want to speak to your readers not just to entertain.

Then real good authors are able to do both simultaneously! Such as in Brighton Rock (a very decent read by the way) when I first read it last year I never really appreciated it until I read it again much more recently. Then I noticed all the themes and how it truly was an entertaining story.

That's just my take on all of this stuff anyways.
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Re: Themes

Post  Maggie on Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:23 pm

Mmm, yeah. *nods* For the most part, I agree.

I just want to take this moment to say how awesome it is we have an american writer boy. You should get a prize or something.

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