Using Theme to Plan Your Novel: Final Thoughts

I hope this blog series has really helped you evaluate what is working for and against the theme in your novel. To wrap it up, I have a few final thoughts.

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  1. Everyone’s process is different. You may find these ideas easier to explore after you’ve completed your first draft. Or maybe you’re like me and need to write a few thousand words before you can really sit down and work on planning with the theme. Or maybe you are awesome and can do all this ahead of time. Whatever it is, it’s okay.
  2. Be flexible. You might do all this planning, but as you get into the book you realize that your theme is actually something else. That’s ok. Go with it and just do the theme work over for revisions. Don’t lock yourself into a story that isn’t working just because you were positive that the theme was something before you started writing the book.
  3. You can have more than one theme. The book I’m working on now seems to have two themes at the moment. One about community and one about want vs. need. Now, I’m hoping that I can find a theme statement that intertwines the two, but if not that’s okay. You might find yourself with a main theme and then maybe a few sub themes. That’s totally fine and normal and good! Don’t freak out.
  4. Your initial theme work is not going to be super, super deep.¬†With each revision you will go deeper and deeper into the theme and you will find new ways to strengthen it. You may even add a sub theme in the final revision! Don’t worry if you feel like your early theme work is shallow. It probably is. This is what revisions are for.
  5. Theme is important to any book. Any genre. It’s the thing that makes a book stick with you. It is the thing that makes a story timeless. It takes a book from a fun story to something meaningful. It pushes it from like to love. You may need other tools to plan your action book or your mystery book. I’m not saying all you need are the thoughts I’ve laid out here. But you can not write a meaningful book without theme. Please don’t overlook this important step in your writing.

And that’s all I’ve got! I hope this has been helpful and I hope you feel more inspired than confused!

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Happy writing!

Amanda Rawson Hill