Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How To Use Theme In Writing Romance

Since I'm about to leap into a series of posts on integrating two big writing skills, worldbuilding and theme, I'm listing here previous posts involving discussions of Theme from various angles.

Theme is one of the items usually listed in English course final exams, or required in various English course papers.  In these posts, we've discussed the use of "theme" in a very different (perhaps opposite) way than it is approached in English courses.

A writer does the exact opposite of what a reader or literary analyst does when creating a story from scratch.  And so "theme" means, mechanically, something just a little different, but also the same, as it does in English courses.

If you can't identify a "theme" in a novel read for an English (or any other language) course, then you probably won't be able to handle it well when you write.

But if you're very good at identifying and discussing "theme" for Enlgish classes, you probably will have a really hard time using it the way a writer must. 

Language classes teach you to understand story on a conscious level, but writers for the most part, (not everyone!) need a much more unconscious understanding of the working parts of a story -- theme being one of those components. 

Theme is considered boring because it's all about philosophy, but CONFLICTING PHILOSOPHIES is what generates the kind of conflicting characters who live for generations in the classics.

To write a story with conflicting philosophies, a writer must understand both those philosophies from the point of view of a true-believer in those philosophies. 

That means, to be a productive commercial writer, you must be fully conversant in more than your own philosophy - you must be spokesman for opposing philosophies.  If your work is not to become repetitive (and boring), you must have mastery of at least two philosophies that are not your own (total of three) -- and then as you go on through life, you must acquire facility in many more philosophies from all kinds of points of view.

The subject of the following posts, taken together, can be summed up as "How to acquire and bespeak the advocacy of all kinds of philosophies that are not your own." 

But of course, in the process of walking this trail into other people's philosophies, your own grip on your own philosophy may become dislodged, you may experience uncertainty.  Keep notes.  That's what your characters must go through in any Romance novel -- Romance is mostly signified by transits of Neptune which often brings confusion as well as burning idealism, and the espousal of new philosophies.

People do fall in love, and convert to another religion in order to marry the love of their life -- then have further adventures in uncertainty because of that conversion.

It is really all about philosophy, and philosophy is the material we mine to discover themes that fuel the conflicts that Love must Conquer.

So here is a list of links to explore on the use and abuse of THEME in Romance:














And Part 3 of a 3-part analysis of a failed historical/romance trilogy

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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