Theme—Day 28

I want to return to what I learned from re-reading the section on theme in Donald Maass’s book Writing the Breakout Novel (Writer’s Digest Books). I found the following especially informative:

Another secret of conveying passionate opinions: They are always stronger in the mouths of characters than in the prose of the author. They are also more effective when characters have a reason to express them; better still when they express them through concrete action.

Reminds me of a line or two from that Bertrand fellow. Also sheds light on the importance of character motivation. I mean, I’ve known that characters need reasons behind what they do. Anyone who has had any instruction from Randy Ingermanson has learned about Motivation-Reaction Units.

But according to Maass, this motivation needs to be tied with the character delivering, preferably through action, the passionate thematic opinion.

I’ll build on that more tomorrow, but let me end with a few more Maass statements:

Strong novelists have strong opinions. More to the point, they are not at all afraid to express them …

Stories lacking fire cannot fire readers.

Cleave to your convictions. Cherish them. Let them stoke your story with an energy that will drive it like the giant pistons of a steam locomotive.

Published in: on May 2, 2006 at 12:48 pm  Comments (2)  
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