Theme—Day 33

The more I study theme, the more I realize the ideas an author wants to convey must be part of each element of the story.

At one point Maass calls the characters the author’s proxies. Then this:

Having something to say means having something for one’s characters to say (emphasis added).

Maass does not believe for one minute, though, that the characters can moralize any more than the author can. When discussing the need for restraint in delivering the message, he explains:

That means, as we have seen, keeping the message out of the mouth of the author and instead conveying it through the actions of a novel’s characters.

So the characters, as the author’s proxies, must be passionate and they must act:

They [characters in some of last century’s best-selling novels] are not diffident, deferential people. They are principled, opinionated and passionate. They do not sit on the sidelines. They act. Their inner fire fires us … Their beliefs inspire, their opinions linger in our mind and mingle with our own.

Here we have the need to craft both characters and plot with theme in mind. Otherwise how do we insure that a character faces a moral dilemma? Or cares about something deeply enough to be willing to make a sacrifice?

These are things, in my opinion, a writer must pay attention to early on if the theme is to be embedded within the story and not tacked on.

Published in: on May 9, 2006 at 2:17 pm  Comments (4)  
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