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Leicester - Themes

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Joined: 14 Aug 2005
Posts: 205
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:03 am    Post subject: Leicester - Themes Reply with quote

James discussed how changing how he works themes into his books has changed his writing.

At the start of his writing the themes were developed as the story was written, while with the Ascendants books the theme was developed first.

James uses a scriptwriting technique of writing a one line summary of a book to describe the main theme. An example he used was the one liner for Tootsie, "A man becomes a woman to become a better man."

James explained that although a book should ideally have an overriding main theme it should also have lots of smaller themes throughout the story.

Malop asked a question about readers spotting themes that James hadn't thought of. James admitted this did happen often and an author could either take credit for it or tell the truth Wink
Member and President of the Will Begman Appreciation Society.
Fantasycon 2005 Walsall Attendee
Fantasycon 2006-2009 Nottingham Attendee
Fantasycon 2010 Nottingham (stopped over for lunch)
Fantasycon 2011 Brighton (Is that in France?)
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Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Posts: 1081
Location: Easington, UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked the 'one liner' idea James described. Generally, I've never thought of myself as one who would go out of my way to deliberately include themes in a story. Too often, when I read themed stories, the writers seem to be going out of their way a little too much in order to make a point. Over and over. Again and again. Bah! I like making up my own mind.

But, after hearing James out (this is where you can tell I'm no writing student), the point he made that by having themes behind the story as enhancements rather than 'in your face' dogma (anyone every read Terry Goodkind? Razz ) it can add layers to the story. Without themes, Lord of the Rings would have been a simple journey from The Shire to Mt Doom, the end. With the themes (friendship, small guy makes big, heroism etc), the basic premise became something much more and something deeper and, for me, now that I think about it, a richer reading experience.

So, yes, by starting out with a simple premise in mind, you can really add layers and depth to it by using this little 'one liner' idea which as James said is used a lot in screenplay writing. You can have, and are probably better off by having, multiple themes which you can explore. Once again, using an exmaple given by James when describing 'Demonstorm': "Band of heroes saves world for ungrateful public" (not an exact quote). I think the idea of just having a few of these tag-line theme ideas would be beneficial to a writer trying to add more to a story.

But, that's not to say it's necessary. If you'd prefer to write the story as a story and have the themes develop as you go, go for it. There's no reason why that shouldn't work and why the work should, as it develops on its own, finds its own depth.
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