I was reminded this morning, when reading someone else’s blog post about themes (http://yamuses.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/identifying-your-storys-theme.html), that I’ve been struggling a bit with a theme for ‘The Lion and Unicorn Quest’. Well, struggling a lot. It’s worrying me because in my experience my novels are better if I start out with a theme which I can then keep in mind all the way through, relating various parts of the plot to it. At the moment I just have a sort of scenario instead of a theme.
My favourite of my own novels is ‘A Reformed Character’ because I started with the theme of ‘can people change?’ and had it in the back of my mind as I wrote. I found this helped me to focus on whether one of the central characters had changed, and also to apply it to one or two of the others. As this was so useful I tried to do it again with ‘Death at the Happiness Club’ too, except that in this case the theme wasn’t so clearcut – it was something like ‘your happiness isn’t in anyone else’s gift’.
As well as being invaluable at the writing stage, I find having a theme in mind helps enormously when it comes to constructing a blurb or description for the finished novel. You can start with one sentence that states the theme, and work from there. It can sometimes help with the cover too, although it didn’t actually help with that aspect of ‘A Reformed Character’ since I had trouble finding an image that illustrated the theme adequately.
I suppose in a sense my theme for ‘The Lion and Unicorn Quest’ is ‘can people leave the past behind them?’ However, it has turned out that I don’t actually answer this question by the final chapter and I want to continue with it into the next novel in the series. I suppose in that case it can be a series theme. That leaves me with only a part-share in a theme for this particular novel! Should I be worried? (no need to reply!)