I had no shortage of epiphanies at the ACFW conference. I thought I’d share these gold nuggets on my blog over the next several Mondays. The first gold nugget comes from James Scott Bell’s early-bird workshop.
What is the theme of your story?
Whether you know it beforehand or don’t discover it until after you finish writing doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can identify it. Basically, what is the life lesson your character learns at the end of the novel?
Once you’ve identified the theme, here’s a tip for making it more powerful:
Toward the beginning of your novel, find a place where your character can argue the opposite of the life lesson.
In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy learns “there’s no place like home.” But in the beginning of the movie, she doesn’t want to be home. Home is boring. Home is black and white. She wants to go somewhere beautiful and appealing. Somewhere with color. So she sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey learns that he doesn’t need to travel the world for his life to be significant. But in the beginning of the movie, we see him as a young boy, telling two girls how he’s going to go out exploring and travel the world.
Questions to Ponder: What about your novel? Does it have a theme? Is there a point where your character argues the opposite of what they learn? Can you think of more examples from movies or novels where characters argue the opposite of what they end up learning?