Every novel has a message. No matter what it is about, there is always something that the writer wants to say. That is what makes a story even more interesting to read, and as a writer, it makes the story even more interesting to write.
I highly recommend thinking about what you want to say before you grace the page with even a single word. Only because it saves time when editing. With the regular visits of new characters, saved time is a good thing.
The main thing you should ask yourself is: what do I want people to think about once they’ve put down my book? Then it’s just a matter of contemplating what events and characters you want to use to make people think about that. So the coming up with a message is actually the easy part. However, it is a lot easier now that you know what you’re working towards. And it’s also easier for your characters. Considering how we torture them already, it’s only the kind thing to do.
Let’s dive right in and play with words. Today’s words will involve something that goes by way too fast and that we can almost always use more of. Choose your scene and who knows, it might be spun into a novel.
Your character has suffered a great loss and has hit rock bottom. It is at that moment that a mysterious phone call during which someone describes an object that can give you powers to control time. It will be dangerous to retrieve it, but your character might be willing to risk it. Write this scene.
Your main characters suffers lapses in memory. He thinks he’s crazy, and so does everybody else. This changes when he gets attacked by an intruder and freezes time. The plot thickens when the intruder seems to have been sent by someone who knows about what he can do…and wants him dead. Write this scene.
Someone your character thought was dead, shows up. That’s not even the weird part. He claims to have travelled through time in order to give you an important message. Write this scene.
Like a carousel with haunting horses and dark chariots.
Some people might think that themes are unnecessary creativity stifling monsters that force you to actually think about your story and go deep, but since when are those bad things? There’s something to be said for just writing, and thinking can sometimes block you. However, there will be moments, especially at the start of a story, that your mind will block because you HAVEN’T thought about your story. Every character needs a main reason to do what they do and be who they are. It’s the same for the story itself. What drives the story? Including all its characters combined. It’s the base, the centre. Without that, the story won’t spin around.
I’ll give an example. At some point a writing bug caught me and I started working on a story involving a weird circus. I was inspired by an image and really wanted to create something wondrous to do that image justice. However, I was stuck after four pages. Why? Because of the theme. What was this story about? What did I want the characters to learn? To achieve? What was the point of it all? I’d put the curious girl and her fearful friend in the circus. They’d seen exotic animals without leashes, a mirror hall that showed strange reflections, and circus people that could give Lady Gaga a run for her money. But what was I going to do with them afterwards? I had just thrown them in there without instructions. Poor characters.
I find it difficult to think of a theme. I find it extremely difficult to think of where they are going. Yet, if I want to do my story justice (and I do), then I have to brainstorm on this. I have to figure them out. I have to put the story and its characters on that sofa and ask them psychologist-y questions, travel deep into their minds with pickaxes because that is kind of what writers do. And isn’t it wonderful?