I’m writing a novel! In this post, I introduce the theme of my book.
So someone you know is writing a book.
“What’s it about?” is the normal first question you would ask that someone.
Now that I’m the writer in this scenario, there’s a different question that I wish people would ask: “What is the theme?”
The plot, in a way, is superficial. Like if you were being set up on a blind date, and you asked “what do they look like?” before inquiring about the person’s character. Attraction is necessary, of course, but it’ll only keep you engaged for so long if you don’t like what’s on the inside.
With a book, the cover catches our eye, the synopsis hooks us, the story reels us in. And the theme is the line— the invisible thread that strings us along through our journey. Don’t think too much about the fate of the fish in this analogy as I am now realizing that it is problematic.
The theme is the soul of a book. Better?
And just like falling in love with someone, a good theme will keep you enchanted from beginning to end, and leave you wanting more.
Introducing the theme of my book
In my story, I’m exploring a variation on the theme of change vs. tradition. There are the things we’re raised to do, and the things we are born to do. Sometimes these are one and the same, but more often, they are not.
Something happens when we come of age, and enter adulthood. We begin to question the truths that we’ve been raised to believe.
In this period of discovery, we’re given the chance to learn who we really are, at our core. For some of us, this happens in our teenage years, for others, not until further into adulthood.
Do you accept things as they’ve been presented to you? Or do you forge your own path?
Some of these truths are simply preferences that we’ve adopted from our upbringing that we gleefully carry into the future. For me, pasta on Sundays. That was a tradition worth keeping.
Other influences are more impactful and play a role in where you’ll live, or what kind of work you’ll do. At the age of 30, I realized that I wanted to live in a different part of the country. The decision to relocate was one of the most difficult I’ve ever made. You don’t just get up and move when your family and friends are all in one place— the place that everyone knows. But that’s what we did, and our lives changed for the better as a result of following that instinct.
Exploring possibility in the wake of freedom
In the story I’m writing, we follow the journeys of four college freshmen. Like many 18-year-olds, they arrive on campus, anxious to exercise their independence. But with that freedom comes a challenge: they must learn to think for themselves.
One by one, the characters begin to question their choices. Did they select the right major? Are they on the right path? Are they in the right place?
Do you remember feeling this way when you were 18 years old? Some of us never stop asking these kinds of questions. And after reading this story, I hope you’ll be inspired to ask more of them.