Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Sunny Today

A novel without a theme is like a day with no sunshine.  It's sunny today.  There is joy in Mudville.  Bon Secour has a theme.

I finished reading Inside Story by Dara Marks two months ago.   Since then, I've read it two more times.  This is an awesome book showing how the best structure is driven by the theme.  How all action is derived from theme.  I've been writing extensive notes, and, I've struggling to develop a theme for Bon Secour

It hasn't been an easy path.  I've probably explored and rejected a half a dozen themes.  And what I have may wiggle a little more in the future.

One of the difficulties involved the decision to make the villain the Protagonist and the everyman the Antagonist.  This switch, suggested by my Writers Group, turned everything upside down from my original idea.  If I were to tell the story of their conflict equally, then my theme for each character had to be same because as Marks teaches, you can only have one theme in a story.

Multiple themes, one for the Protagonist and one for the Antagonist, were relatively easy.  Fitting them into the same theme was more difficult.  My resulting theme isn't profound, but I think it is universally accepted.

Ta Ta, the theme for Bon Secour is:

You can have anything you want if you are willing to pay the price for it.

  • Bob Lee's (the Protagonist) "A" story is the quest to become wealthy and powerful as a succesful drug smuggler.
  • Matt's (the Antagonist) "A" story is to rescue his sister from the drug smuggler (Bob Lee).
  • Bob Lee's "B" story (fatal flaw) is that he cannot see anything wrong in what he does.  Bob Lee must accept his good side and become complete if he is to attain his success.
  • Matt's "B" story (fatal flaw) is that he cannot forgive himself of past actions and behavior.  Matt must accept his bad side and become complete if he is to overcome his obstacles.
  • Bob Lee and Matt share similar "C" stories.  Each is unable to connect with others.  Ultimately, this isn't working for either of them.  Matt changes and is able to open his heart.  Bob Lee rejects change and clings to his fatal flaw and rejects love.
Twelve sentences.  Doesn't look like much, but, it's the culmination of two months serious thinking and two full days of trying to get it on paper. 

Themes are so much easier to read about than to actually do.

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