Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Weekend Writer: Theme And Climax

Last month I did a Weekend Writer post on theme, directing you to material on the difference between subject and theme and theme being about meaning. 

Today I’m directing you to K.M. Weiland’s post What Is the Role of Theme in a Story’s Climax? at Helping Writers Become Authors. This is something I’ve never thought about. Not for a moment. I’m probably the only writer in the English-speaking world who didn’t get much from Robert McKee’s Story, which Weiland refers to. However, she raises some interesting and potentially helpful points.

  • Theme makes a story more important than just what happens in it. 
  • “If your theme is a question, then the climax is the answer.” Sometimes theme is a question. Is there such a thing as a just war? for instance. Is there any hope that we can do our jobs and connect with other human beings? (I’m thinking Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad  books with that one.) How should we live our lives? (Saving thePlanet & Stuff) If your theme is a question and you want to make the climax answer that, it seems as if that would be extremely helpful.
  • It would be helpful because, Weiland says, “Creating a thematically sound climax involves much more than the climax itself. In order to create a climax that resonantly answers your story’s thematic question, you first have to build an entire story that asks the right question.”  Meaning, I think, that if you know your theme, and you have a climax in mind that will support that theme, you can build the rest of the story upon that. 
This is dependent, though, on knowing your theme. Many times I’ve read about writers who said they don’t know their themes until the book is done. I certainly didn’t give any thought to theme with my early books.

Theme can’t help you during the writing process, if you don’t know it at that point.

No comments: