children's writer

Your Novel's Theme

Feb 6, 2013
As you may or may not have heard, I'm currently reading Writing Irresistible Kidlit By Mary Kole. And it's definitely a book I'd recommend to any and every kidlit writer. Currently I'm on Chapter Five (Character), which seems to be the longest chapter in the book. However, for today's post I'm going to backtrack to Chapter Three - What's The Big Idea?

So like weeks ago I'm reading Mary's book, practically inhaling the first few pages, until I'm finally at the very last section of Chapter Two -Themes and Big Ideas In Young Adult. Now I don't know about you guys, but I'd never given much thought to themes until this book. Yes, I feel guilty even admitting it. So I read through the last two pages of Chapter Two, but it was what was said in the very first paragraph that led me to believe that somehow I'd managed to leave out a key element in my novel: the theme.

In this paragraph, Mary Writes:
"When you know the teen experience and can place yourself in your target readers' experience, you're that much more likely to write a book that resonates with them on a deeper, thematic level." 
The thing is I had no idea what I was trying to say with my novel. All I could say was it's about a girl and her family. That's it. It made me really nervous. And as I entered Chapter Three of Writing Irresistible Kidlit, I realized that it would be best I figured it out. Fast!

In Chapter Three Mary encourages you to ask yourself  why you'd written the story in the first place, the questions you'd like to ask and explore about life, and the insights about human nature that inspired you to write your book in the first place.

She adds:
"Every book has something important to say. Every lasting novel has an important theme, explores a relevant human truth, and says something about being alive."
After reading that I took to the writing forums and read posts where other writers discussed the themes in their novels because it is okay to have more that one. I scanned my own novel for any hint of theme and tried to recall what sparked the idea. I was obsessed. It's silly now that I think about it, me not knowing the point of my own novel. 

And after a while of thinking my novel would go nowhere if I, the author, didn't even know what I was trying to say, I then read two lines spoken by my main character that finally made me go AHA! I'd found my themes. I'd somehow written them in there without even realizing. 
This isn't to say that you should ever preach or try to teach a lesson, but it is a good idea to keep your theme(s) in mind because they are larger than life! For more tips on writing, make sure to visit Mary Kole's blog if you haven't already. 

Do you know your novel's theme? I'd love to hear more about it.
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