1. vineet
    Offline

    vineet New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0

    Do we need to think of a core theme first, before actually starting to write?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by vineet, Dec 3, 2014.

    Thanks to some "Quality replies" in my last thread- Pantser vs Plotter; I am finally able to identify myself as a pantser.

    However, I must say, it is quite unsettling to know that I am a sort of a pantser who doesn't even bother to think upon any theme in particular. I spin my words after deciding the genre. Sometimes not even that.
    It's like some unknown force has possessed me (though I know it's my subconscious) and, my fingers respond.
     
  2. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    So wait you just write randomly from word to word?

    I mean I get just going with a theme but I can't imagine starting without these things.

    How do you write? I mean how do you come up with a idea for writing if you just random start? Do you review and analysis the first thing you write and go from there?
     
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    5,131
    Generally themes emerge as you go, especially if you're a plotter.

    It sounds like you've started a fair bit of work, if you're able to speak about how you "sometimes" do things one way rather than another. Are you finishing your work? Are you able to find themes in the finished work?
     
  4. vineet
    Offline

    vineet New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just plot short random scenes and try to connect the dots, but all in vain.
    Till date I haven't come close to finish anything except for short stories and poems. It so happens that my interest gets exhausted and I jump from my WIP to something else.

    P.S
    I am talking about writing Novels here.
     
  5. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    Just to clarify.
    Could you give a more detailed example of your entire writing process please?
     
  6. Chinspinner
    Offline

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,918
    Likes Received:
    1,018
    Location:
    London, now Auckland
    I am with Wynn here, without a plot if you even manage to connect the dots they will be unsatisfying. I will come away remembering that X and Y were not resolved and Z came to an abrupt halt in a lazy way.
     
  7. vineet
    Offline

    vineet New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sure,

    I will make you a nice tutorial:-

    1) Think of your key/main character (it can change as the story demands) . Imagine his/her appearance in your head.
    a) Think multiple characters that should be in your scene.

    2) Think of a location- Train, bus, valley, street...anything goes.

    3) Think of random things we do in life- eating, smoking, talking on the phone, etc.
    a) multiple random activities could be co-related or scheduled one after another.


    4) Think of his/her friends, relatives, spouse, etc
    BEGIN WRITING

    5) create some controversial/ emergency situation; again it can vary a lot. You gotta think of something unique in here.
    EMBED the situation in your scene. The trick is, it should appeal to YOU.

    6) End the chapter after the situation has passed, or leave the threads untangled if the situation is quite complex.

    Create another scene...
     
  8. jannert
    Online

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,320
    Location:
    Scotland
    If you're going to be a serious novelist, this is something you need to make yourself stop doing. Stop jumping from WIP to WIP and finishing none.

    Stick with one of them. If you don't have a theme, figure one out. Try one out. Think about what you've written, even if it's just a short scene or paragraph and think: okay, where can I take this? What happened to cause this? What happens next. You MUST do this if you're going to ever get a story finished and published. Every writer has to do this.

    The big mistake is thinking your wonderfully plotted finished story is just going to spring into your head and onto your computer screen if you dabble long enough. It won't.

    If you don't have the patience to stick to a story and work it out—either by plotting ahead of time with outlines etc, or just pantsing along till something emerges—then you'd probably best stick to writing poetry or very short flash fiction. And those things need work as well, but maybe not such a sustained effort on one particular piece.

    Walking away from every story as soon as it loses its first initial creative impulse is the worst bad habit a writer can get into. It's a killer. It means you will never finish anything. I don't think too many readers are keen to sit reading fragments that the author didn't bother to finish—so even self-publishing isn't the answer. That's you dabbling in writing, writing only for yourself. If that's what you want to do, fair enough. But just waiting for the perfect story to grab and sustain you throughout the writing process just isn't going to happen. You have to make it happen if you want readers to share your efforts.
     
    Okon, Gawler and vineet like this.
  9. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    I think we're confusing Plot and Theme here.

    The Theme of "Cat on a hot tin roof" was mendacity...the plot involved the scheming that went on.

    A theme is useful, and can lead to a really meaningful piece of work. A plot is essential, as Chinspinner points out.
     
    Renee J and BayView like this.
  10. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    You do think! Yes!
    I do all of this, the difference is I don't just jump from one to another hoping they will connect. What I do is grow them. So like one of my characters the moment I made for him was a sacred sword, him drawing it for the first time in ten years unleash its great power something he vowed never to unleash again. I made this sense fairly independent and I liked it. Instead of just leaving off at the scene I grew it. Like if this scene happened, what built to it. Like why did he vow not to draw the sword? What did it do? What happened now that he broke the vow?

    Your scenes are seeds, ready and filled with potential. Stop collecting them and grow a few ;)

    Does that help?
     
  11. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    If you can't think of a plot, crib one.

    Shakespeare did it with Romeo and Juliet. Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters takes something from Shakespeare's Macbeth..

    It's not the story that's unique, it's the way you write it.
     
    daemon likes this.
  12. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    I think is problem isn't a lack of direction, it is exhaustion from going in to many directions. lol.
    Seems more like he needs to learn how to stick to one and keep the passion up while doing it.
     
  13. Chinspinner
    Offline

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,918
    Likes Received:
    1,018
    Location:
    London, now Auckland
    What the hell are you talking about? The theme was burnt feet and the plot was finding away off that tin roof. Have you ever read the novel?
     
    daemon likes this.
  14. mad_hatter
    Offline

    mad_hatter Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2014
    Messages:
    196
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    England
    Vineet – in your ‘tutorial’, you don’t seem to have even considered the concept of a plot. People standing around, doing random, everyday things isn’t a story. It’s no wonder you get bored of your own work and just move on. You’re creating you characters; that’s a fun part. But you’re not giving them anything to do. That’s where your plot will come in – and it should pretty much be first thing you think of. You may decide you want to tell the tale of an ancient monster that besieges a small town, you may decide you want to write about a failed mission to Mars, you might want to write a romance about two people who both attend a cake decorating class. Having a plot in mind gives purpose to your characters and will make writing them into existence a lot easier.

    The theme/s can then be allowed to form organically, through the actions of your characters and the events surrounding them.
     
  15. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    5,131
    I agree that we've got confusion about plot vs. theme.

    And given that the post seems to be about lack of plot, I think we're looking at a plotter vs pantser issue, with the added information that the current system, pantsing, isn't working for this writer.

    Now, plotting may not work either. But it seems like it might be worth trying!

    The other thing to consider is that maybe you thought writing would be easy, and now you're finding out that it's hard. That's going to be true regardless of plotting, pantsing, or any other approach. Writing is hard work. You've got to put in the effort if you want the results.
     
  16. Keitsumah
    Offline

    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    3,279
    Likes Received:
    285
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I usually don't just worry about themes -i write in a similar manner that you do. Sometimes a story just grabs me by the scruff and my fingers type whatever they may, and I go back later to be shocked by my own writing (namely because sometimes i subconciously have a plot planned out and go back to change something, only to realize it already supports the plot change...)

    Plot, however, is very different than theme. My theme would focus partly on the fact that not everyone is who you make them out to be, and that your actions can affect others inadverdently, just as other's actions can affect you. My plot, however, involves a girl's home being destroyed by giant wolf shape-shifters and her promise for revenge.

    Oh, also another theme is that promises, in cases where they should be, can be broken. (MC makes a promise to destroy an entire race but then learns that she can't do it, both realistically and because she loves one of them, and another character has made a promise to now-dead parents that he would protect the MC no matter what, and goes mad because of his failure, even though she still lives) Still trying to work out the kinks in that theme :dry:
     
  17. Wynter
    Offline

    Wynter Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2014
    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Australia
    I always consider my theme before the plot. I wonder what I want to write about, once I find something I like, oftentimes it tends to be morality then I find I'm able to tailor a plot to help me 'convey'(?) my theme I guess you could say?

    The theme for me helps create and shape the story.
     
  18. peachalulu
    Online

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I sometimes have a theme before I have a plot. Sometimes it's very basic, other times it's a little more concrete. For Not Pink it was abuse. For Worms of Wicher Woo it was creative ownership. For Tinsel it's self discovery. But themes can change as you write - especially if you're a pantser. Prove your Y's theme of cowardice came about as I wrote. I didn't go in with that theme in mind. And Moonshot's themes, one being age discrimination, came about as I was writing as well.

    Theme for me helps to shape the characters - their motives, and the plot. Without the abuse in Not Pink - the story is merely a vignette about a robot and his owner. With the abuse it gives the story a drive.

    But it can go either way actually. You can be more plot focused (which can actually have built in themes - if someone is avenging someone - voila - your theme is revenge ), or you can think of a theme or you can go over your first draft and discover the themes emerging. Either way works.
     
  19. Bjørnar Munkerud
    Offline

    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    140
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Considering you're a pantser it's natural that you don't think of these things beforehand, especially considering the "possession" thing. You'd have to rethink your entire career if you're seriously considering to start thinking of core themes before you right in my mind. In fact I'm not convinced that, in general, it's such a good idea to have a core theme at all, though this does depend somewhat on what you consider a theme to be, and this is coming from a plotter. Decide if you're writing to inform or to entertain and stick strictly to one or the other. If you do come across a core theme as you're writing, however, you should probably stop writing for just a moment and decide if you should take the opportunity to establish a theme and, if so, whether or not you'll need to go back and rewrite what you've already written and, if so, when you're going to do that. Just don't arbitrarily make up your mind about this before you write; that's the way of the plotter.
     
    vineet likes this.
  20. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    252
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    It's impossible to write a story without having a theme already in mind. There's been some cases where I randomly start writing a story, but even then I still have a theme in mind while writing. I applaud you if you can write without a theme, because that's literally impossible to do.
     
  21. Renee J
    Offline

    Renee J Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    214
    Location:
    Reston, VA
    I thought the theme was something you had to try and find in a Literature class and, then, it turned out to be completely different from what the author had in mind.
     
    Okon likes this.
  22. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    5,131
    What are you basing this statement on? Why is it impossible?
     
  23. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    252
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    I guess it's my own personal perspective, but I personally find it difficult to create a story without having a theme in mind. I guess what I meant to say was you're always thinking about a theme even when you don't think you are. Every story even if the theme isn't clear has a theme.
     
  24. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    First I think there is a confusion on terms here. I don't know exact definitions so I am not going to pretend too.

    But theme, plot and or idea. These are the basis of us writers.
    So as analogy when I hear writing without thinking of these, it is like hearing a painter say, "Yeah I just shut my eyes, spin the wheel of paint and randomly grab a color while my eyes are still shut and fling it at the canvas. I am the greatest!" I mean obviously the amount of effort before can vary. A painter can be inspired by a night sky or spend a month thinking about an emotion. We writers are no different but hearing someone took no time and just randomly free wrote going in random directions just shocks us all right?

    Though the opening poster later admitted he does apply some thought even if little and that his trouble is more staying with one thought.
     
  25. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    5,131
    Well, those three words have pretty significantly different meanings.

    And usually we writers try to really understand the words we use and chose just the right ones for a given purpose. Otherwise, you're just kind of closing your eyes and throwing paint on the canvas, right?

    Also, no, I'm not shocked to hear that someone is taking no time and just randomly free writing - that's pretty much what 'free writing' is. Now, usually it's a pre-writing exercise, but one of the reasons it's useful is that it can open up creativity and produce good ideas, which can then be built on.
     
    vineet likes this.

Share This Page