1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Should the plot always match up with the theme?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Link the Writer, Jan 7, 2016.

    Something just occurred to me about my Colonial mystery story: the theme is basically the question: 'what does liberty mean', but the plot of the book seems to be in direct conflict. To sum up: my MC goes to help a deformed outcast rescue a friend of hers who was kidnapped. The theme explores what liberty means to women, the poor, slaves, etc. I'm not sure what a story about a blind tavern kid helping a deformed girl stage a rescue operation has to do with the theme. I'll think on it, but damn, seems kind of off.

    This raised an interesting question for me, though: should the plot and theme always match up? What happens if they seem to deviate from each other; does that destroy the overall quality of the work? If the plot of your story is about love and redemption, but the plot has the MC rejecting that for the villain, does that work? I suppose there can be inversions of the theme here and there but I'm curious as to your thoughts.
     
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  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Um, to me that is kind of a circular question. If you have made up a theme before a plot, of course sometimes they are in conflict. If the plot is there before you can define a theme then you can define the theme to the plot. I tried to do the same thing with my WIP in the very beginning, defined a theme and then the story developed. But I have never set it in stone ie I was prepared to tell the story as it wanted to be told, and not adjust it to an abstract theme.

    If the theme is that important to you, you can always tell another story after this one, where the theme comes out of the storyline and not the other way around. But that is just my approach :)
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've always been of the mind that a story's theme isn't always determined by the author. The author has a story to tell, tells it ...and what it 'means' (its theme) is determined by the readers.

    In fact, I prefer when the theme isn't too obvious, and it's only upon a great deal of reflection that it emerges. In your case, @Link the Writer , I reckon it will emerge close enough to your predetermined theme, if you keep it in mind as you write. What your characters say, think and how they behave will show what liberty means to them.
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see themes like flavors. Adding new flavors can be a wonderful idea if the flavors compliment each other. Like beans and rice! But if they don't. Well then you have ketchup on a mint cookie as far as I am concerned.

    I hope that anology sums up my idea. :)
     
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  5. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I think it has potential in that the disabilities could stand in for any number of things that would appear to hold people back from accomplishment. The pairing of the two characters could be seen as referring to the freedom to form voluntary associations to pursue any objective, including others' liberty.

    I don't think it's off at all. Could turn out quite nicely.
     
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  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Keeping @jannert's excellent observations in mind, I would suggest that your dilemma stems from having cast the question too narrowly. By "women, the poor, slaves, etc." what you are really saying is, "What does liberty mean to those who are denied, for whatever reason, the ability to exercise it?" And I think the story of a blind tavern kid helping a deformed girl stage a rescue operation is an excellent way to explore it. I already want to read it.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, I think I'm starting to understand it now. It's not so much that the theme itself is blatantly obvious and 'beat-you-about-the-head', but it's told through the actions and dialogue of the characters. In my story, it's what liberty means to my disabled characters, what it means to the people my MC meets and befriends.

    @GuardianWynn - I like the analogy, and so would my MC. :p “Sometimes certain flavors don't work, so you've got to try something different.”

    @EdFromNY - Thank you. That's what I was trying to say. ’What does liberty mean for those who are not basically white, cisgendered, heterosexual, Christian, rich males with no physical or mental impairments.’ Basically, imagine Thomas Jefferson if he were blind. Think he'd have gotten as far as he had in our world if he couldn't see? Not likely.

    <cracks knuckles> Then I shall get to work immediately! :D
     
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  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Let me know if you need a beta-reader. :read:
     
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  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Will do! :D
     

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