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Ciji Ware | Can You Name That Theme
Uncategorized / February 8, 2010

I think perhaps one of the hardest things for a budding novelist to master is determining what the “through line” is and meaning of the book you are writing. In other words: what is its theme? I am not talking about the book’s “message,” though there certainly may be one by the time the story ends. Think, for a moment, about the Wizard of Oz. Sometimes there is a line in a book that states the theme loud-and clear, as when Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home!” That same theme also holds true for the film Apollo 13. At the heart of both stories is the idea that we humans long for and are hard-wired to want the safety and refuge of being in a familiar place, inhabited by the people we love. The simplest and most simplistic expression of the theme? “Home is where the heart is.” In my experience, however, I often don’t uncover the theme until I’m well into writing a new book. For instance, I was very nearly at the end of ISLAND OF THE SWANS before it dawned on me: this is a story about coping with nearly unbearable loss. My eighteenth Scottish heroine,…