Author Guest Post: Lynn Voedisch

The Question of Theme: How to Project It

One of the problems most serious authors face is trying to write a book with a theme that blends seamlessly with a plot so that readers get the deeper point of the book while still being entertained. It’s not always easy. If you write an entrancing plot with a minimal theme, here and there a reader will like to go no further than plot-deep into the material and thus, often misses the point of the book. Other times, the writer will makes such an effort to make the theme unavoidable that the reader will feel hit over the head, and a bit offended by the author’s effort.

So, the balance has to be a delicate one. The plot, as every writer knows, can be difficult enough. One must create a storyline that follows a dramatic arc that doesn’t crest too early, lest the writer lose the tension and build-up. There must be a revelatory ending that finishes the book (also known as the denouement), and it all should end on a slight beat of wisdom. Happy endings are not necessary, but something should be learned by the end of the book.

The theme can be woven in by various ways. In my book, “The God’s Wife,” a tale of ancient Egypt, I tell the story of a two women who share one split soul, but I don’t just come out and announce that fact. Instead, I alternate stories between the two women, and have them discover things about themselves that seem similar to the reader (both have overbearing and cold mothers, both have loving boyfriends but interfering would-be suitors, both are dancers, both lack confidence at times to tackle their jobs, etc.). I also throw in chapters where they consider the nature of the soul, and their own feelings of lack or emptiness. I tie it to the events that are happening around them, so these scenes don’t seem out of place. However, it should seem obvious (at least to me!) that the two women don’t feel whole and wonder what is missing in their lives.

Let me say that I’ve been thrilled with the acceptance and appreciation my novel has gotten from all quarters: reviews, personal comments, Amazon comments, Facebook comments, even discussions with two radio announcers who loved “The God’s Wife.” But there have been a few, just a few, who seemed to read the book for plot only and missed the whole split-soul theme entirely.

Was it my fault? I don’t know. As a writer, I can only saw I sweated to put in as many clues and commentary as possible to lead the reader to the right place. It’s only if the reader understands the spit-soul concept that the ending makes any sense! So, if it’s vital that I did my work correctly.However, if I put any more street signs up saying, “beware, the two protagonists share a split soul,” I’d be beating the reader over the head and belittling his or her interpretive powers.

Is there a happy medium, or am I just worrying too much? After all, there’s always someone who doesn’t “get” my favorite movie or can’t sit through the music of my favorite composer, Mozart.

Let me know in the comments section if you have any ideas for getting readers to read beyond the plot.

Lynn Voedisch

My review of Lynn’s book will be up later today.

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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