Monday, June 18, 2012

Themes in the Outback

10 Best Pixar Characters: Pixar Anglepoise Lamp
Pixar's Anglepoise Lamp. Public Domain

Have you read the Pixar Story Rules (one version) yet?

Rule #3 resonates with me. “Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.”

This is so true.

A lot of writers start with theme, and in Christian fiction that theme probably includes a scripture. Theme and scripture can keep a writer on track while getting the story on paper. There’s nothing wrong with doing things this way if it works for you. But I’ve discovered that most of the time I don’t know what my characters’ issues are deep down, or what drives the story and theme, until I’m all done. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King says that stories are like fossils and it’s a writer’s job to unearth them. I’m paraphrasing here, of course. Sounds like he just starts writing and sees where the story will take him.

While I usually plot my story out before I start writing, much of the plot can change as I allow the characters room to live and breathe. To come alive on paper. This is especially true in each of the four novellas in Oregon Outback.
In A Love Remembered, I never knew that Darcy would find the answer to a deep spiritual truth while stuck in the cold, stone places of her greatest fear, or that Jonas would have to give up what he wanted the most.  

In A Love Kindled, what happens when a crotchety cowboy and a soft-hearted sheriff who wants to be tough come together? They can’t get along. That’s what. But God can use the shady dealings of cattle rustlers to bring people together by shining the light on who they really are deep down. Sometimes people need a chance to look inside and see beyond the cracks. A chance to get to know each other. I needed a chance to get to know this story before I saw that as part of the theme.

While writing A Love Risked, I learned that Lucas Love anchors his life on 2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I discovered there’s still one thing he’s afraid of. That will reveal itself soon enough when you read it.

In A Love Recovered, Justin Love is a bounty hunter and he’s running from his past, but God has things under control when He sends Justin back to Oregon to face his fears, and the three brothers that he hasn't seen in a long while.

All of the above I learned while writing or when I finished writing that first draft. Then I went back to strengthen the themes and hopefully make them resonate. I hope the Love brothers’ stories speak to you and maybe connect with what’s going on in your life some way.

I didn’t put up my devotional post last Friday because I ended up attending an awesome church camp, so I didn’t get a chance. Maybe today’s post can serve as a two-for-one—a little bit of devotion along with my post about themes in the outback.
The idea that you don't know what the story is really about until you're at the end can be applied to life, too. How often do you look back on specific events in your life and think, “Wow, that’s what that was all about!”  Looking back you have more clarity about what God was doing or how He worked things together for your good.

I know I've done this on numerous occasions. I can’t help but believe that’s how it will be at the end of my life, as well. I can look back and see how God has woven in a strong theme throughout my life, and I pray that my life’s theme will shine with God’s glory and handiwork.

On a much less spiritual side note: Oregon Outback releases on JULY 1st,  which is right around the corner. Pre-order your copy today at your local Christian bookstore or your favorite online shopping. You can click on the book in the sidebar of this blog to take you there.


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