I’m finishing up lesson eight of Holly’s How To Revise Your Novel course today. It’s a fantastic lesson, pulling together everything that’s gone on in the lessons before to give you a clear picture of your story the way it is now, with its biggest strengths and weaknesses, and to give you a focus for the upcoming changes you’ll be making to the story.
At the moment, I’m working on theme. The basic premise of this story is that Avinash, a young tiger guard, breaks the clan’s most sacred law and eats a human, whom tigers are sworn to protect. This not only sparks a war between human and tiger, it also plunges him deep into depression, questioning his self worth and existence.
In the end, however, he finds redemption in the love of one particular human girl. That’s the reason I wanted to tell the story – for Avinash, to show him that he really was still loveable, and worthwhile. So naturally, I thought that was the theme: the no sin is truly unforgivable, that there is some good in everyone worth saving.
But thanks to this lesson, which requires me among other things to write a page about my theme, where I missed the mark in the story, and where I hit it, I’ve realised something very important. These are only subthemes.
My real theme, the theme that all my key characters play out, is this idea of love and self sacrifice. Avinash kills a human to satisfy his own needs; in the end, he sacrifices himself to save a human, putting their needs before his. Other characters in the story demonstrate this over and over – or blatantly refuse to accept the idea, depending on the character.
Avinash’s redemption is important, but the decision that leads him there is the one to put other’s needs before his own; to realise that self-sacrifice is the highest form of love.
Interesting how we can say something through a story that we never set out to intend. But really, that’s why we write; as the quote by somebody-famous-whose-name-I-forget goes, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”