Boring self-indulgent post about my writing process


“You discover your themes as you write, and in doing so,

you might not even be immediately aware of what you have set in motion.”

—John Dufresne

Week 6 in the novel writing program (John Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?) was about themes.

g4640Dufresne maintains that theme is not where you should start, because “it ought not to be propaganda… You have nothing to preach, but a world to explore.”

If you want to expound, write something else. Essays, articles, sermons– anything but a novel. You want to rant? “Save it for your blog,” he says.

If you can’t (or shouldn’t) start with a theme, then why is there an entire week devoted to it? Because themes emerge from the characters and setting as you write about them.
The prompts this week seemed to be directing me to explore my personal positions, but since I covered a lot of my own stuff a few weeks ago, I chose to answer the questions from my characters’ points of view. I wrote about:


  • what each character believes to be true
  • how they would respond if the opposite were discovered to be true
  • how their jobs influence their world view, speech patterns, metaphors
  • secrets they are hiding
  • what might happen if those secrets were uncovered
  • their fears
  • their desires.

So I didn’t exactly follow the program, and it’s possible (okay, probable) that not much of the week’s effort will appear in the finished novel. It still feels like pre-writing. But I do see some themes emerging, and a couple of them really surprised me. That was kind of exciting, and a little scary for this semi-control-freak.



What will I write next? I have no idea!


3 thoughts on “Boring self-indulgent post about my writing process”

  1. This seems like it’d be a difficult process for me, because I like to do the theme first and build my world around it. I think the pre-writing is so much harder than the actual writing. Once your mess of thoughts is organized, the book kind of writes itself! (Okay maybe not that easily…)


    1. I thought I had themes to start with, but they felt so contrived. It was awful. Doing it this way freaks me out because I don’t know what all the themes are going to be yet, but it’s forcing me to focus on the story, which hopefully is a good thing! You’ve got a great blog- thanks for following mine =)


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