Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Writing progress and thoughts on theme

New words today: 0 (on Moving a Mountain)
Words revised today: 2500 (on Alingard Variations aka Alphonse and the Assassin
Reason for stopping: Finished changing the POV of the opening and closing scenes from Alphonse's POV to Melanna's POV
Other: The story now has a theme!

We discussed theme a little while ago on rasfc. Mulling it over since, it dawned on me that my successful stories (assuming success can be judged by a sale) all have a theme. I didn't consciously put one there, at least not in the first two, but with hindsight they undeniably have a theme that I can point to and say that that's what the story is about, over and above what actually happens to the characters.

Mulling things over a bit more, I realised that the two short stories I've been trying to sell (without success) don't have a theme.

My novels seem to automatically acquire a theme or themes without any effort on my part, but it seems there's a flaw in my short story generating process and theme is often omitted.

So I took a long hard look at the two stories currently in submission and dumped one of them in a newly created folder called Virtual Trunk. I think I may have to write Witch's Cat off as The One In Which I Learned To Do A Decent Omni, resign myself to it just being a practice piece and give up trying to sell it. Alphonse and the Assassin, on the other hand, seemed salvageable.

There were a couple of problems with it, other than it not having a theme. Melanna gets out of the obligation to kill Alphonse far too easily (as a critiquer commented). Also I just felt uneasy about her being an assassin. Alphonse changes and becomes a far better person, but Melanna would have been a hardened killer by the end.

The answer was obvious. The theme is change and so they both change the course of their lives. It only took a bit of tweaking to make the commission to kill Alphonse into Melanna's final assignment from Assassin College. Deciding that he ought to be allowed to live means she fails to graduate, can rethink her career plans and end up as a bodyguard instead. I also thought that Alphonse's POV might not be appealing to younger readers (ie those not already middle-aged!), so I did a POV change on a couple of the scenes to do them from Melanna's viewpoint.

I think the story reads much better now. I will put it through Critters and see what people think before trying to submit it anywhere else.

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