Use Writer’s Block: Developing Theme

Got writer’s block? Congratulations. You might  have discovered a theme for your book. After all, writer’s block highlights what is important to you and what stands in the way. The theme of your book is a unifying message.
Theme can be tied to inner or outer conflict and its inevitable/best/worst resolution. Theme should be something personally important to you since it will be explored in many ways in your book.

English: Early morning mist on Barby Road Phot...
English: Early morning mist on Barby Road Photo taken about 8.00 am (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, if you are going to use the fears and/or needs behind your latest writer’s block as a theme in your book, you also need to decide what message you want to send.
One way to explore theme is through symbols. What is a symbol of your writer’s block that you could use throughout your WIP? A wall or set of scales comes immediately to mind. Or a dam. Or the phases of the moon. Mist that obscures the goal. You can alter the image as the main character learns the lesson of the theme.
Theme is also often reflected in multiple characters. Give different characters (especially your protagonist and antagonist) important facets of your theme. Give one character a “good” outcome (based on the message you are communicating) and another character a “bad” outcome. Show a character living life unconscious of — but influenced by — an aspect of your theme. Have another character who consciously grapples with it. A character who agrees with your theme. A character who would argue with your theme.
Incorporating the issues behind your latest writer’s block into your WIP forces you to think about those issues but also lets you explore the different paths the issues can take. You will probably see some outcomes as “good” and some outcomes as “bad”, you might see a single outcome as “inevitable”, or you may decide that the conflict cannot be resolved.
Your theme may be “other people’s opinions don’t matter”, “[something] is possible through hard work”, “fear is necessary for bravery”, “fear must be conquered to live a fulfilling life”, “fear must be accepted to live a fulfilling life”. Just to name a few possibilities to get you started.

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