Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finding Theme and Exploring the Theme with Howard

Howard (2004) suggests that a script writer should first do some writing and try to discover the theme in the early drafts by asking some questions: "what kind of change does your protagonist go through? What part of his life or being is challenged or threatened or transformed? How have you thought of ending the story? How do you want us to feel at the end of the story? Will it have a happy ending, a sad or tragic ending, or a bittersweet ending?..." (p. 132-133).

Note in this approach you don't start with a theme (or worse yet a thesis). The theme is discovered by the writer after some writing. So, you can't (according to Howard) start the writing process without a theme (or worse yet a thesis) in mind? Why not? Is it a waste of time to eventually discover the theme?

Howard also points out that other characters should relate to the protagonist in terms of the theme (p. 132, 421). If the story is about ambition and perhaps the protagonist lacks it. The antagonist would be very ambitious (perhaps an over-achieving sister). The protagonist's friends ("reflective characters") may "pull" or "push" him in different directions. So, other characters explore the theme (or reflect the theme) in their connection to the protag or in a subplot, the protag "carries [the theme] in a bigger way than any of the other characters. That means she has to learn or overcome, is more resistant to change" (p. 421).

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