Variations on Theme

Building Moral Resilience To Neutralize Moral Distress

Okay, so now you know your hero’s deepest moral opposition by looking at their final choice. You build the opposition throughout the character web you created in your story. Your collection of characters help provide the variations on the theme of your novel. To make it work this is what you do:

^ Look at your final moral decision and the work the premise so you are clear about the moral problem your hero faces through the story.

^ Ensure each character faces the same moral issue, but in a variety of ways.

^ Compare the hero and the main opponent. These are the two colliding characters. Their beliefs and goals should clash. Then compare the hero’s morals with the other characters.

^ Don’t forget to create your moral argument through dialogue. This is the character’s way of justifying their beliefs and the path they take to reach their goals. It also draws your audience in.

So, I’m staring at the bottom of my cuppa. Time for a refill and I’m thinkin’…an Asian pear would be nice right now. There are bananas, pears, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, and fresh pineapple – yes, I am back on the diet. I cooked way too much comfort food for our daughter and her crew. I may have also comforted myself and the hubs a bit too much. LOL Hey, I am a good cook and made everything she asked for and then some.

The Anatomy of Story (John Truby) – Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

Meet me in the kitchen/breakroom and refill that sad cuppa and grab yourself a nibble. I will run along and roll out the reading rug. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. We are on page 115. Tuck in friends, and let’s do this.

The Characters’ Values in Conflict

Go back to your character web and place the beliefs of each major character in conflict.

^ Create values for your MC and all the other major characters. Values are deep-seated beliefs that make life good in the eyes of each of these characters.

^ Give a cluster of values to each character.

^ Make the values different. We don’t all believe the same thing.

^ As your characters fight over their goals, ensure their beliefs come into direct conflict.

Back in chapter four we talked about four-corner opposition. Remember?

In four-corner we have the MC and the main opponent and at least two secondary opponents. Each of these characters can represent different approaches to the same moral problem. Each can show their own value system in the process of reaching their goals.

Key Point: Your moral argument will always be simplistic if you use a two-part opposition, like good versus evil. Only a web of moral oppositions (four-corner opposition) can give the audience a sense of the moral complexity of real life.

Whichever format you decide to use, the theme should be expressed through your characters and not imposed on them. What creates a deep story is how your characters deal with competing goals and how their beliefs allow them to deal with them. This shows how entire ways of living are at stake causing an emotional impact on your reader.

Theme Through Structure

Theme of a Story: 3 Ways to Uncover Yours with Story Grid

Okay, so let’s be clear. Moral arguments do not mean your hero and opponent are on page one yelling at one another across a conference table. Well, they could, but it isn’t necessary. The argument in the story is in the way your hero and opponent attempt to reach their goals. You do this through story structure and not preaching to the reader on how it’s all done.

Structure isn’t simply carrying content: it is content. This is more than what your characters say, it is in what they do and how they do it. In a good story the structure of each character (if done properly) should converge near the end at the same time.

Disagreeing Pictures, Disagreeing Stock Photos & Images | Depositphotos®

In the beginning your hero and main opponent aren’t screaming at one another. Their conflict starts mild and builds. It takes time for the conflict to build to epic proportions. It isn’t until you get midpoint in your story that it is clear they are opponents. This is where your theme becomes clear. This is where the funnel we talked about in the last post starts to narrow and things come into focus. The battles begin to form. Not just the conflict over goals but their beliefs are brought into the battle. This is where your audience sees the theme expanding. This allowed your theme to grow and form allowing your readers to come along for the ride and not be preached at.

The beliefs and value systems of your characters become clearer through actions and dialogue. This becomes important at the final four key moments in your story: the battle, self-revelation, moral decision, and what is called, the thematic revelation.

Up next: we will go over these four key moments that close out your story and more.

Until then…

Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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Author: Ticia Rani

I am...interesting. I am a writer, dreamer, mom, wife, veteran, friend, villain, and the wearer of many hats, but I don't look good in hats- go figure. I LOVE TO WRITE. I want to tell stories. I want to make you laugh, cry, and scare the crap out of you, and make you ask "why the hell did you do that?" I want to make you cheer my characters on or want to shake the crap out of them for things they say and/or do. I want to bring you along for the ride. Ready? Set?...READ!!!

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