Endless Summer, Part 5 – It’s All About Theme

So now you have the tools to set that ingenious idea that you have planned for your fanfic. Your ideas are many, but scattered. You know everything there is to know about the world that you wish to write about, but within the context of the idea that you have, what is it that you are exactly trying to say? What statement do you wish to say? Drabble isn’t a bad thing, per se, but the best stories are the ones that actually are stories. They sell an idea, and make readers think.

Themes and Choice

I’ve hammered this idea quite repeatedly, that the crux of storytelling boils down to the choices that the characters make throughout the events of the plot. Kyon chooses to return back to his “normal” world with the SOS brigade in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Madoka chooses to become a magical girl at the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Lawrence Kraft chooses to rescue Horo at the risk of sabotaging his deal with the merchants. Okarin has to choose which timelines he wants to come back to in Steins;Gate.  Engaging stories revolve around these choices, and from a writer’s perspective, you need to plan out this choice right from the beginning. It’s from these choices that the story’s main themes come out, the ideas that make your reader think about the choice that they would make if given similar moral situations.

There’s a popular novel writing technique called the Snowflake Method that uses the idea of a fractal shape (not to be confused with Fractale, which probably could have greatly benefited from the Snowflake Method) to build a story by first creating a central overall summary of the plot, which branches off into smaller ideas that make up the structural components of that plot. While I like to use this technique to create a well-structured plot, it lacks the substance that makes the story tick.  The first shape needs to be meatier, and depict the main choice that not governs the entire movement of the story, but also encompasses the theme that you want to bring out.

If you’re having problems coming up with a theme, the tvtropes page on theme is an excellent source of examples of the themes central to your favourite stories. On a personal level, the easiest theme to write is one that personally reaches out to you as a writer and as a person. Behind the initial idea that you came up with in the beginning of this writing process lies a grand message that you just want to show through the choices that your characters make. Think long and hard, and put it into a general statement about the story, not only what you feel it is about, but also what you feel it is about.

Kyon’s Choice

While I am absolutely enamoured by the concept of Endless Eight, incorporating the world of Madoka Magica into it requires a reasonably huge shift in mindset when it comes to writing. Not only am I introducing a new set of characters and concepts, but the shows themes are inherently introduced as well. While time travel is a common conceptual component to both stories, Madoka does a better job in giving its respective characters choices to make, allowing the themes to flourish in the story. Endless Eight by comparison is more restrictive, as the hopelessness of being stuck in an infinite recursion of time implies that the characters didn’t have much choice in the matter, and were only able to escape by sheer luck.

With this crossover, therefore, I intend on giving the characters in the Haruhiverse the choice to escape the endless cycle. Thanks to Kyubey’s ability to grant wishes, any of the characters (particularly the females, especially Haruhi) can make a wish and escape time at the cost of becoming a magical girl. Kyon can’t become a magical girl, naturally, but his influence over Haruhi cannot be understated.  Thus, the overall action of the story would involve Kyubey’s involvement in the brigade’s endless summer vacation, his attempt to make Haruhi a magical girl, and Kyon’s reaction to the entire situation.

What kind of wish would a God make, and if you had the chance, would you let him or her make it?

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2 thoughts on “Endless Summer, Part 5 – It’s All About Theme”

  1. I think that the best kinds of stories ask a big “what if” question and then try to answer it–which is to say that I think that this story will be a very interesting read once it’s done. 🙂

  2. The good ones answer it in a way that doesn’t necessarily need to resonate with audience expectations, but rather sparks them to think about how they would answer it themselves. Inception is one recent example that comes to mind!

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