Frequently, when speaking with readers and other writers, the subject of theme or message comes up. What is the message of the story? What themes run through the story? What does the story say about the human condition?
Themes are not always blatant or obvious. If they are, it may be because the author is more interested in pushing his or her agenda than in telling a compelling story.
For me, themes and messages work best when they are woven into how the characters think, act, and speak. The reader discovers the themes as the characters live them out in the story.
I’m no philosopher or theologian. I write what the Lord puts on my heart. I endeavor to let him guide my thoughts and my fingers so the words I put on the screen are the ones he wants, ones that honor him.
In Journey to Riverbend, the hero, Michael Archer, journeys on several levels. There is the physical journey from Missouri to the fictional town of Riverbend. And there’s the physical journey he takes with the posse.
As challenging as the physical aspects are, Michael experiences deep emotional and spiritual journeys also, journeys that affect him in profound ways.
Emotionally, he travels down a path he never expected to experience and doesn’t believe he deserves—falling in love with a woman. The fact that it’s feisty and independent Rachel Stone takes the journey along the edge of a sheer cliff.
Spiritually, Michael confronts the demon he has battled since he was thirteen when he stabbed his father with a pitchfork. Inside him is an evil force he believes he can’t control, a force he believes keeps him from being the man he thinks he should be. This force appears early in the story when he confronts the town bully. It murmurs just below the surface throughout the novel until he is faced with the ultimate moral choice of having to take someone’s life.
By the end of the story, we see the themes of Michael’s journeys. He is redeemed and restored as he faces his demons and realizes they do not control him. With this restoration, he is able to step onto a new path of loving someone and being worthy of receiving love himself.
Which books have you read where the themes resonated with you as a reader and a person?