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Running Themes

This is similar to the character psychoses and the location themes but covers recurring plot themes that are not character or place dependent.

These are metaphorical themes that run throughout your novel and add another artistic layer to your text.

They fall into two categories:

Natural themes
These are themes that you notice have occurred in you novel naturally as you have written it.

In Nix Ex Machina, I looked through the plot and noticed that the resting places of the dead being disturbed was a recurring theme:

  • Tarko has to clear the bodies of several dead cats out of the cats home.
  • Tarko and Lemon sort though his Gran's flat where she died.
  • Richard's 'accident' is rearranged twice involving his body being moved.
  • Tarko discovers Deniska's body in the deserted lift shaft and punches him, thinking he is alive.
  • The Oil company in Alaska was paying out compensation for the possible disturbance of Eskimo burial sites.

Having noticed this theme, I then adopt it as a metaphorical theme and use it elsewhere to reinforce it:

  • When Tarko is looking through the shoe boxes in the warehouse, the boxes are compared to coffins.
  • The three Russian computer servers act like three dead spirits that have been reawakened from their eternal rest.
  • The empty houses in Imber are compared to skulls or tombs.

Engineered themes
These are themes that you consciously decide to insert into your novel. Tarko gets caught between two rival gangs and so is like a pawn on a chess game. I decided that this was a nice analogy and so wanted to have chess flow throughout the whole novel as a metaphorical theme:

  • When looking for a way to make a business decision, Tarko and Rurik play a game of chess to decide.
  • The trucks at Allington Point follow a naming convention that follows Russian chess pieces.
  • When attempting to fake the CCTV footage, Tarko and Prokofy put the clocks back on the server and play a game of chess in front of the camera.
  • When Yakov is counting out stacks of money and moving them across the table to Tarko, he moves them like chess pieces.
  • When Yakov is taunting Tarko over his efforts to rescue Lemon, he praises Tarko's efforts to 'protect his queen.'

In Pulling Power, there is a recurring theme or people staring into light. Eve stares at the sun in the Californian desert, when coming round in the hospital Matt stares up at the ceiling light, an FBI agent stares at another ceiling light when sliding in through an open window on his back.