Using short, easy-to-digest video lectures, this course will improve your fiction writing skills beyond the ordinary. Beginners and advanced writers alike will benefit from this study of theme, including what it is, why it is important, and how to use it. This course will go over everything you need to know about theme, and I will also show you exactly how to use it step-by-step. If you feel like your fiction is lacking fire, or end up not knowing what to write, then this is the course for you. Take control of your writing skills with this course, and find out what you can do to improve your novels!
Welcome to Matrix Writing. Matrix Writing is my own personal method of writing novels. It takes an approach to writing that many authors seem to drastically under-value... if they even know about it at all. In short, I write my novels through theme.
Matrix Writing is what will take every aspect of your novel, and weave it all together to form something with meaning. At the end of the novel, the reader will feel like he's accomplished something, as the last part of the picture you've been creating falls into place, and he sees what you've been driving at for the entire novel.
In this lecture, I'll go over what I'm going to cover in this course. I tried to make this video as short as possible (otherwise it would be really long), so I don't go into much detail; but in the course itself, I'll explain everything. And if you still don't understand something or have a question, don't hesitate to ask me by using the Q&A button at the bottom of every lecture. You can message me privately through Udemy as well, but remember that other people might have the same question, and it helps them if they can see it.
What is a theme? A theme is the message you're trying to get across to the reader. Going back to Matrix Writing, it's the picture that you create with your novel. Without it, your novel is just a jumble of complex plots and compelling characters. And no matter how good you are at writing, your novel will always lack that extra something that is a theme. Learn about themes in this lecture, and what exactly they are.
I believe theme is the single most important element of novel creation, and for good reason. Too many authors today either do not know what theme is, or fail to recognize just how important it is. J. K. Rowling is one of the few who did, and her novels swept all others before them with next to zero effort. In this and the next few lectures, I'll do my best to explain exactly why theme is so important.
It's important that you start developing your novels with theme and nothing else. In section three you'll see very clearly why this is, and just how much you can get out of your theme. In this lecture, I'll give you my 'pumpkin pie example' to demonstrate why you have to start with theme. If you add it in later, everything else you do simply will not work. Learn the importance of beginning with theme.
Important Note: When I say that you should start with theme, I do NOT mean that the first pages of your novel should be about your theme. In fact, that's one of the fastest ways you can lose your readers. What I mean is that you should start your development with theme. You have to start planning your novel somewhere; that place is theme.
I wanted to give you a chance to review what I've gone over. The next lectures focus on different aspects of theme, so I've included this quiz now, rather than at the end of the section.
Inexperienced authors - and experienced ones who know nothing about theme - often fall into this trap. There are two broad categories of ways to get your theme across: showing and telling. Those that tell their theme practically doom their novels to never reach the publisher. Those that show their theme not only succeed, but do so in a very powerful way that readers will love. Learn how to relate your theme in this lecture.
Symbols might not be directly related to theme, but they can be extremely useful in getting it across. Some themes are just easier to relate than others, and for the most stubborn of themes, symbols can come in handy. Like theme itself though, you need to know if you're going to be using a symbol from the very beginning. Picture Lord of the Rings if Tolkein had realized only half way through that he might need a Ring to convey what he wanted to. The book would have been completely different.
It's always good to pause and try to implement what you've learned. Doing so will not only show you things in a different light, but ingrain the concepts deeply so that you won't forget them. On that note, I thought it would be a good exercise to look at some popular films and/or books and try to identify the central theme in each one of them.
One very important note: a lot of movies (and moreso books) today do not have a central theme. They might have a few side-themes (meaning the writers basically happened across it and threw it in), but they rarely have a main theme that the entire work is built off of. The following questions are about works that do have a central theme.
Further note: This is of course my opinion. I think that some of the themes in the following are pretty obvious, but you might see it differently. If you disagree with me and think the theme is something other than what I say, please let me know in a question. I'd love to hear your opinions on this, and the different takes on the following movies/books.
If you haven't read the book/seen the movie featured in one of the questions, just skip that question. There's a handy button on the bottom left of the screen.
Originality is a lot like air. No, really. We have two options when it comes to being original. We can stick with the same stagnant practices that work, or look for something new. Think of a closed room. You know the air inside will keep you alive, but if you open a window and let in a fresh breeze, you add new life to the familiar surroundings of the room. Sticking with the old air - aka cliches - will be boring to the reader. Learn how to open the window in this lecture.
Step One is all about defining the theme. Before you use your theme, you need to know exactly what it is. Vague impressions or ideas won't cut it; you need to have a solid definition and know exactly what it is. This step is designed to do just that.
Similar to the previous lecture, there's more you have to do to your theme before you can start working with it. Specifically, you have to define exactly what it is about. It may seem obvious to you, but it is very important to do this step. Define the core concepts of your theme, and you will have identified the backbone of your story.
Your story needs a goal, and that goal needs to relate to the theme. If it doesn't, your entire story will be thrown out of sink. Trust me, I know. This step will look back at the theme, and figure out what it is trying to accomplish.
Now that you know the goal of your theme, you can define the ending of your novel. Take the time to craft this very important part of your story.
It may be more character creation than part of theme, but the inner journey is something you should get down now, before anything else has a chance to contaminate it. You already have the people in your story struggling to prove the theme; now you need to have your main characters struggle to prove it to themselves as well.
This is it. Now is the time to take everything you've learned from your theme and put it all together. You'll get to see your story for the first time. Take your time with this step. Remember, the synopsis is the framework that everything else builds off of after this. Get this wrong, and your development will eventually run into problems days, weeks, or months later, forcing you to go back to this point. Get the synopsis right.
This is the final step, but it's still important. The story type tells you important information about your story. From it, you'll be able to make sure that you're beginning and ending where you're supposed to. Additionally, it will be useful later on.
Based on what I covered in step seven, figure out which story type our example fits into. You can see the description for some tips if you want to.
Once you get inspiration, it can be tempting to just start developing with it. Don't. What you think is the theme usually isn't. Learn how to decipher inspiration correctly, and turn those sudden rushes of drive into powerful stories.
I've discovered that there are two very broad methods of relating theme in novels. One is the 'throughout' method, which is the one I've been teaching. The other is the 'set up' method, which takes a completely different approach. Find out how these two methods change your novel, and let me know which one you would use.
Review everything we've covered, and get ready for future courses on writing. Theme is only the beginning.
I’ve always been interested in design. It started as a desire to draw pictures, figure out how artists made things look so life-like, and do the same myself. It morphed into Photoshop and digital design. It expanded to the internet, web-design, and the learning of some html.
Additionally, I’ve always wanted to write novels. The desire has just always been there. I remember sitting down at the keyboard when I was five or so and starting to write. Not that such endeavors ever lasted. I would get bored or lose interest. Something was missing.
And then, about six years ago, these two desires collided. I took a new approach to writing. I studied all I could about it, through books on writing, novels that had been successful, and my own trial-and-error. I joined a writing community and put their constructive criticism to use. I made my own writing contest, designed to help myself and others hone our writing skills. I wrote some small works of my own, slowly increasing my skill with the pen (er, I mean keyboard).
True to my interest in design, I built a process, a checklist if you will, designed to create a novel the way I thought it should be. I put everything together from everything I’d learned or read, and came up with a process that worked. I tried it out on my own writings. I revised it many times. I perfected and simplified it until it was a process anyone could follow, a process that would not just allow them to create a novel, but create a novel that would succeed, and stand out from the average authors. I don’t want to be an average author, and I doubt anyone else does, either. I want to be a successful author. I want to reach as many people as I can. And for that, my novels needed that something extra that I had always been missing.
Learn my process, see why I call it Matrix Writing, and you’ll find out what your novels have been missing too. Don’t be an ordinary author. Be extraordinary!