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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Nineteen

Something to Say

Weaving Theme into Your Novel

Donald Maass

Have you ever been trapped at a party talking with someone who has nothing to say? You look for excuses to slip away. So do readers. When they run across a novel that has nothing to say, they snap it closed—or perhaps hurl it across the room. Fiction readers expect to be engaged on deeper levels.

Fact one: All stories are moral. All stories have underlying values. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t bother listening. Whether they are danced around a campfire or packaged in sleek trade paperbacks, they are the glue that holds together our fragile human enterprise.

Fact two: Readers tend to seek out the novels that are in accord with their beliefs. Techno-thriller readers are ...

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