Quoting Themes

Quoting ThemesI’m nearing the point where I’m willing to let other people read my current work in progress and I’m stalling a little. I need to cut a serious number of words and I seem only capable of adding. So I’m taking a break and attending to details like making sure there’s only one chapter marked “10” and that it follows chapter 9. Seriously. It needed to be done.

But one of my favorite details was searching for the epigraphs—the little quotes at the beginning of the chapters that give you a little taste of what might happen in the chapter and points to the themes.

I thought it might be fun to give you all a selection of some of the quotes that might just make an appearance in The Way of the Tiger

“Where then is evil? What is its origin? How did it steal into the world?…Where then does evil come from, if God made all things and, because he is good, made them good too?”
~St. Augustine

The classic question of an all-powerful, loving God. It becomes a critical question to most of my characters as they’re faced with the worst of human circumstances. Okay, it’s one I  wrestle with too. But it seems silly sometimes in the midst of my first world problems. I think if my characters can figure it out, maybe I can too.

“We perceive an image of truth and possess only a lie.”
~Blaise Pascal

My main character has a bad habit of living this quote out. She, like most of us, see life through a skewed lens and struggles with seeing things as they really are. There’s another saying that comes to mind…”We see through this glass but darkly.” It’s a biblical quote and I find it so true. I rarely see things in proper perspective.

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions,
While the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
~William Butler Yeats
The Second Coming

This one just gives me goosebumps and sounds like something Kai, my main character, might say. Which contrasts a bit with . . . Love and Giving

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson Tweet This

“I lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity, for, in those dozen words, I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended on me alone.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

Ryan, my male protagonist, is the light of the story. Everyone looks to him to be the solid one. He gives and gives even when he’s sure the world is coming apart at the seams. But he feels like he might be responsible for the problems and is a bit of a control freak that way.

“Where in jungles, near and far, / Man-devouring tigers are, / Lying close and giving ear / Lest the hunt be drawing near.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson, Travel

The tiger is a prominent theme in the book. I expected to find a quote like this in Rudyard Kipling as he spent a lot of time in India (which neighbors Burma). Instead I found it in the famous fairytale writer’s work.

“There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.”
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

This is terrifying, but true. It haunts all my characters and I suspect every one of us. It’s another theme–exploring how far we’ll go. Dostoevsky was a powerful prophet for Soviet Russia and continues to be so today.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul–and sings the tunes without the words–and never stops at all.” ~ Emily Dickinson Tweet This

“Be still, my soul—the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them.”
~ Katharina von Schlegel, Be Still, My Soul

These words are where I hope my story lands. Things happen. Dark things. We all know that. None of us can explain them fully or even hope to understand. But there is hope.

Ach! There have been so many incredible words written it’s hard to pick just a handful. I love quotes so much that I keep a file of them, just so I have someplace to go when I need inspiration and encouragement.

Now, you might not have the compulsion to keep a file (I understand it’s weird. I’m a writer. Sue me.), but I’m willing to bet you have a favorite quote or saying. Maybe if you share it, I can add it to my file!

10 thoughts on “Quoting Themes

  1. Janyre:

    “I’m becoming conscious that when I invite God into every task, seek his wisdom, trust him for help when I get stuck, the work itself becomes a sacrament.” – Adventure of Ascent – Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey – Luci Shaw © 2014 (p. 87)

    1. I love Luci Shaw. I was hoping to meet her at Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing, but she wasn’t able to come. If I don’t get to meet her in this life, we’ll meet on the other side 🙂

  2. “I’m glad it’s over. Partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.” -Mark Twain.
    I feel this way about a lot of things in life, like being pregnant. Which says a lot about me I suppose. But like you said, first world problems!

    1. I love Mark Twain. Just hearing him again gives me a hankerin’ to read one of his this summer … And don’t be too hard on yourself. We have first world problems, but they’re still our problems. Still the road blocks we have to navigate. Still the things that challenge us to grow, change, and become better than we were yesterday. I just always pray that I learn the lesson right the first time so I don’t have to do it again 😉

    1. I’m about 100 manuscript pages away! I’m happy to be almost done with this part, but the thought of someone reading the book itself makes me want to throw up. Even though I’m a book editor myself and I’ve done this all before with my own work, I think I’ll always be nervous to let people see a book for the first time. The blog has actually helped me with that a little. Just putting my thoughts out for folks to read helps inoculate me 🙂

    2. Oh. And I totally think a post of quotes would be awesome for you! Maybe make it a Facebook series?? Tuesday’s #StrongGirlsCan Thoughts or some such thing.

  3. Janyre – I loved this post! Mainly because my dream is to write fiction and I am tiptoeing around the story with thoughts of my characters and their motivations. I just wrote yesterday in my journal that we all have backstories – ones in which we don’t know of others and are unwilling to expose of ourselves… So I love the lead quote! Here’s the latest quote I saved in my ‘quote file’… “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. – Corrie Ten Boom”!

    1. I love Corrie TenBoom! Thanks for the awesome quote. The idea of us all having backstories is GREAT! I always start with my characters and a question. Then I see snippets of scenes and start writing them down. Sometimes the scenes make it into the book and sometimes they become backstory. But the fact that you’ve started journaling them is a perfect place to start. You might want to organize or group them if you have revisiting characters or even by theme. Some characters talk to me for years before I get to writing them into a story. You’ll have to keep me in the loop as to how it’s coming.

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