11 April 2016


**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

He expected the whole world to come crashing down on us, and still there was nothing. Everyone lived in their own little bubble, and we weren’t even worth noticing.

Every so often, amidst all the plot holes and inconsistencies and things to fix, you realize you may have gotten something right. Some element of your story that just works, even though you may not have even tried to put it there in the first place. But once you figure it out, you want to keep working on it so that one element is as perfect as it could possibly be.

I don't usually plan on putting themes or symbols into my writing, but every so often they pop up without me even trying. One of those things I think I got right in UL is this idea of isolation. And it works on a few different levels. Well, my characters have to be isolated, since they're carrying out a secret relationship. That part was always obvious. But I think my characters are even more isolated than they realize.

Even though Jordan technically lives with his mother, she is hardly ever home. He basically lives his life on his own. He has school and friends, but most of the time, he's alone. He doesn't necessarily have a problem with this, either. Tom, on the other hand, forces isolation upon himself. Besides working his job, he chooses to be completely alone, mostly because he's terrified of himself and doesn't want other people to really know him. Part of the appeal of their relationship is that only when they are with each other can they be completely 100% themselves, and also not be alone.

Setting plays a big role in this as well. The book takes place in New York City (more on setting in a later post!). I always liked this juxtaposition of having this busy, lively city all around the characters, and yet they are completely isolated from the world, both together and alone. The world getting in could ruin everything, so they have to keep it out.

But it's on the individual level where I think the isolation really works. It's sad whenever someone feels they have to hide who they are or keep the world away. But sometimes it's just out of that person's control. By the end of the novel, one character is branching out, putting himself out there more and finding his place in the world. For the other, that place may never exist. But there are always sequels...

Have you ever had an isolated character? Do you ever put themes in your stories?


  1. I'm not a fiction writer, but I've been a loner forever, so I know a little bit about isolation! Currently, I live in a large city with one friend, my spouse. I've lived here three years, have positive relationships with coworkers, but no "hang-out" peeps. Work is work, and home is my haven.

  2. I never set out to put symbols in my stories or work with a theme - they just happen.
    Isolation appears in my stories, both times self-imposed, but for very different reasons.

  3. I love when I go back and read a draft and see all these themes and symbols popping up, ones I didn't even realize I was putting in. It's cool and kinda spooky, too. :)

  4. Saying hello from the A-Z!

    My husband and daughter are more loners than I am. I sometimes struggle to understand this. Thanks for an interesting read.

  5. I have many isolated characters.

    Like you, I don't start out intending to put in themes or symbols into my story, but occasionally I stumble across them later on.

  6. I don't actively put themes into my writing, but they do appear in my writing. So when I'm done drafting, I'll go back and see if I can strengthen the themes so that the story forms a cohesive whole.

  7. I don't usually think of themes of symbols when I'm writing too, but have had readers point them out. My zombie story has the main character feeling isolated.

  8. These isolated themes and characters are a pain. I think mine come from an idea that I had, and then lost in the writing of the rest of the story. Many times I just delete these "dangling" artifacts of that idea, but sometimes I'm able to work them throughout the book.

  9. The main character in my first book was isolated. She was a top swimmer and long hours of practice kept her from having much of a social life.

  10. We all feel isolated at times, I think, whether literally or emotionally. Like Lily Tomlin said, "Just remember, we're all in this alone!"

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  11. I think it's hard to consciously put themes in stories. They kind of have to organically show up. Because that's what the author is doing, telling a story from their perspective. Then the theme just develops.

    Liz A. from
    Laws of Gravity

  12. I LOVE this post... particularly: "Part of the appeal of their relationship is that only when they are with each other can they be completely 100% themselves, and also not be alone."

    As a reserved, introvert, I can completely relate.

    So glad this bubbled up in your writing... it is a great theme to explore (especially in the city that never sleeps. :)

  13. I think the characters in my story are pretty isolated from the world around them because of their situation and/or profession. It makes for a lot of people stepping into other people's isolation. lol

  14. Interesting post. Enjoy reading it. Isolation as a preference or choice is different than waking up and finding yourself there one day. I can related to both points of that spectrum.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit