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THEME – the Raison d’etre

By Anne Beggs
May 31, 2022

I jumped, well, actually, I defaulted, no, I … let’s stick with I jumped at the chance to write about themes and symbols. Theme, the raison d’etre. Why we read and write.

We read fiction to be swept away; to peer into unknown worlds, to experience something different and new to us, to solve mysteries, glean understanding, and of course to be entertained, educated and spell bound. We write for the same reasons: To explore, to expose, to share an experience or insight. I fall into the category of writers who need to write, write and rewrite to discover what the hell I needed to express.

Nutshell Elements of Writing – Characters – who? Plot – what? Setting – where? POV – who and why do we care? Style – how? Theme – Why?  All these elements are tools, devices to propel the story and the theme. Symbols enhance the theme and story, tying in with the other elements.

I am writing a character driven family saga in Medieval Ireland. Archer’s Grace, Book One is certainly a coming-of-age story, with family, love, morality, and spiritual discovery themes that are central throughout the series. I did not know I would be tackling all these lofty themes when the voices came to me. My characters lead me. We have our reasons. Same with the symbols, they truly presented themselves to me even when I didn’t realize their significance. It might just be the organic nature of the whole storytelling process.

Protagonist, Eloise of Dahlquin is seventeen when a treasonous siege catapults her and a stranger on a quest to save her family and mayhap all Ireland. Through dialogue and action, the characters learn about themselves and each other, revealing their world to us, both in setting descriptions and more importantly, thematically, how they feel about it, their perspectives, and experiences. For Eloise coming of age, what is she? Who is she if Dahlquin falls? Where does loyalty lie? Like Dorothy, she certainly learns “There’s no place like home!”

Nature and wilderness are thematic and symbolic, as the Church viewed wilderness as the realm of Satan, not within the control of man or God. It must be conquered and exploited. Nature, reproduction and the life force to survive are symbolic and play out in the subsequent books, and again represent something to be exploited and controlled. Within nature, horses and wolves are symbols of power, freedom, family. Horses give flight, the ability to fly and to escape. Wolves represent danger, mystique and family, living in organized family units, brutal and tender.

 Spoiler alert – Eloise has a simple wooden cross pendant she wears always. Humble and pious in appearance, it conceals a blade, a weapon of last resort, and highlights the complexities and hypocrisies of her existence, a bit symbolic. Archery is a well-known martial art, it also symbolizes protection, freedom and especially for Eloise, safety at a distance. Don’t let others get too close.

Spirituality becomes a central theme in Archer’s Grace; but the quest for greater understanding will continue. Eloise feels the great power and life force of God, the creator, but she doesn’t understand why there is no mention of the Goddess, the mother, the female from which so much of life grows and flows. What is so apparent in the world around her, doesn’t exist within the society. Where does she fit? How can she be a part of this world?

And with family, love, morality, spirituality…loyalty, betrayal, redemption and so much more … I’m always hoping for a Happily Ever After …


Anne Beggs
Written by Anne Beggs

Anne M. Beggs writes adventure romance and family saga set in Medieval Ireland. She is a member of Paper Lantern Writers and Historical Novel Society. For more about her books, mounted archery, and horses, please contact her on Facebook or Instagram @annitbella72

View Anne’s PLW Profile

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