A cardinal principle of good fiction [is]: the theme and the plot of a novel
must be integrated—as thoroughly integrated as mind and body or thought and
action in a rational view of man.
The link between the theme and the events of a novel is an element which I call
the plot-theme. It is the first step of the translation of an abstract theme
into a story, without which the construction of a plot would be impossible. A
“plot-theme” is the central conflict or “situation” of a story—a conflict in
terms of action, corresponding to the theme and complex enough to create a
purposeful progression of events.
The theme of a novel is the core of its abstract meaning—the plot-theme is
the core of its events.