Is it better to know the theme of your novel before you begin writing? Should you have a handle on the protagonist’s internal problems so you can build your writing around that issue?
For myself, I find it easier to write out the story, beginning to end, then go back and see what theme emerged from the writing. In my latest WIP (before NaNoWriMo) my third sentence emerged as the metaphor that describes the novel’s plot and subplot. It wasn’t a perfect match after the first draft but become more apparent with the second draft. During the (ongoing) editing process, I started to adjust the story to fall into line with what I saw as the defining theme of the novel.
Enlightenment is an illuminating experience!
Where do you stand on the writing process, do you want to know the facts upfront or do you prefer to watch them unfold as your story grows? Do you consider your story’s theme while you write the first draft, or mine your work later for those enlightening nuggets?