Thursday, July 10, 2008


Theme ~~ what is it and why do writer’s need the haunting lure of it to reign in the reader?

It is good practice to carry a theme throughout your story. The theme of your story is usually implied through other elements, such as point of view, setting, imagery and the tone set throughout your piece of work. The theme becomes illuminated through these elements of style.

The theme is the underlying consciousness of your work. It is a central idea running like a stream throughout your work making it come together like cogs on a machine. Your theme will be the bonding of you and the reader, where he/she has a lightbulb moment, grasping what you have conveyed.

Sometimes the theme is not planned and often it changes in mid-writing. You had planned on your theme to be about the acceptance of death on humanity, but something happened along the typing path that had you (unconsciously) shifting to the beauty of mortality.

An idea is of the broader spectrum of the rainbow, where as the theme becomes subjective without limitations to you or your reader; over the rainbow so-to-speak. It is like feeding to your reader what he was thinking to be a lighthearted comedy, instead he received a thought-provoking piece of art that touched him profoundly.

If you’ve written 2500 words and haven’t a clue as to what your theme is, maybe go back and re-read, seeing if you missed something. It is possible that even you, the writer, missed the boat.

The theme is the underlying canvas to which you place the paint. You pick up a paintbrush (that looks an awful lot like a pen) and in a whimsical spin you begin creating art with words. As you feel the artistic flow being created subconsciously you will be spilling part of your sight and wisdom onto the canvas creating …a theme.

Don’t force a theme ~ It can’t be done and will come off as preachy.

Write what you know ~ Writing what you have experienced in life and the hardships is perfect for the theme setting to begin.

Use a psychological approach ~ Think depth when you write. Is there a deeper meaning than what you had anticipated?

Try subtlety ~ Being subtle makes the reader do the thinking.

Do NOT struggle ~ struggling to find a theme or to make your theme work will also assist you in losing the personality of your characters. Writing should come naturally, the theme will surface without your realization.

Write On!

1 comment:

June said...

Thanks for the thoughts on theme, Joni!

Why is it that the word "theme" sends shivers up and down the spine of many writers?

Maybe it has something to do with how the subject was taught?

I've found, over the years, if the word "meaning" is used in conjunction with the word "theme," it seems to somehow soften the blow...

Take care,