Posted in Writing

Theme: That Sticky Thing Some Have Issues With

How do you insert a theme into your story? Well, there are different ways of doing this. Just so you know, how this is done differs from writer to writer. After all, we are all different minded individuals. I tend to do things a little backwards. At least in my mind I do. To start with, theme is a lesson or idea the story teaches and is carried throughout the story. A story can have more than one, so don’t think you can’t go beyond that.

1. Good vs. evil
2. Power of corruption
3. Love
4. Free will
5. Tragedy

Of course, there are many many more. But, how do you incorporated it into your story? I have come to the knowledge over the years that it has much to do with how you write. I am a panster. In other words, I don’t plan. I make the story up as I go along. I know in advance the type of theme I am wanting to work with, so I set out writing my story. As I am writing, the theme is working in the background, a.k.a simmering in my subconscious. It will come to the surface as the story unfolds.

In my latest book The Cross’s Key, when I finished it, I started at the beginning of the book and looked for anything that pertained to the story’s theme and made notations of it. When that was finished, I went back to each notation and decided whether or not the theme was developed enough. If it wasn’t, what did I need to insert in order to develop it more. Was there anything that didn’t make any sense that needed clarification? Did the theme flow with the rest of the story, or was there something out of place that might derail the reader? Trust me, it’s your story, so you will know the answers to these questions at the moment you’re going through it.

If you are a planner and plan your story out before you set to writing that first chapter, then you are going to outline your chosen theme during the planning process. If this is the way you work, what I would do is come up with a theme first. Next, I would write down in a couple of sentences what my book is about (or a general idea anyway). Then go back to your theme and brainstorm various ways that theme could be incorporated into your story.

Whatever way you choose, please note, theme is an integral part of your story. Yes, I know there are many elements to a story that are important, but theme will pull at the reader’s mind and work toward making connections in ways only they will know.


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