Friday, June 15, 2012

Themes - Huh??!!


What does the theme mean to a well-written story? I never really understood the concept and so I hoped I’d managed to incorporate it naturally and didn’t let it faze me. I guess I figured my editor would pick up on it if I’d missed it somehow. Yeah - I know - duhhh!!

I knew that each character had to experience growth from the beginning to when they reach the final pages. That the conflicts in the plot should force this.  And to me, that made sense.

Recently, I read a report about theme being one of the four pillars of a story: setting, characters, plot and you guessed it…theme. This threw me into a total spinout. I mean, have I missed out an important element in my work?

So I began to research what a theme is. Claudia Welch put it into words I could understand when she wrote a piece for the June Romance Writer’s Report. She wrote:


* Is a universal truth

* Is defined by a single word or an extremely short phrase

* Is not manacled to plot, character or setting

* Inhabits the plot, not vice versa

* Is what powers a book, it’s the fuel

And that back in the olden days, basic themes would be:

* Man versus man

* Man versus nature

* Man versus self

Nope - I still didn’t get it. So I checked the thesaurus and it says subject, topic, idea, subject matter, argument, premise and thesis. Well that was a big help - not!

So I’m off to do more research.

Any of you want to try explaining it to me in a thousand words or less?

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  1. Hi MI
    I think in your Angel series the theme is: love conquers all.

  2. I realized I have the same underlying theme in everything I write. Faith.

    Ultimately, my characters have to have a belief in something stronger than themselves and trust it. My current book embodies the struggle between the concepts of an eye for an eye versus forgive and forget. My hero and heroine need to have faith to do what's right.

  3. Hi Jo-ann,
    I've thought about your suggestion but somehow I can't believe it's that easy!?? I mean if the theme is so important as to be one of the four main parts of a story, can it really be that simple? Hummmm - off to do more research!

  4. Hi Shelly,
    Okay - I can understand having faith in something you believe in and having your characters overcome obstacles to find that faith. I think we're getting closer - now I just have to try and understand what the core theme to my writing is....and if it's always the same. Guess I gotta write another blog.