Writing a Strong Theme

It’s hard to say what makes a good story so good, but one reason is that certain stories stick with us because they made us feel a certain way. They formed a connection with us that was strong enough to stay with us for years. Why? These stories had a strong theme. Theme is found at the center of your story. It is the meaning that your story conveys. The truth your story reveals. It helps to streamline and focus your story and that’s what makes a connection with you as a reader. So how do we write stories with strong themes?

Keep from preaching. Readers are smart and can pick up on what your theme is without much prodding. So don’t give them sermons in the guise of dialogue or exposition. Your reader will notice and they won’t appreciate it.

Pick one or two main themes to work with. More than that and your writing will be scattered and disorganized. Theme is supposed to tie your story together, not wind down a dozen different paths.

Build themes connected to your characters. Theme should come out of your characters; their beliefs, personality, and character arcs. Your themes should be found in what your characters say and do.

Likewise, your plot should be connected to your theme. Your plot should be driven by your characters’ decisions and actions. So your plot should help to develop the theme. Otherwise your plot will seem random and unorganized.

Don’t worry about making your theme original. There are only so many themes out there. Instead focus on portraying your theme the best way you can. It’s that hard and that easy.

What story themes have stuck with you the most? Comment below and happy writing.

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly stories and prompts.

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