Hello, Write Owls! Welcome to Day 30 of Storytelling 101. Today we’re talking about theme.

I’m still learning how to write theme myself, but I want to include it in this course because many writers have theme drilled into their heads in school. Yes, stories have a theme or multiple themes. But as Stephen King says, it’s not a big deal. Don’t freak out over theme.

Your theme is going to be intrinsic to your story. You have something to say, and it’s going to show when you’re writing (Maass). Start out with the story, and let the theme develop out of it. Once you’ve finished the first draft, ask yourself why you wrote the story. What is the point? You can then heighten the theme when editing or writing future drafts (King). Just don’t make it too obvious. Otherwise, you’ll come across as preachy. The same is true if you start with a theme and write a story to support it.

If you give your characters something to be passionate about, it will contribute to your theme (Maass). You can keep this in mind when drafting and bring it out when revising. Just like you have opinions, your characters will have opinions, too, and they will enhance your story’s theme.

Don’t fret if your theme doesn’t come to you right away. If you’re really struggling, have someone else read your story and ask them what they think the theme is. Sometimes it takes someone who isn’t as close to the story as you are to pick those things out.

These are the basics of theme. If you have any questions about this topic, please leave them in the comments; and I’ll try to answer them as a reply since there is no Q&A on Saturday.

Discussion Questions:

Feel free to answer these in the comments if you want to chime in!

1) Are you surprised that theme isn’t a big deal when drafting?

2) Do you struggle to find themes in your own writing?

Works Cited

King, Stephen. On Writing. Scribner, 2000.

Maass, Donald. Writing the Breakout Novel. Writer’s Digest Books, 2001.

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