Your theme is what your book is based on. It is the subject of your book, not the plot, which is how your story will unfold. Your theme should be conveyed in a sentence or a word, such as forgiveness, loneliness, a young boy sets out to find himself, etc. Your theme ‘word’ may seem negative like loneliness, but that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom for your protagonist. You have to use your theme and plot a way for your protagonist’s loneliness to become something more or to drive their actions and thoughts. They may find someone who alleviates their loneliness or maybe they make peace and embark on an inner journey.
Don’t forget to add conflict, because it will drive your plot forward and keep your readers engaged.
Choose to write a subject that you are passionate about. It is very difficult to write about a subject you have no interest in. You could write about a topic that solves your reader’s problems or answers their question, you could show how you would react if you were in a certain situation via your protagonist or maybe you have a book idea that keeps popping up that you have to complete.
Be bold and passionate about what you write. It doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows, the difficult, upsetting and downright nasty themes can be riveting to your readers as well.
But Lindsay, my book doesn’t have a theme…That’s fine. Not every book has a singular theme, some have multiple themes and that’s fine. Your theme may develop as you are writing your book and reveal itself in the end. The most important thing is knowing what kind of story you want to tell and how you are going to tell it.
Let’s take a look at 69 popular themes in literature to get more of an idea of theme ‘words’ and which apply to your work in progress:
- Beauty in simplicity
- Change of power
- Chaos vs. Order
- Coming of age
- Crime doesn’t pay
- Gender Roles
- Good vs. Evil
- Humanity vs. Nature
- Identity Crisis
- New Experiences
- The circle of life
- The rise/ downfall of a character
A theme is the universal idea, lesson or overall message that is carried throughout your story. Which themes can you identify in your favourite book, book you’ve written or work in progress? My book Dancersaur includes perseverance as its main theme. Do you identify your theme before you write your book, during or not at all? Let me know by commenting below!
Love and Blessings,
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