Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dreaded "T" Word

Yes, I'm talking about themes. The bane of my existence when I was in high school. I know, weird for someone who loves to read, but a discussion of story themes always made me want to snooze when I was a teen. No, I didn't actually fall asleep in class. I made every effort to appear attentive and fascinated, but I silently prayed that the teacher would not call on me because I knew I would look like an idiot. And I tried to sit behind really tall people:)

Anyways, I just didn't see the point of having to know about the theme of a story. I just wanted to be entertained when I read. And I confess, even when I first started reading books about writing, I usually skimmed over any reference to themes.

But when I started my current WIP, I decided to give the whole theme concept another shot. I kept reading books, articles, and blogs that preached the importance of knowing your theme. So I figured if it keeps showing up everywhere, then there must be something to it. So I made a list of what I thought of as being central to my book. I even wrote them on a sticky note and taped it to my desk.

And you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT! Yeah, all of those writerly type professionals actually knew what they were talking about. Because when I go back over my themes, I am constantly reminded of where I need to go in my story. I like to think of it as a guide to help me when my characters have a choice to make. I just refer to the themes and ask myself What would (insert character name) do? Why would he/she do this?

And I'm going to list a few of the themes from my WIP because I know you're dying to find out:

*Staying true to yourself
*Dangers of blindly following authority figures without fully knowing why you're doing it
*Hope for a better future

So how do you feel about themes? Love them or hate them? What are some of your themes?


Oh, before I leave you, I found my list of who gave me some awards. I have three, but several different people gave them to me. Since it takes forever to link other sites (courtesy of my very slow computer) I have decided to pass them out one at a time.

Today's award is the One Lovely Blog Award. I have a bunch of wonderful people who gave it to me, so I'll list them out for you: Natalie B., Tina Lynn, Carol, Elle, and Yaya. Thank you guys so much! And I'm going to pick just one blog to pass it on to: Jen at Unedited. I found her blog recently (well she found mine first) and I've really enjoyed getting to know her. And check out her post today. She has the neatest, cleanest writing space I've ever seen! So not like mine:0)


  1. Your themes are great! And I always prayed I wouldn't get called on in class too. Sitting behind a tall person would have been a smart thing to do. ; )

    Good luck on your WIP!

  2. Melissa you are too sweet! Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate it!

    I have grown to love themes! But I am with you and Kimberly on this one... back of the classroom, behind the tall kid... works everytime!

  3. I never know my theme until I finish the draft. I apparently put them in subconsciously, then figure them out later, lol.

  4. Oh gosh. I think this is why I may never get published. I never outline, or plan a theme, or any of the other stuff I'm supposed to do.

    But I will def ponder my theme(s) tonight. :)

  5. I'm like Roni. I figure my themes out after the story is drafted. Then I fine tune them in revisions. At least I hope so!

  6. Hmmm...not sure. I think maybe I do it after, too. I know a central them in my current WiP is that one person is strong enough, all on their own, to defeat whatever evil thing is thrown at them. Oops, I think I may have just given you a peek at my dark moment.

  7. Great themes! Congrats on your award too ;o)

    Let's see: Can you believe in something you can't touch.

    Losing something can make you stronger.

    You know light stuff... LOL I think I need to work on it a bit. Interesting question though and great post!

  8. I always loved looking at themes as a student. I liked to think about the big picture and how books related to life and experienes we all have.

    Figuring out what my own themes are?


    Right now, I'd say it's the consequences of our actions, learning to deal with loss, overcoming guilt, defining love?

  9. Kimberaly - Yeah, the tall person did the trick. Unless the teacher liked to roam around, then you're fair game again:)

    Jen - You're welcome!

    Roni & Anissa - You are very talented to do that!

    Karen - Good luck with your themes! And I'm sure you'll be published soon:)

    Tina - That sounds like a good one!

    Erica - Thank you! And your themes sound great too!

    Amber - I would have loved to sit next to you in high school! But seriously, I really did love literature, just hated the discussions about themes that always came with each book we read.

  10. I have a love/hate relationship with themes. It depends on the day and if I've had any chocolate. ;)

    My theme so far is:

    The first step to any journey is learning to accept yourself.

  11. Theme, that dreaded word. I have to say with my finished book I didn't really think about theme, but I'm trying more with my current WIP

  12. I've been thinking a lot about theme as well...trying to figure out what mine is (!) and whether my story has stayed true to it so far.

    I think my main themes are:

    -not letting the shame and regret of the past become a poison in one's life

    -people can either be victims to circumstance or warriors that persevere

  13. Oh, I hated the themes too. I still do. I don't consciously think about my "theme" while writing, because I don't have one! And when my crit buddies ask me "Where are you going with this?" I'm like, "Wherever."

    So yeah. I feel this theme pain. And ultimately, I DO have a theme (or several) I just don't think about them at all while writing. Somehow they worm their way in there regardless.

  14. Ugh, I hated them growing up and I hated teaching them as well.

    We always write and keep our fingers crossed that a theme will sneak its way on in...ha!

  15. Jenn - Yes, chocolate always helps:)

    Patti - Good luck!

    Morgan - Ooh, I like those themes:) Sounds like your book is going to be very interesting:)

    Elena - Yep, you are very talented to be able to do that!

    LiLa - I used to teach first grade, so I didn't have to worry about themes:) Just writing complete sentences.

  16. I actually LOVE themes. I've always been weird like that. I have to work not to get preachy in my books. My current WIP deals with prejudice, but in a strange way. My MC hates superheroes.

  17. I think your themes are great! I always need to write with a theme in mind. I find that it helps me know where I'm going with the story and how I should shape the characters. Great post :)