Picking a Theme for Your Story

You might not consciously pick a theme for a story that you’ve written, but it’s still in there. That’s because a book’s theme is tied in with your basic story as well as from your characters.

The reason that you want to highlight a theme in your novel is because it can be used as a tool to make readers connect with the story. It can also create a book that readers remember years down the road.

That doesn’t mean that a theme is a preachy message that shoves something that you want to teach in the face of the reader. Using a theme that way will turn readers off. A theme is an intricate part of your story and teaches readers by letting them live in the character’s world.

They go on the same emotional journey that your character goes on. Some books do have more than one theme but there’s usually one that takes the lead over the others. To use a theme correctly, you would look at what’s going on with your character.

Books featuring young characters often have a coming of age theme. Books that feature older characters can sometimes have themes such as a midlife crisis. It’s the journey of how the character handles those themes that make your story.

Redemption is a popular theme because it focuses on the story of characters who are trying to find their way back from mistakes they’ve made. Death is another theme. You’ll see this in certain popular young adult books.

Death as a theme is popular to use in books featuring the deaths of beloved animals – especially dog books. Good versus evil is an often used theme and connects with readers because most people don’t like for injustice to prevail.

Revenge is a theme that you’ll see play out in a lot of movies and it’s a widely used one in books as well. Readers connect with the characters in a book using this theme because they like the thought of conquering the wrong that was done to them.

Conspiracies – especially concerning a powerful government group – are a hit as themes and so are ones that focus on relationships. Using a relationship as a theme means your characters would go on a journey about losing love, finding a lost love, or experiencing a tragedy in love.

If you’re not sure what theme you’d like to have in your book, think about the things that impact your own life – a mother-daughter relationship that’s broken, sons against fathers, survival, betrayal, fear and loneliness are all good themes in a book. The best theme to choose is one that resonates with you.

SJ Clarke

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