1. Kite2
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    Kite2 New Member

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    Good theme ideas

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kite2, Jul 13, 2014.

    hey i want to start writing a new book but before i begin i need to find a theme. A theme is like a life lesson that you can learn from reading a piece of literacy. A lot of people don't even use a theme and just start writing but i find that to be pointless, if nothing can be learned from your writing there is no point of writing it.

    Here are a couple of themes I have seen in other books, movies, plays, ect.
    Don't judge other people before you get to know them - Shrek
    Things are not always as they seem - Monster Blood Tattoo
    Never hold a grudge - Romeo and Juliet

    So what are some of your ideas?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My view is that if the thing that you learn from a piece of writing is a simplistic single sentence, there is no point in writing it.

    Edited to rephrase: No, I mean that if a piece of literature is written for the purpose of communicating an idea that can be communicated in a simplistic single sentence, there is no point in writing it. I don't necessarily think that you do need to communicate an idea or theme.

    Literature generally has tangled, complicated themes. If you just start writing the story, and come back to it a little later, I'll bet that you'll find that it has a dozen themes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. How can you get enthusiastic about someone else's theme?

    How do you get , never hold a grudge, from Romeo and Juliet? The theme from R&J is forbidden love, isn't it?
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is good.

    @Kite2: I think you're getting things bass-ackwards, and that's easy to do at your age. Don't start with a theme. I know you want to write something meaningful, and that means something that has a theme (I know this because I was doing the same at your age), but you have to trust yourself. The theme will emerge as you write. You'll find that, when you've revised your work a time or two, that you're proud of what it says, even if you couldn't see that when you were first writing. Trust yourself to present the material in a different way from the way anyone else would do it.

    As @ChickenFreak says, themes can't be expressed in one sentence. If they could be, then writers would just write that one sentence. The whole reason the human race has developed metaphors is that things can't be expressed in one simple sentence. You need to tell stories - whole stories - in order to make your meaning clear. If what you're expressing can be expressed in a sentence, you're writing mathematics, not literature.

    Heck, do you think all Romeo and Juliet means is, "Don't hold a grudge"? Really? There's a lot more there than just that - more there than can be expressed in a line.
     
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  5. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I thought the theme in Romeo & Juliet was to always be the second person to drink poison in a suicide pact. :unsure:
     
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  6. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You do not need to write based on a central theme. More likely than not, people will draw their own themes based on the events in the story. How many stories have you read to where only one theme can be derived anyway?
     
  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a weird, but essential, disconnect between readers and writers.

    Readers seek stories that are interesting to them. Interesting stories are usually defined by the themes they explore. At least for me as a reader. But keep in mind that a story's themes have more to do with how the reader interprets the story than with what the author intends to accomplish.

    A good writer is defined by his or her skill at taking any idea and developing it in a way that is enjoyable to read. A writer is a specialist in using a crude tool (language) for a purpose for which it is ill-suited: the purpose of communicating highly imaginative thoughts. A writer's cultural job is to communicate imaginative ideas, not necessarily to decide which ideas are interesting.

    Between the writer writing the story and the reader reading the story, there are many factors that are out of the writer's control. One factor is whether or not the themes will interest the reader. The best the writer can do is to use his or her storytelling skill at its maximum level. It is the job of readers to determine the literary and thematic merit of a story.

    But since I have this habit of ignoring my own advice, here are some themes with which I as a writer am obsessed:
    • "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." - Mother Theresa
    • There are four kinds of love, and agape is distinguished from the other three by its nature as a deliberate decision.
     
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  8. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's possible to find morals in stories which weren't intended by the original author, though as an author it should be important to include at least one without making it obvious, at least from the beginning of the story.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    My idea's usually start with a general theme ( for my Dolls story one of the general themes is a kindof environmental theme about the false beauty of plastics ) but they usually get turned around in the final draft or they expand into something I never dreamed of - either way it never winds up what I thought it would be.

    I think every good story needs a moral or a point/theme but I think the difference between a good story and a merely entertaining or maybe even an awful story is the difference between the author discovering a/or multiple theme(s) vs forcing a theme.
     
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  10. A.M.P.
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    I believe most stories, at least in fantasy, have themes. A story without a theme is like telling your friend what you ate for breakfast and did in the bathroom and expect them to be fascinated.

    Themes don't have to be overly complicated. They could be as simple as love triumphs over evil, doing the right thing even if its hard, love and friends is important, or whatever.Only more philosophical texts and characters have bigger and multiple themes. Usually strories only have a few typically related to the characters goals and wants.

    Let's say you watched a movie about medieval witch hunters and go into the groove. You could say the theme is "Humanities zeal to eradicate evil in all it's forms, even if those forces are from hell and have superpowers and we don't".. that's a hell of a long theme.

    Readers do not read for the theme of a book, it's only a "genre" they're interested. They read for the characters and the story, not for the plot, twists, or the morals/themes. All that will be lost on them until they pause or finish the book and reflect on it or go online/bookclubs and read/discuss it with others.

    In other words, there is no good or bad themes (Unless the theme is "How jews rule the world and how YOU can stop them"... good luck getting that publshed and not getting publicly lynched).
     
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  11. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is the exact opposite of the truth for me. With few exceptions, I only read a fictional book after reading a plot synopsis and some reviews of it and deciding that something interests me about the concepts it develops and the themes people get out of it. I have never browsed books by genre and just picked up a book and started reading.

    But this:
    is true.
     
  12. A.M.P.
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    @daemon
    I didn't mean genre as fantasy or sci-fi. I put it in quotes to denote that the themes themselves are a "genre" to a reader.

    Such as romance is a genre but "forbidden love" or "unrequeted love" or "love triangles are okay" are themes or a sort of "genre" to the reader that helps them decide whether this spercific romance story is the sort of romance they enjoy.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I either disagree, or I don't understand what you mean by a theme. A story about how you ordered the salmon crepe for breakfast and they brought you a tuna fish sandwich, and you sent it back and they brought you the maple crepe, and then the salmon Caesar, and then they told you that if you just can't be pleased they'd rather you left and didn't come back, doesn't really have a theme that I can see. But it could still be interesting. You could try to forcibly tack a theme to it by summarizing whatever you've learned from it ("Some people are simultaneously confused and arrogant, and those people shouldn't run restaurants.") but I still don't really feel that it has a theme.
     
  14. A.M.P.
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    That's just the way I see themes.
    May or may not be accurately worded but I think the sense of it remains somewhat.

    I see it as a lesson learned, somewhat like a moral but not teaching you anything. There is, or should be, some sort of message you get. A sort of inspiration, or set of beliefs portrayed by the characters that are realstically feasable whether you agree with them or not.

    It doesn't have to be central to the story or end in a way that makes it painfully obvious, just themes explored by the writer that show ways of life and thinking that may or may not be different of your own.

    Does that clear it up?
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    I'm not sure. :) Do you see "Some people are simultaneously confused and arrogant, and those people shouldn't run restaurants." as a theme? And do you see the theoretical story as a story? (Edited to add: Though perhaps you'd perceive it as having a different theme?)

    I'm not saying that either answer is right or wrong, just that they would clarify, for me, what your position is.
     
  16. A.M.P.
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    You could simplify the theme and say "People are given power even if they don't deserve it" which could be a broader net.So, if I am in the mood for a political novel, I could narrow down my search to themes that primarily deal with incompetant men and women rather than corrupt or good-two-shoes.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    To burble on about this subject: I see stories and their themes as being rather like dreams. I may have a dream and not have the faintest idea what it might mean, and then over the next few days, or after telling it to someone, realize that this relates to X and that relates to Y and that person is me telling myself Z, and so on. I think that stories work the same way.

    For example, my series of "once upon a time" stories, keep having a theme of rejection or betrayal by those that one should expect loyalty from, and friendship from those that one should expect to be one's enemies. I didn't see that theme at all when I was writing them. I also didn't see that the cat in Bitter Oranges is in part my mother and that that story is the most sympathetic portrayal of my mother that I have ever written. I wouldn't consciously write a sympathetic portrayal of my mother; I'm still too angry at her.

    Another side thought: this thread seems to take "theme" to mean a completed thought ("Do not trust the widgets, for they are slithy and they gyre.") to me a "theme" means, more, that the story is partly about something or discusses something. I suppose I could condense all those stories down to the Hallmark-card completed-thought theme of "Take love where you can find it", my response to that condensation would be, "Feh." Even those itty bitty stories are more complicated than that.
     
  18. Kite2
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    Kite2 New Member

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    I can see what you all mean but i still feel some urge to make a theme before i begin to write, to sort of go off of. and I don't think any of you read the book Monster Blood Tattoo which i made an example of ( i highly recommend you read it) in which every major conflict in the entire series comes from something not being as it at first seems. First the boat, then the monster hunters, then the violence then the monster, then the job. (i left these vague to avoid spoilers) Every last one of theme turns out to be nothing like he thought it would be r what anyone else thought it was either. And by the way the reason people write entire books for a one sentence theme is to provide greater understanding of why its important and to give the entertainment that people are looking for
     

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