1. ms627
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    ms627 Member

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    Themes in YOUR Literature

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ms627, Feb 27, 2013.

    Hello!

    I was curious to see how many writers start a piece with a theme in mind, the message, commentary you're trying to make. Do you tend to have themes before you begin or do they come later or do they show up on their own once you're done?

    I struggle with finalizing a theme; I have a broad one, but I find myself going back and forth with writing with it in mind or veering off to left field!
     
  2. Kammygirl
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    Kammygirl New Member

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    I never really start with a theme. But as the story develops I do stop to think "what's the point" of everything going on. That's when I have another little brainstorming session about all the reasons why my characters are doing what they are doing. For me, if I try to nail down a theme immediately I get caught up in trying to keep the story focused on that hence hindering the natural growth of my characters.
     
  3. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Yep...I definitely started my current project with a message in a mind...'The most unexpected people can make the greatest friends of all' but now that the idea has developed, all the themes aren't really concrete and there's a handful of messages I could get across with the story.

    I'm not sure if that's a bad thing though? I'm on the same boat as you. But I don't think a story has to have definite 'theme'. As long as the reader can take something from the story...that's good enough :)
     
  4. Talmay
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    Talmay Member

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    I like to think my themes are organic. The more I write, the more I'll understand what I'm trying to say. I never begin something with a theme already in mind.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The novel I'm working on started with an idea that had a theme behind it - but usually this doesn't happen.
    Sometimes I have to write quite a bit and then a theme will evolve through the characters.
    Actually by starting with a theme and not the characters, this novel has given me a harder time than starting
    without a theme. I guess cause I feel like I'm bending for the theme rather than letting it naturally evolve.
     
  6. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I don't know if this qualifies as a theme or not but i write a lot of stories where the leading man is disabled because i am disabled.
     
  7. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've usually got a broad theme in mind by the time I get beyond the first few details - I find it easier to build the plot when I'm building it around something like that.
     
  8. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I definitely have some kind of theme in mind before I start writing any prose. I work out what that theme will be during the early development phase after I know where the story will more or less end but before any characters are pieced together. Once I have the characters and their stories worked out with headline points within the main story arc, then I start the prose work.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i always have a theme now, since what i write is philosophical in nature... back when i was writing fiction, in my old life, i didn't consider themes, only told stories... if they seemed to have a theme when completed, it wasn't on purpose...
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I mostly don't stick with a single theme in my work. Despite that, most of the short stories/novels i write have a distinct theme when i start like nostalgia, vengeance, longing, perseverance etc. As Talmay said though, themes are organic for me too, i end up altering and understanding many things in the course of the development.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always start with a story I want to tell. Something happens to someone and they react in this way. Then as the storyline becomes more complex, with different plots and subplots, I end up with several themes, but there's only one dominant one.
     
  12. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    In short stories I start with a thought, the thought turns to words and then the ending places the theme. Usually I am trying to show something to people so that they can stop and ponder about it. I like short writes that make me think and I try to place that in my writings.

    For my novel, no. I had a character (the protagonist) then and idea then a bunch of characters and then an expanded idea then came the story. Later I studied my story and chose the themes. currently my main theme in it is: Arrogance brings about regret and anger brings about your end. My main character is an angry, arrogant boy who discovers the mistakes of his actions that led to many tragic events which he was responsible for directly or indirectly.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to try to start with a theme, but I found over and over that the theme morphs a little as I write, and I wind up saying things I didn't set out to say. That's good, though - it means I learn something new as I work.

    So now I don't start with a theme. I start with a character and a situation, and during the first draft I'll figure out what the theme is. In subsequent drafts I'll strengthen and clarify the theme.
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've done it both ways - starting with a theme, or starting with characters whose stories needed to be told. I have found the latter works better, because when the themes emerge - and I find they always do - they are far more compelling and self-evident. I also found that when starting with a theme, I was far more prone to having problems with the story, getting bogged down. The last project I started with a "theme", I wound up trashing it and starting over, then abandoning it half way through the second attempt. When go back to it someday (and I fully expect to do that), it will be with a determination to simply write the stories of the characters.
     
  15. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I have one short story that I started without any theme, and it never really developed one. It's a page turner... but not a seller. But for my book, I started with a theme, and it's sold acceptably well despite not being as well written in my opinion.
    What I take from this is that themes are important. The plot is the legs of the story and the characters are the brain, but the theme is the guts.
     
  16. A.Tad.of.Conrad
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    A.Tad.of.Conrad Member

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    Themes should rise organically from the writing of the narrative, though an author can be didactic or heuristic about revealing the themes.
     
  17. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm a sucker for redemption stories. Nothing is as gut-wrenching as a man facing his past with abject honesty.

    I do see a pattern, however. In considering that "the wages of sin is death," I also find it typical that the man who rights his own wrong usually dies at the end. Darth Vader for example.
     
  18. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    The would be "redemption equals death." It's a good trope, that's why it's so popular. Here's a challenge for you: have redemption without death but keep the readers happy. Difficulty: the villain can't be sympathetic.
     
  19. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Too late, I killed my lead character. He had it coming.
     
  20. ΣΕΙΡΙΟΣ
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    ΣΕΙΡΙΟΣ New Member

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    Definitely, I am using a central theme for my stories, mostly because I am influenced by the Greek Epics. However I' ve realised that this particular way of writing around certain themes, or motives if you prefer, works both for me and the reader. A theme that I am using, is the battle between khowledge and ignorance or the questioning of morality in extreme situations.

    Here are five reasons of why I am using it..

    1) It gives me a focus point to build my plot around
    2) It offers me a central axis for my characters' traits
    3) The reader, most of the times, feels that he/she earns something more than just a good story (for example, a new mentality towards life)
    4) It helps me a lot when symbolising concepts (for example, in the Bible, the concept of "knowledge" is symbolised with the apple fruit or in Greek Mythology "curiosity" is symbolised with Pandora's box)
    5) It helps me to stay focused towards my aim and instead of limiting my imagination it fires it up

    The last one is a very personal reason that's why is not listed amongst the others: It makes want to write down and finish the story because the theme contains the message that I would like to pass through my writing.
     

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