So it seems I have alot of ideas, but I realize now that ideas are not stories. Even characters and plots do not create a story. It seems that the concept of a story is centered on a theme. From the theme comes a premise. From the premise comes everything else. I always saw it something like this: Theme: Man must rely on his inner spirituality to guide him (Man vs. Machine) Premise: A group of rebels fight against an Intergalactic Empire that is building a weapon that can destroy planets. A local farmboy struggles to learn his powers as he is tempted and put through trials by his polar opposite, a powerful, half-man half-machine Antagonist. Movie: Star Wars As far as Star Wars, I could be wrong on my interpretation. It was all I could think of at the moment. It could be Nature vs. Machine as well. Depends on how you look at it. But George Lucas was obviously trying to say something. Something simple. In fact, it seems like he uses Obi-Wan to convey his message (I forgot what this type of character this is called, besides being a mentor). At the end the theme is made more clear when Obi-wan's voice tells Luke to "Let go" and use the Force. Luke switches off his targeter (Machine) and trusts in the Force (Spirituality). By releasing his reliance on the artificial forms, trusts in himself, and pulls the trigger. So when I look at my own stories, I get confused. I can come up with a million different battles, characters, plots, etc. But when I can't even touch my own theme, even barely, I feel like I'm doing it wrong. I wonder how I even got this far without a real theme. What we are trying to say, is it something out of our own life experiences? Is it some kind of message I've had in my heart my whole life? How do you pick what you want to say? Did an experience trigger it? Or is it just based on observations you've made through your whole life? To me the message should be powerful and something I truly believe in. I see it sometimes in my writing, and sometimes I can't see it at all. And that is depressing. Are there exercises you do concerning this? Like writing down all the things you want to say? All of your strongly held beliefs? Then do you build an entire story off a theme? Or do you work backwards from a story into a theme? I’d love to hear from others.