Choosing A Theme

cartoon owl reading a book illustrating an article about choosing a themeMany beginning writers decide on the story, or characters for their stories before starting to think about the theme.

Many of us get confused about theme and plot. So, before we go further – if you are not sure exactly what a theme is I recommend you read this article here.

Choosing a theme is often done subconsciously. We are not always aware that the themes in our story are repeated from story to story.

Themes, become more apparent as your writing progresses over time, and the story develops.


However, to actually choose a theme to explore in your story before you decide on everything else is a very interesting way to start.

Many writers are very aware of the themes which appeal to their own readers and explore the same themes within different stories.

Being aware of which themes which appeal to your own audience or readers can help you choose stories which sell.


Think about John Grisham. Many of his books explore injustice, greed, betrayal, isolation etc.

His many, mold painting of a woman reading illustrating an article about choosing a themeany readers obviously enjoy these and respond accordingly by buying his books. They know what they will get when they choose a John Grisham novel.

This is why understanding which themes appeal to you and awareness of how they appeal to your readers, or potential readers will help you enjoy more success as a writer.


The following exercise will help you choose a theme that suits you.

Examine your bookshelves and make a list of your favourite books. Make a list of your favourite movies or television shows.

Take your time and think carefully as you do this. The importance of this preparation will show up in your writing.

When you have finished your lists start to think about the stories and make notes about the themes. Then, count the number of times each theme occurs.

To help you here are some examples of theme you should take a look at.


Armed with this fresh insight you can judge your proposed ideas, or projects to help you determine whether or not you are likely bring a particular project to completion.

Writing a story is hard work and it takes time and patience. If you do not feel compelled to explore the themes in the story you are writing, then your chances of hitting that finishing line are reduced.


Perhaps having thought about this and done the above exercise you might learn that you need to find another story with a different theme.

I hear your pain, but surely it is better to find out now. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you do not have a strong enough desire to finish a story you have spent considerable effort and time developing.

We writers need a healthy dose of creative compulsion. We don’t just need to want to write, we need to need to write.

It also makes it a lot more fun for you and your readers.

Best of luck with choosing your theme and your future writing.





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